Sunday, August 5, 2012

Go see for yourself!

Our 'comfort zone' is a 'holding cell.'  That can change.
In a coastal village in western Africa where we work, a sweet grandma shows off her new grandson. She hopes and prays for a better world for him.

You can make it happen.

Things you can do:
  • Go.  Go see for yourself.  Stay long enough to outgrow being a tourist.  Stay long enough to meet and get to know some folks.  Then go back when you can. 
  • Give.  Figure out how much is generous.  Then double that and give it.  If it isn't difficult, there's no cost, and you're unchanged.  Give until you have to change your lifestyle to keep it up.  Do that from now on.
  • Help Find out where the needs are and pitch in; join in with those who are effective.
  • Hope Push back the hopelessness for just one family by giving them a hand up.  Or two families.  Or ten.
  • Learn.  Study deeply enough to get past your emotional response and get practical with your efforts.  Helping without hurting isn't as easy as it sounds. Pity isn't helpful.  Friendship is. 

Rinse.  Repeat.

Friends of ours since the early days, three here
are siblings; can you pick them out?
(click for larger version)
If you're living comfortably in the west (with a job, a house, a car, and a bank account), you're in the world's top bracket for wealth.   Rethink, adjust, do differently.  Or not.  Your choice.  :)

APR 2014: Specific requests (opportunities) in the queue:

$50 will cover a semester's costs for a kid in western Africa; fees, uniform and shoes, supplies, and some food assistance.
$300 will give a family a chance to step up a bit with food for a couple of months, materials to repair their home, and medicine they need. 
$800 will put 40 kids in Kenya in school, including one meal a day, for the upcoming semester.
$1500 will employ 3 teachers for a school year.
$2500 will equip, staff, and operate a preschool for a year.
$1950 will supply an elementary school with notebooks and pencils for each of their 600 students for the upcoming semester.
You can go to Africa and see for yourself; it's not inexpensive, but it's worth the price to understand the world we live in.

Africa is my focus; it need not be yours, but we should have a perspective that's larger than our own comfort zone, should we not?

Don't let me persuade you; go see for yourself!  You'll never be the same again.  :)

The following is a quote from “Africans – Altered States, Ordinary Miracles” by Richard Dowden. 

“Africa has a reputation: poverty, disease, war.  But when outsiders do go they are often surprised by Africa's welcome, entranced rather than frightened.  Visitors are welcomed and cared for in Africa..  If you go you will find most Africans friendly. gentle and infinitely polite.  You will frequently be humbled by African generosity.  Africans have in abundance what we call social skills.  These are not skills that were formally taught or learned.  There is no click on have-a-nice-day smile in Africa.  Africans meet, greet and talk, look you in the eye and empathize, hold hands and embrace, share and accept from others without twitchy self-consciousness.  All these things are as natural as music in Africa.

“Westerners ... often find themselves cracked open.  They lose inhibitions, feel more alive, more themselves and they try to understand why they have only half lived.  In Africa the essentials of existence - light. earth, water, food, family, love, sickness, death - are more immediate, more intense.  Visitors suddenly realize what life is for.  To risk a huge generalization: amid our wasteful wealth and time-pressed lives we have lost human values that are still around in Africa.”