Sunday, February 21, 2010

Sunday Salon: I am so fortunate...

This week I have found myself reflecting on how fortunate I am that I live where I do (in Southern California), that I have a job I love (Teacher Librarian), and that my family is healthy and loving.

Note: neither of these stories is asking you to give money. I just felt so inspired this week that I wanted to share...

A family friend (Bill) is a founding member of Chad Relief, an organization that works with refugees in Chad. The group raises money to build schools, sports fields, wells, solar power, agricultural production, and they work on malaria prevention. As a teacher I buy a lot of supplies at Staples and use a Teachers Rewards card which gets me money back a couple times a year. In the fall I received a $50 (!) coupon to purchase whatever I wanted in the store so I used it to buy pens, pencils, notebooks, and pencil sharpeners for the teachers in the Chad refugee camps. Bill dutifully took my bulky supplies to Chad in January to distribute at the schools. Whenever I donate to a cause I wonder if the money/goods actually get where I want them to go, who is receiving them, and what they look like. Donors don't usually get to know any of that and have to trust that our efforts are helping out the recipient. Well, this week Bill sent me this picture in an email and I was so excited to see the end result! This is the actual hand-over of my pens!

The school where I teach has a Model UN club and they did various showings this week of a fabulous film called Invisible Children. It is only 50 minutes long and follows 3 UCLA students as they set off for Uganda "to find a story". They begin with lighthearted stuff (trying new food, getting sick from water they drink, etc) and then find the children in Uganda who come into the towns each evening to hide from Joseph Koney so that they won't be kidnapped into his rebel army. The UCLA students sober up quickly; they have found their story. They have now formed the Invisible Children foundation, have gone back and made a few more films, and are raising millions of dollars trying to rescue children who have been taken into Koney's army.

Again, when I first saw the film Invisible Children I wondered what had happened to the children featured: are they still alive? Are they safe? Were they kidnapped again by the rebels? Often we do not ever find out what happens to people in films or news stories such as these. However, on Friday the Invisible Children group began their current US tour at my school. They showed their follow-up movie Rescue showing their efforts to get a peace brokered with Joseph Koney. After the film there were two speakers, one of whom is the main boy (now 18) from the initial film! You could have heard a pin drop in our full auditorium and I was quite overcome with emotion seeing and hearing him speak about finishing school and going on to University this fall.

What causes inspire you enough to donate time, money or resources?

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