Posts tagged #africa

give clean water.

it was hot that day. i sat outside the church with adah and rose, their laughter ricocheting off the steel walls of the school. i was showing them pictures of russ' cooking from my iPhone and they were tickled that a man did the cooking in my household.

my mind was elsewhere.

on the way up the hill, i noticed a woman doing laundry. nothing too out of the ordinary, except the water she was using.

it was dirty....no, it was filthy.

she sat there confidently, immersing each piece of cloth in the tiny stream running through the slum. the same stream i saw little kids use the restroom. the same stream i saw animals walk around and drink out of, bathe and rest. the same stream that stained my tennis burnt colors of browns and yellows.

the same stream most of these people in kibera got their water. 

i started talking to rose & adah about the water issue. i asked where they got their water - and they told me they fetched it every night. i asked where. eyes wide, they told me it was far enough to take a few hours - and sometimes this put them home after dark.

my heart flinched at the thought of these two precious girls walking the streets of kibera at night.

i asked if it were easier to just get water from kibera, and they nodded their heads. there are cleaner water stations - but those are sometimes too far. most often, the girls are required to fetch water after returning from school. most often, these girls are raped or beaten on the road. sometimes there's no water left when they reach the well.

this seems serious. and it's really easy to close our eyes and focus only on what we see and hear now. i have a glass of clean water in front of me. i only need to walk down the hall and get ice out of a filtered machine and fill my cup with water from a brita. my own hypocrisy is burdensome.

i'm close to tears just thinking about it. the injustice can be gripping at times - i complain about the temperature of my clean water. i complain about the taste of my clean water. i live in a society where companies design water bottles made of diamonds...and then fill the bottle with clean water.

something needs to be done.

the truth: americans will spend 450 billion dollars on christmas gifts this year.

it only takes 10 billion to provide the world with clean water.

our excess means their need.

today, we can change this.

a couple months ago, my friend Prudence contacted me about an idea. she wanted to blog for water - and i thought it was brilliant. water is something we all use - and any donation can be significant in the lives of those who don't have access to clean water. reading her e-mail, i couldn't help but think of my girls in the slum. the same time i'm walking down a lit hallway towards filtered water, they are braving the sun sinking below the horizon before they return from their daily walk for water.

a little can go a really long way.

you can give water - clean water - for Christmas.

will you join us?

go here to donate. what's amazing about charity:water is that 100% of your donations goes directly to building a well in a community with no access to clean water. AND...charity:water works with the community - training them to be as sustainable as possible - which ensures the longevity of the project.

want to help spread the word? use the hashtag #PrudyChickH20 on twitter.

my dream: walking the hills of kibera and seeing the women experience what it's like to use clean water for their daily chores. it may be farfetched. but i like to believe in the impossible.

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want to check out the other ladies writing with me today?

Prudence

Jenny Rain

Amy Sullivan

Mary Hess

Laura Leigh Parker

Kim Whitten

The Poisonwood Bible

"Listen. To live is to be marked. To live is to change, to acquire the words of a story, and that is the only celebration we mortals really know. " I first read The Poisonwood Bible the summer between my junior and senior year in college. Since then, I've read it at least five times.

It's my favorite book. Ever. I long to write like Barbara Kingsolver. Her words seem to dance off the page effortlessly - and her description of Africa sets an ache deep in my soul. It's the perfect juxtaposition of grotesqueness and beauty and confusion and preciseness...

Set in Kilanga, Congo, Kingsolver's work attributed to my love and connection to Africa long before my feet ever touched the soil. There are so many reasons this book resonates with me. I see myself in Nathan: my pride all too often gets in the way and I lack the discernment to listen to the wisdom of those around me. When this monster comes for a visit, the result is always the same: I know what's best. I cling to what I think is best. Nothing can change me. And then I crash and burn - realizing with newfound humility my way means nothing in light of the sovereignty of Christ.

I see myself in Adah. Oh, I see myself in this girl. Creative. Misunderstood. Brooding. Shy. Did you know I had an imaginary friend growing up? I did. And I talked to myself. I would sit in my room, on my bed, and create these fantastical stories all the while whispering to my confidante. I was made fun of - my glasses and braces and crimped hair leading to nicknames seared in my heart's memory. I sat alone often. But, I was okay with this after awhile. And eventually, I came into my own - realizing the gimp leg I thought was my lack of self-confidence really was just a misnomer. I was confident. I did have stories worthy to share.

But most of all I see myself in Leah. And I wish I could say otherwise. I wish I could be chic and say Adah is my soul twin - which - probably isn't too far from the truth. But I empathize with Leah's absolute need for approval feeding into an unhealthy dose of perfectionism. My love language? Words of affirmation? Yeah...just another tally mark in my quest. I know what it's like to strain so far for someone else that you don't even recognize yourself anymore. And, I know the beauty of returning home - of finding your footsteps belong in the dirt of a continent that captured your heart long before you ever knew its importance.

At the beginning of the book, Orleanna speaks about how sometimes Africa comes and visits her when she leasts expects it. Smells invade her senses and suddenly it's all she can do to run, crawl, swim, dance, careen and somersault her way to the place that caused so much heartbreak and growth. I get this. I know this. In fact, while rereading this part recently, I literally jumped off the chair and turned circles with excitement. I miss Africa so much that it physically hurts sometimes - and it's so hard for me to understand because of what it did to my heart, but it's home. Even if going back means revisiting emotions tough to process and heavy to endure.

The first time I read Kingsolver's book I immediately knew I wanted to teach it someday. I didn't know how I'd incorporate it into my class, and up until this year, I've relied on excerpts to show the power of diction or voice. This year, I finally get to accomplish my goal. The students read the book for their summer assignment and we are currently talking about it in class. I can't wait to see what comes of our discussions.

Posted on September 1, 2010 and filed under africa, books.

a holy violence

If we are engaged with the world around us, we will care about that world. We will be passionate about people's needs, our holiness, and God's glory. We will not be still in prayer. We will cry out for mercy with a holy violence. If we are silent, it will be because in our distress, words have failed us.- Tim Chester, Total Church

When I stepped off that plane ten years ago, I had no idea the impact Haiti would have on my conscience. This country, very much in survival mode, changed me and broke me in ways I still have problems describing. I mean, how can you accurately portray the splitting open of a worldview? How can you sufficiently give words to bloated bellies and tiny fingered vice-grips on your arm? So many times I would just stand there in silence. The red dirt beneath my feet, the sweat dripping down my face, the kids yelling and screaming and playing around me. I would stand there and feel the tearing open - the fissure - and I knew I would never be the same.

I'm faced with the same realization now. Days away from Africa, I already feel the breaking. Watching the rain outside my window, I wait for the words to come. At times, it feels I'm grasping at the air - coming up empty just when I feel the itch to get to the keyboard or my journal. I know this trip will change me. I know because it's already working in me - tearing at my securities and comfort.

But I don't want to forget about the here.

I look out my window and realize this holy violence cutting away the dead pieces inside reacts no differently in Austin than it does in Kibera. It sees the poverty. It sees the negative assumptions. It sees the expectations of failure and hopelessness. And it burns for release - for justice.

I just haven't found the words.

Posted on June 9, 2010 and filed under africa, reagan2kibera.

a year ago, we were giants

A year ago today, Russ and I took part in The Rescue - the worldwide event Invisible Children created to bring awareness to children soldiers in n. Uganda. This is the post I wrote after the fact - once I had time to process everything that happened. To be honest, I'm still processing. Since then, we've fostered relationships with people across the world, been blessed by the generosity of our IC family, and been challenged by creating that sense of community where we live. A year ago, we were giants. May we never forget. ________________________________________________________________________

In those days, we finally chose to walk like giants & hold the world in arms grown strong with love & there may be many things we forget in the days to come, but this will not be one of them

- Brian Andreas

I came across this from a good friend of mine. The moment I read it something happened inside my heart. Something concrete & hopeful & dangerous. From that second – I promised myself whatever I did, I would do it remembering this story & those I have met along the way who hold the world in their arms of love. And I have forgotten a lot. I have failed to write my heart & my dreams down. Words & thoughts & hopes have gone with the wind, and I can only hope that unlike Hughes’ dream deferred, mine will return & not rot like a raisin in the sun.

However, there are moments where my dreams seem vibrant with color & so tactile I feel as though I can reach out & grab them. A couple weeks ago was one of those times.

I wish I could capture every magical moment of the rescue. I wish I could capture the beauty of pick up duck-duck goose games or midnight freeze tag or last minute taxi rides in the wee hours of the morning while walking the streets of Austin in search for George Lopez. I can only try & grasp with my weak vocabulary the severity of what joining together with thousands across the world did to my heart.

But I will try. Because I have to. Because I refuse to forget this moment.

I drove down to Austin on the 25th of April. I remember the weather. Sunny, almost brimming with anticipation — as if even the weather knew what was broiling in the minds of thousands of young people. We were many, but we had one hope. One goal. Abducting ourselves in solidarity with the child soldiers of n. Uganda & awaiting rescue from a mogul — be it politician or celebrity. We just needed a statement. Them standing in solidarity with us, who were standing in solidarity with the children. Because our rescue ultimately meant their eventual escape from a horrific life of terror. When I got to the Capitol, there were about twenty volunteers there, waiting & laughing & planning for the hundreds who would show. The abductees started the trek at 3 that afternoon in the blazing sun & showed up at the site after their mile and a half walk with flushed cheeks & wind whipped hair.

And they were smiling. All of them. A smile of hope.

Before long, the Capitol lawn was littered with sleeping bags, ice chests, guitars, footballs, pillows, scrap paper & new best friends. Within hours, boxes designated for letters to Senators were overflowing, proving wrong society’s perception of our “apathetic” generation. Apathetic we are not. Even in the face of rain and bitter disappointment

It started raining some time in the early morning hours. Walking from group to group, our voices growing hoarse and our hair growing damp, we shared inspirational stories to keep the momentum going for our impending rescue. We had a mogul. She had agreed to an offsite interview & we were going to see her making a statement for our movement at noon on Sunday. Excitement was building, people anxious for a shower & sleep worked out their jitters with dodgeball & red rover. Didn’t know the person next to you? No matter. They were your family simply because of the common bond. Instant friendship. Instant trust.

We got word around 11:45. Volunteers were called to a meeting at the VIP tent & walking towards the group I knew something was wrong. Long faces may not seem out of place after a night of no sleep – but this is a different crowd. No sleep? No problem. Double shot of espresso, good friends, good music, good laughs & good conversations pass the time & make you forget of exhaustion. Long faces don’t accompany the faces of my IC family very often. I walked up to the group timidly & began hearing bits of the conversation. It didn’t take me long to get the idea.

Our mogul wasn’t coming.

We weren’t rescued.

The promises we had given the camp the night before? The pleas to stay because it was gonna be worth it?

Meaningless.

But wait.

We looked at each other. Suddenly, the realization sank deep in our bones & we let it simmer in our souls for awhile.

This is why we were here.

The games were fun. The instant friendships were meaningful & would be a catalyst for life-long relationships & a taste for true community.

But we were not there for us. We were not there to play dodgeball or red rover or sing songs late at night by the light of a flashlight and the tune of the guitar.

We were there to stand in solidarity with the children who had hoped & hoped & hoped for rescue for over 23 years. We were there to understand what it was like to be promised something (like rescue) and be disappointed in the backfiring of the best laid plans. Because these kids? They’ve been promised peace five times. It’s no exaggeration when I say a whole generation has never known peace. I will say this again. In n. Uganda, a whole generation has never known peace. And we were losing heart with our mogul falling through? In Austin? No. We would not lose heart. We would stay. We would press on & keep the faith & not leave until we got someone.

It took another 24 hours.

On Monday, August 27, 2009, 48 hours after many had first stepped on the Capital lawn, we were rescued. Many were soaked – it had been raining off & on all evening & between dodging sprinklers, fighting sleep & staying strong, many were refusing to let up. A fire had been lit. And just like with any fire, it had onlookers. I don’t think I will ever forget the black suits watching us from inside the cushy offices – warm & dry – while we stood ground outside the Capitol steps dripping wet & taking turns in the dry air of Subway, Starbucks, or walking barefoot in the Capitol building for a moment’s reprieve from the rain. We truly were a force to be reckoned with, and they knew. We had been heard; we had been seen; and in the process, these children were not invisible anymore to those in Austin who could make a tangible plea in Congress on our behalf.

We were rescued on Monday, but other cities weren’t so lucky. I went home Monday night to my bed, others were still battling freezing rain & blistering sun & bitter disappointment. Russ didn’t come home for another four days.

And while those four days held about three other blog posts, know this: I learned something about my generation that week. My generation? We are a persistent bunch. We will not give up. We will not give in. And whether it be forcing trends on twitter to listen to us or demanding mogulus watchers to pay attention to this channel called invisible children or connecting people cross country to others whose hearts beat in the same way or sticking it out old school for the big O’ to come to the rescue, we will wait. Because there’s something else I noticed about our generation.

We believe in the absolute truth of hope. And in this hope lies the truth that impossibility doesn’t exist in our vocabulary. Our arms have been built with the persistence of love, and we will hold those hurting until others join the fight. We will walk together, knowing community exists when dreams are fostered, and to those around us we will seem as giants. And looking around, we will know this is true.

Posted on April 24, 2010 and filed under africa.

being joshua and caleb in a no name world

let me introduce you to some friends of mine. i met some of the most incredible teenagers tonight. and it's not because of their attendance or their grades or their achievements in sports. it's because of their faith.

in the fall, these kids were introduced to Kibera, Kenya through a video created by their teacher during her trip last summer. they fell in love with their peers thousands of miles away and mentioned the idea of actually answering the call and going to help.

an idea turned into action because of these kids' faith.

these kids truly are Joshuas and Calebs in a no-name world. in a world where people will most likely look at them like they're crazy, they are standing tall. in a world where most kids their age save money for a new car or prom tickets or the latest fashions, these kids are brainstorming ways to get to Africa - because they want to help others.

they know love conquers all, and they are taking a risk. a risk so many adults would hesitate to take.

but, no one tells your story better than you - so i'll let you see (and hear) for yourself.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SSnZY_p3Yq4&hl=en_US&fs=1&rel=0&color1=0x006699&color2=0x54abd6&hd=1]

Posted on March 8, 2010 and filed under africa, story.