I have begun to realize that it is important for us to really try to understand the conditions under which people live around the world, not just being aware that "somewhere out there" there were people living in poverty.
Tom's Shoes was having an awareness day yesterday. The deal was that people were to pledge to go a day without shoes to understand what it's like to be a poor person who can't afford shoes.
I did it by default because I didn't go out of the house and I rarely wear shoes in the house, but I live on smooth floors and soft carpet. The video is powerful.
Ned did something I was so proud of him for back in 2000, when this journal was a baby. He lost a bet on his radio station and he had to live as a homeless person on the streets of Sacramento for a couple of days. They allowed him to sleep on the porch of Phil's apartment (this was before Phil and Jeri married, of course) rather than find his own place on the street, but otherwise he lived the life of a homeless person.
I remember that two of the things he came away with were first, realizing how boring it is to be homeless, but more importantly he learned how much his feet hurt from having to be on them most of the day, moving all the time (he tried to talk with other homeless people to get an idea of what their lives were like).
Out of this experience came a radio station drive to raise money to buy shoes for the homeless. Ned lived in a playhouse on a gas station property and he raised ... I don't remember how much. Maybe something like $10,000? I could be wrong, but somehow I have that figure in mind. But they bought shoes and donated them to a local homeless shelter. I was so incredibly proud of him.
We are so less by not being aware...truly aware...of the living conditions of others around the world, and how we can help improve them. Potable water is so scarce in some countries that it is water which kills them. Alice Nan's husband is in Rotary Club and one of their projects is to build wells to bring fresh, clean, drinkable water to a village in Kenya.
Walt and I watched a video, Up the Yangtze the other night. It followed the life of a family whose farm had already been flooded as the waters of the Yangtze rose during the building of the Three Gorges Dam. They had built another lean-to house, where the family of four lived, cooked outside, and tried to figure out where their next meal was coming from, picking over the meager crops they were able to raise, wanting to hang on to what they had, but knowing that this house, too, would be flooded. They sent their daughter to work on a cruise ship in order to bring money to the family.
Just watching the interactions in the family, the beaten look of the mother, the fact that nobody ever touched anybody--the children never knew what physical affection was. I was drawn to that even more than to the information about the building of the dam.
I read the stories and I see the videos of Compassion sponsors who have been able to visit their sponsored children's homes. I watched a very moving video made by a woman who was a sponsored child, as she tearfully told what a difference her sponsor's help, love and encouragement had meant for her and how she had been abe to attend college, where without the help she would never have been able to finish grammar school. She now runs a home for unwed mothers.
I read "Sheba's Song," which is a fictionalized account of the relationship between a retired man in the United States and a young girl in India. The book was written by the adult girl, who could now write to her sponsor and tell him all the things that she knows now, but which she did not realize at the time.
We in this country have so much. When I think that the price of a Starbucks Coffee is the entire month's salary of people in some countries, it makes me re-think frivolous purchases that I might make, without thinking about it twice. I still make some of them, but I think about it and try to be aware of how much I have and how little others have, and then work to help others have a little more.
When I think that the family gift I sent to Fred's family at Christmas bought food so they could have a funeral and bury his little sister and how grateful they were for it... it breaks my heart.
We don't have to do big things. Sometimes going barefoot for a day, feeling the rough pavement or rocks under our feet and realizing that people in other countries do this all the time...and then reminding other people to do something that will make them aware of the plight of people around the world is a good thing.
When I was in grammar school, I strongly wanted to be a missionary. I outgrew that desire, but I guess I never outgrew it completely. I've been trying to do something for kids in third world countries most of my life.We heard a commercial yesterday from a jewelry store, talking about how important mothers are to us and how we should honor them with a gift of diamonds and gold on Mother's Day. For my birthday this year, Ned and Marta gave me a gift to the Heiffer Project. I believe Marta said that a hive of bees had been donated to a 3rd world family. That meant more to me than any gift of diamonds and/or gold!