Posts tagged #Poverty

let's not change the world

NOTE: sorry about the weird typeface - not sure what happened with the copy/paste feature in my browser. :) This was taken from a post James Pearson (Acholi Beads, Choice Mob, WikiChoice) recently wrote for Plywood People. I thought it was incredibly inspiring.

Let’s not change the world. Let’s not end poverty or wipe human trafficking from the globe. Let’s not put an end to global warming or empty the landfills. And let’s stop trying to eradicate malaria and treat every HIV and tuberculosis patient in the world. Instead of changing the world, let’s change our daily routines. Let’s all knock a minute off of our showers and turn a few lights out when we don’t need them. Let’s ride bikes to work when we can, or look into carpooling and public transport. And let’s choose jobs that we believe in, because they uphold our values. Instead of wiping out various diseases or ending human trafficking, let’s each pick an organization that we believe in and support them as best we can. And when the need comes, let’s all take the two minutes to make a phone call to our senators. And instead of treating all the patients in the world, let’s each meet one and make sure he gets the treatment he needs. And let’s forget trying to get rid of poverty. Instead let’s each build a connection with one poor person, or one poor community, and learn how we might give them a hand. And when people ask us what we’re doing, let’s be sure to tell them that we’re not changing the world, we’re just changing ourselves, and hopefully helping a couple others do the same. And when first they hear that from one of us, and then another, and another, they might begin to wonder if the whole world is changing around them.

I think what he has to say definitely holds weight. Instead of targeting multiple issues, target one - find one issue you know you can fully support and believe in - and dig deep. Take the time necessary to develop skills needed in that area. Research. Collaborate. Advocate. And above all - be authentic. Don't claim you're going to change how you live or try and get others to do something you aren't willing to do yourself. How will I change myself? Well, I mentioned in this post how I plan to use as little electricity as possible and turn the AC up a few notches. I'm also going to head knee deep into fighting human trafficking - SheDances is an incredible organization I know I can fully support and give my attention and talents to help them rescue girls at risk for trafficking. And I won't stop sharing. I won't stop talking about the 27 million slaves in the world and the 2 children every minute being sold into some type of slavery. I will finish my novel about how this industry even seeps into the shadows of America. And most of all, I will continue to advocate for my students. I will continue to push for service learning within the classroom and research what it would take to truly have educational reform in our country - so every student knows he or she can effectively create change within themselves and in turn, change those around them. Students NEED to know they can effectively create change within themselves. And we can do this by restructuring how we approach the secondary classroom. Life is exciting. Too much is happening for us to actively capture their attention through strict lectures and worksheets. Education hasn't changed - at all. We need to meet the world where it's at in order to properly encourage these kids towards success.

So here's my question to you: how are you going to change yourself?

world of contradictions pt.1

What I know about Haiti is the rain that produces rivers down the dirt roads and feeds into the huts of the locals. What I know about Haiti is the enigmatic pull of the beautiful wasteland of Jolli Gilbert. The bustling of school children, running down the sidewalk with matching pastel polo shirts and hand-me-down bottoms, captures my attention. Their laughter ricochets off the dilapidated tin-roof homes, and I smile. One of the children stops mid-stride and looks at the dirt. He begins exclaiming something in a language I don't understand, but the other children turn in haste and run back towards him. Looking closely, you can see what demanded their attention. A small butterfly sits quietly on a lone rock—the brilliant colors of its wings a stark contrast to the dirt surrounding it. I will find this is what Haiti is full of—contradictions.

I stare out the window of the rusty truck wondering about these children. How long does it take them to walk the five miles home from school? What do they worry about? Do they have a family? When was the last time they were hugged?

Many of my questions are answered the next day as the children speak to me in their stilted mix of English and Creole about what they do for fun.

One of the girls who is particularly fond of my light skin and blonde hair just sits in my laps and stares. Feeling the intensity of her rich eyes, I look down, smile and she beams with an uncertain familiarity.

Grabbing my face with both of her hands, she whispers, “beyotiful” and wraps me in the tightest hug I’ve received in awhile; our portrait a black and white image of purity and innocence.

I soon find that these children are the most genuine people I have ever met. In their stained T-shirts that have holes from too much wear, the kids find covering—not style. In friendships they possess a solidarity and community that far outweighs Americans’ tendency of keeping each other at arms’ length. When these precious children sing, they sing with the joy of being alive.

They are just that—alive.

Haiti, in all its tragedy and deconstruction, is where I was transformed. When asked to pinpoint a significant turning point in my life, I always reference Haiti. It is here that I believe I lost my innocence. However, it is in this country with rich heritage and beautiful strength that I found myself.

What I remember about Haiti is not the men walking down the street with machine guns, but the women walking with their children—bright smiles echoing off the darkness around them. What I remember about Haiti is not the marketplace full of beggars, but the marketplace full of bright possibilities in the shape of tropical fruit, paintings and jewelry crafted with the hope of a new beginning.

Haiti is more than just the 30-second update the press feeds us. It is a land that has permeated my senses. I still smell the morning dew glistening on the banana leaves. I still feel the coarseness of rocks digging into my skin as I knelt down to talk to the children. I still taste the saltiness of goatskin, a delicacy given for our company. I still hear the sweet sounds of worship coming from the lips of believers who truly define faith in action. But most of all, I still see the eyes of those I came in contact with. Tired. Broken. Waiting. Hoping.

A world of contradictions bottled up into a tiny gaze.

Posted on January 28, 2010 .

missing pieces

When you go to Haiti your heart is broken, and you don't come back with all of the pieces. It was ten years ago this June. I stepped off the rickety plane into the blinding sun, my senses burned by the grassy-burnt marshmellow smell of the city. I lifted my hand to block the sun and glanced around at my new surroundings. I had been nervous - up until this moment. My stomach questioned the flight - up until this moment. Now, with tiny hands groping and grabbing my arm for attention as I made my way to the Land Cruiser we would use as transportation, I smiled. I had never felt more at peace. That was the instant I fell in love with Haiti.

Ten years is too long to go without pieces of your heart. I realize this as I sit and read the stories coming out from the rubble. I try to ignore my heart grieving, but I can't dismiss the groans felt deep within my soul.

But despite the tears, I know there's Hope. I trust Hope to come rising through the ashes, making a way for these people who have been forgotten for so long. Shining a light on their suffering - easing the pain of their burdens. Despite the fear, I know there's Peace. I trust Peace to come and pick up the broken pieces of millions of hearts and make them right again. Healing hurts crusty with age - restoring ashes into beauty.

I pray for Hope and Peace today. I pray that in the midst of this tragedy, people would not see the devastation, but the eyes of those devastated. They would not pay attention to the amount of economic impact, but those who have gone without for so long. My Jesus brings truth and love when we least expect it, and I'm praying for extra doses today as we begin to learn the full extent of what's happened.

And I'll wait and pray and pray some more. I'll set my heart down on its knees as I make my way through today and let it grieve for its missing pieces. Today more than any other day, I am content with waiting. Because I know I'll be back. One day.

You can only go so long with missing pieces.

EDIT: if you are still wondering what you could do to help, I have a solution. I have some friends who are selling t-shirts and 100% of the proceeds will go to disaster relief. Go here and order your shirt today.

Posted on January 13, 2010 .


First, watch this: [youtube=]

You hear, O Lord, the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry. defending the fatherless and the oppressed, in order that man, who is of the earth, may terrify no more. Psalm 10:17-18

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. James 1:27

This is why I push. This is why I shake my head and clench my fists.

There are countless verses in the Bible that explicitly states Christ's view on orphan advocacy and fighting poverty. It is not a choice.

That's right.

When it comes to orphans and widows and those in poverty, we have no choice in whether or not we are to help.

We cannot continue to turn our backs on those who make us feel uncomfortable simply because doing so would throw a wrench in our best laid plans. In doing this, we starve ourselves of the richness of His grace. We lose out in experiencing the severity of His mercy. Don't believe me?

Ask the 27 million people in slavery.

Ask the 143 million orphans.

The truth is this: there will be people who help. There will be those who stand up and sacrifice comfort to live a life worthy of His fame. The question is this:

will it be you?

Posted on January 12, 2010 .