The plight of a poor, philanthropic college student

All I can think about right now is how stupidly expensive it is to get to Africa.  I want to go help people, make the world better in some small way.  It’s just annoying that money is the one thing that might keep me from going.  If I am meant to go though, God will make it happen.  For example, my Grandmother met this random person the other day that takes group of College kids to Tanzania.  I have yet to find out how much it will cost but if that’s not divine intervention, I don’t know what is.

People ask me why I want to go to Africa and I honestly can’t give them a concrete reason.  Perhaps superficially it’s because that’s the continent that is stereotypically associated with poverty.  This is not without reason though.  Most of the world’s poorest countries are  located there.  I just did a quick search for some statistics on this and the results were astounding.  According to the United Nations the top ten poorest countries in the world are all in Africa (http://www.economywatch.com/economies-in-top/poorest-countries-of-world.html). Maybe the appeal is in the exotic and foreign nature of African culture.  Whatever the reason is, I can’t pin it down.  I just know that when I think about travelling there or research volunteer programs this bubble of warmth wells up inside me and it just feels…right.

Another prompt from Writer’s Digest

Start your story with, “In retrospect, I wouldn’t say it was my best idea.” And end it with, “And that’s how I attempted to make this world a better place.”

In retrospect, I wouldn’t say it was my best idea.  I was one of those kids.  My mom would tell me to finish all my food because there are starving children in Africa who would love that broccoli.  Wisacre that I was, I’d tell her to send it to them.  Well one day I decided that this had gone on long enough and it was time to take matters into my own hands.  It started out as a furtive attempt to make good on my suggestion.  I couldn’t believe that some kid in Africa would really want my leftover broccoli but mom insisted that they did and she knew everything, right?  Well that plan came to a screeching halt when I realized that I had no idea where to send the food.  Also, the smell in my room kind of ruined the secret after a few days.

Then the all knowing and all powerful television gave me the perfect solution to my dilemma. This was more exciting than finding out that the Easter Bunny really does exist.  And I LOVE bunnies.  “Mommy! We have to call now!”  “What are you talking about honey?” “We can help the starving kids.  The ones I was going to send my broccoli to.  It only costs one dollar.” “Oh sweetie, it’s probably just a scam.”  “What’s a scam mommy?  Will it help those kids?”  “No, it means that the money they’re asking for might not really go to those kids you see on tv.” My nine year old face scrunched up in confusion over how weird grownups were sometimes.  My hope was rekindled when she reassured me, “there are people you can give money to who will actually give it to the kids who need help.”

Now only one obstacle stood in my way.

“What are you doing?” My father demanded.  He had a lovely view of the lower portion of my body because the rest was stuck under the couch.  My muffled voice floated out and informed him in a very matter of fact tone, “I read that the average family has ten dollars in their couch.  I need money to send to the starving kids in Africa.”  He began laughing and then called, “Peg! You’ve got to come see this!”

And that’s how I attempted to make this world a better place.

Writing is like…

This came from a Writer’s Digest prompt:  Forrest Gump once said, “Life is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re going to get.” What is writing like? Write a simile that starts with the phrase, “Writing is like … .”

Writing is like doing a puzzle; you have to find the perfect piece to complete it and create something beautiful.

I’m not sure if I’ve ever seriously pondered this question but this really is the perfect analogy.  I can spend hours trying to find the perfect words to say what I want to.  It is just like searching for a puzzle piece.  And of course, only one specific piece fits in each space.  I honestly believe there is no greater joy than finding the right word to complete a sentence and knowing that you have written something brilliant.  Even more amazing is the fact that if you can find that right word and put i exactly in the right place you can say so much in one simple sentence.

Although I don’t particularly enjoy his writing, Mark Twain did say some intelligent things.  We seem to agree on this subject at least.   “To get the right word in the right place is a rare achievement. To condense the diffused light of a page of thought into the luminous flash of a single sentence, is worthy to rank as a prize composition just by itself…Anybody can have ideas–the difficulty is to express them without squandering a quire of paper on an idea that ought to be reduced to one glittering paragraph.” – Mark Twain


Liberation

I am emotionally numb; detached from the world.  I have to be or all the horrors and injustices I see would scar me personally.  Pondering too long creates a feeling of desolate helplessness with all the badness, violence and oppression in the world.  How can a person like me possibly make a difference?  I’m innocent and ignorant; I’ve never experienced anything like persecution or torture.  I’m crying out to God to give me some direction because I can’t save the world by myself.  I’m begging him to give me a personal mission. Take my measly life and lead me to that one child whose life I can change.  I don’t want to sit in class presentations anymore and hear about the plight of the poor.  I get it!!  Now let me go do something about it.

I look up and orange highlighter catches my eye.  It illuminates a sentence that reminds me: “We cannot do everything and there is a sense of liberation in realizing it.”

Prophets of a Future Not Our Own

This is what we are about:
We plant seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces effects beyond our capabilities.
We cannot do everything
and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.
This enables us to do something,
and to do it very well.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way,
an opportunity for God’s grace to enter and do the rest.
We may never see the end results,
but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.
We are workers, not master builders,
ministers, not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future not our own.

~ Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero ~

Ubuntu

There is an African philosophy called Ubuntu that has been on my mind lately.  It means “I am what I am because of who we all are”.

Desmond Tutu has this to say about it:

“It is the essence of being human. It speaks of the fact that my humanity is caught up and is inextricably bound up in yours. I am human because I belong. It speaks about wholeness, it speaks about compassion. A person with Ubuntu is welcoming, hospitable, warm and generous, willing to share. Such people are open and available to others, willing to be vulnerable, affirming of others, do not feel threatened that others are able and good, for they have a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that they belong in a greater whole. They know that they are diminished when others are humiliated, diminished when others are oppressed, diminished when others are treated as if they were less than who they are. The quality of Ubuntu gives people resilience, enabling them to survive and emerge still human despite all efforts to dehumanize them.”

Essientially, ubuntu means realizing that we are all connected and that our actions really do affect others.  One very sad truth that I am coming to realize is that in general, people are apathetic.  This seems to be especially true of my generation.  We don’t care that a million children in Malawi are orphans or that most of them will go without a meal today.  We don’t care because we have never experienced this tragedy first hand and it simply does not affect our everyday life.  If everyone was to adopt the philosophy of Ubuntu this attitude would be drastically changed.

I’m still trying to wrap my head around what the idea of Ubuntu exactly means but it seems infinitely important to me that we understand how connected we are as a human family.  “I am what I am because of who we all are”.

Hello world!

Hello! Welcome to my blog and thank you for visiting it.  I’m new to this so just bear with me while I learn the ropes.

I suppose for the first blog I can tell you a little bit about myself.  You may have gathered from the title that I am a writer.  You’re one smart cookie!  My mom told me the other day that your passion is whatever keeps you up at night.  Well if this is true, then everyone in my household knows what my passion is.  For some reason the part of my brain that comes up with ideas for poems and stories is most active at night.  God also made me very, very forgetful.  Because of this, I cannot go to sleep until all my brilliant ideas are committed to paper(or computer).  Anyway, I suppose this means my passion is writing.  I had my sneaking suspicions but now I guess it’s proven.

Despite my rambling here there really is a purpose for my writing.  Getting down to the bare bones, my cause is the glorification of God through all that I do.  I also want to make a difference in the world.  I participate in a lot of community service activities and hope to show people the injustices that I experience through my writing.  Maybe I can even inspire others to take action.