I wanted to write about One Village at a Time today. I wanted to tell you about the amazing work we do, the lives we save, the people we empower, and I will. But not today.
Today the Angels Weep Again. Children were maimed and killed 2 blocks from my home yesterday. And last night when I knelt down to pray, I prayed for all the children who were frightened last night, who were cold and hungry, whose limbs had been torn from them, who needed a mother’s breast to cry on. I prayed for all their little voices and souls.
I could not wipe from my mind the first time I saw children killed by violence. It was in Kenya right after the last elections. Kenya erupted into violence and people were killing each other with machetes. My driver and I came across a slaughter which had just happened on the road to our village. There lying by the side of the road was a young child, the limbs hacked off, one of several people laying dead. I made Francis stop, though he was afraid because he was from the opposing tribe. I would not drive over those bodies and I would get out and pray.
I had tucked this memory in the very farthest part of my mind. One cannot make sense of the senseless. I am not saying that one life is more important than another, but when a young child’s life is taken, it seems as if part of the future of the world has been snuffed out. Slaughter, carnage, terror don’t belong in a child’s life. And children in Boston didn’t know what that might look or feel like.
Now they do.
So today, I’m asking you to join 5forFairness. I’m asking you to think about children all over the world. I’m asking you to hold your children tight, and whisper in their ears how much they are loved. And tomorrow I will tell you about One Village at a Time.
Susan B. Gross
Executive Director “One Village at a Time”
Today on Twitter there is an ongoing conversation about the possibility that philanthropy can be damaging or dangerous. To that I said yes. Too often I have seen charities which target a certain population but don’t empower them to ameliorate the problem themselves.
For example, back in the 80′s and 90′s we needed a lot of different types of charities to work with the growing problem of AIDS. Gay men really rallied and did an amazing job of setting up clinics, political action groups, housing, nursing, you name it and they helped build it with the help of the general population. Now AIDS has moved more into the women and children of color population, but I have sadly watched as the pre-existing places for gay men fight to stay funded.
They did their jobs and they did them well. But lots of people got salaries from those jobs, and there were lots of ED’s who don’t want to give up their salaries either. So they fight to stay relevant when they should help move the money to where the need is now salaries be damned.
I believe that if One Village Does its job right we will go out of business. And that’s my goal. If we empower enough people and help them spread what they learned to other villages, we shall have done our job and it will be time to pack up and go home.
I cannot lie, I am an avid consumer of much of social media. At the age of 66 I have learned to tweet, Facebook and link up on Linkedin. I merrily use Hootsuite so that I can post multiple tweets across the social cybersphere with amazing ease. I check my twitter account to see what is selling on twitter of my tweets. It’s fat cats, of which I have several.
This week was an extremely important election in Kenya. For the first time in five years a new President was to be elected. There was much gnashing of teeth and many prayers lifted up to God that the election would come about peacefully and without scandal. Unfortunately that doesn’t seem to be the case. (See related story in the Nation today).
But here’s the deal. While the lives of millions weigh in the balance, the only thing that twitter folks and other social media junkies care about is the weight of my cats.Every time I post a photo of one of my behemoth cats I get thousands of hits, but tell folks that kids are dying, or that there is violence in Kenya and like my cats seeing dietetic food, they turn up their noses and walk away.
No, this isn’t about Africa, or politics, rape or poverty. This is silly. Sometimes things I do tickle me so much I just have to share them with the world. Anyone who knows me knows that I am known for owning rather large cats. Some might say obscenely large, but I would say portly.
Such is the case with Paddington my 35lb cat. Paddington, to be honest, is a dirt boy. As you can see from the first photo he is all tummy with stubs for paws. He cannot clean himself, it’s true. And last night he came into the bedroom stinking so badly I thought he had gotten into something. My cats never leave the house.
So today, as I begin a new year of my life, Paddington got a shower (no way could I get him in the tub.) Spreading American cheese in a line to the shower, Paddington willingly gobbled up the cheese till he heard the water. But he’s slow and I’m quick and in the shower he went.
I spit upon your bait
He really didn’t hate it that much, and I think he was grateful for the undercarriage wash. Once released, however, he couldn’t walk because his legs flew out from under him on the hardwood floors. I toweled him down as best I could and he haughtily marched off to a room with a shearling rug. There he sits, bedraggled and refusing his last bit of cheese.
We’re a Drinking Club with a Philanthropic Problem
Isn’t that a great phrase? Last week I spoke on a panel about Board Development and people were fascinated to hear that the oldest member of my Board is 37. How could a non-profit run with such young people at the helm? Wasn’t I uncomfortable with their youth? How could they bring in the big donors? And the answer lies in the title of this blog entry.
No “mature” board member would think up a title like that. No seasoned board member would come up with the idea of monthly get togethers at local hot spots where the young and hip hang out. Yet these young people are our future. And having fun, unstuffy, less expensive events spreads the word for One Village at a Time. We won’t make a ton of money with any one of these events, but we will by the time we’re through.
If we don’t involve the millenials (whose reputation has been besmirched with such shows as Girls) how do they grow up to have a Philanthropic Problem? And don’t we want them to have that problem?
And if you want to join us this month for our Event here’s the link. Hope to see you there: https://www.facebook.com/events/138903706273169/
BTW: That tag line was written by a 26 year old. Pretty Fabulous I think.
One of my favorite bloggers for the Nation, Peter Ondeng, wrote a pity blog about the upcoming elections. “ The way we are going, he says, “No one should rule out another orgy of bloodletting.” (link to article below) Wow! This is not a US paper using scare tactics, this is a Kenyan Paper.
While I fear that there will be some bad times during elections, a headline like this is all that Americans need to say (as someone asked me yesterday)”What’s wrong with their leaders?” To this I reply, Africa only threw off the tyranny of Colonialists at best 50 years ago. Where were we 50 years after the Brits left?
First we had the battle of 1812, but that didn’t compare to what happened on our shores 80 years later. As folks flock to see the film Lincoln, let us not forget what a real orgy of bloodletting looks like. They call it the Civil War.
I am not for Civil War, I am not for Election Violence, but I am for taking a less judgmental attitude towards Africa and Kenya in particular. And I wish that newspapers here and abroad didn’t emblazon a headline of “An orgy of bloodletting” sensationalizing the gruesome and ignoring the good.
Staying on top of the news here and in Africa is my morning routine. Seated with a great cup of Kenyan coffee (that I brought back) I begin to read about 5 papers. I was glad this morning that there weren’t too many blatant atrocities to read about. But my heart sank when I read the All Africa News and the Post
Headlines today say that the minister who was to give the invocation at the inaugural for Obama has been axed because of his anti-gay statements. Following that I checked the lead story in All Africa and it’s about Uganda’s stance on homosexuality “as a detestable culture we will not abide”. Seems one university has taken the stance that students will not be discriminated against for age, sex, and sexual orientation. And it seems that another University which is in the consortium refuses to accept that doctrine so most of their students will have to leave, not because they are gay, but because University 1 has the money and the classes and University 2 where they have been using the classes can’t have them anymore. (Full article link: http://allafrica.com/stories/201301091285.html?page=2)
Having read the exploits of so many in the bible who had multiple wives, and concubines, I cannot help but wonder when it’s going to be ok to be gay. Heck, David killed Bathsheba’s husband so he could take her as a wife. Killing for wives ok, gay not? Judges: rape is ok? Yeah that’s in there too as well as stealing, pillaging, and burnt sacrifice of animals (what would the MSPCA say about that?)
My hope is the following: Rape: Not OK
Killing Husbands to get wives: Not OK
Cruelty to animals: Not Ok
Stealing and Pillaging: Not Ok
GAY IS OKAY
The tragedy of the last week in India is on all of our minds that either are women, or work with women and girls. For me, I fall into both categories. While the violence and brutality of that rape has stunned people, do not be naïve. It is a daily event in all countries around the world.
They are building Freedom House in Kisumu. Our partners at KMET know from elections past, that young girls are particularly at risk of a raping during elections. And elections in Kenya are only a couple of months away. So, because we cannot stop it, we build a safe house where girls can be medically treated and stay safe. And hopefully, in time, heal.
I don’t have the answers to rape. I saw a cogent observation on Twitter today about rape. “It is not a certain kind of woman who gets raped; it’s a certain kind of man.” But as election time comes closer and closer in Kenya, I realize I’m on my way to a raping of the girls we care for.
If you would like to help these kids, donate now so we can keep them safe.
So much coverage of the killings, so much talk about the children of Sandy Hook, it’s <div everywhere. My clients are trying to make sense of it. For that matter the world is trying to make sense of it. Some are angry and fearful. I read that the sale of guns has gone through the roof and that Wal-Mart is sold out of semi-automatics. What?
As a country we have a choice here. This is not the first slaughter of the innocent. But I must ask people which way will you exit this slaughter? In 911 we saw such amazing acts of kindness, courage, love, compassion did we really have to walk away from that message and embrace fear and anger? As we watch the prayers and thoughts of our nation flow towards that small Connecticut town, can we not be pushed in the right direction?
I have been encouraged that the discussion is not all about protecting ourselves. I am glad some gunslingers are ready to re-think their position. And perhaps, we will watch out for the isolate young men who quietly slip into madness. Perhaps we will reach out to the parents; perhaps the teachers and neighbors will take more of an interest in the lone boy off at a distance.
It seems to me that we are being asked once again which way will we walk away from slaughter. Shall we need more massacres? Or shall we embrace that which is good in everyone and walk towards love, resolution and compassion? I’m rooting for the second.
The snow falls gently to the ground this morning. Around the world today we gather to remember World AIDS Day. We think of those lost in the fight, yes, but also we are hopeful for those infected and affected. New meds make their lives longer and better. But still they must take poison each day to stay alive. And I salute their courage and spirit.
But this is a story of the World AIDS Day Miracle. And indeed when the clock struck midnight last night, I knew it had happened. At first I was in awe, and then I felt overwhelmed. So many people believe in what we do in Kenya. And so many wanted to make a difference.
It started with a Global Giving Challenge for us to get 40 new donors to donate to our project to keep girls in Kenya in school. Most of the girls are AIDS orphans. It started a month ago, and despite my tweeting and putting up updates on Facebook it wasn’t going too well. Then a board member contacted me Thursday and said, we really should try and win this one. I had 48 hours to get it done.
So the word went out. I tweeted and FB’d. I reached out to everyone I knew. I really thought it was a lost cause. But then Friday morning people started to really respond to my pleas. Donations came in and we were getting closer.
And now for the miracle. I went to High School almost 50 years ago. One of the alums put up a Facebook Page and we try and connect when we can. I haven’t seen my classmates in almost 50 years, but somehow they believed in me. Jill, who I must admit I don’t remember, kept donating. First she donated $270 for the first 27 girls. But she was concerned it didn’t cover enough girls. So then it was $190 and a frantic email to me, was it enough? Wow now she had covered 47 girls. And then I saw the names of several others of my friends from high school and the donations they made. I cried.
I truly never thought I was much in High School and surely never thought anyone believed in me. But there it was. People from all over the US were saying go and take care of these girls, and I will support you. And they thanked me for what I did and somehow by 12:30A.M a miracle happened. I knew that God has blessed this mission and that folks really believe and trust that what I do is worth it. And for me that is my miracle.