Sunday, July 15, 2007
change the truth update
There are so many exciting things that have been happening in the world of Change the Truth lately! Time to bring you all up to date.
I told you about JJ’s very generous donation. Well, I called Rosemary (founder, director) of St. Mary Kevin’s in Kajjansi and gave her the good news. She was floored that such big help was coming and that it was coming from a 13 year old!! A few days after our conversation, she sent me the names of the five kids who will be able to now attend secondary school this year because of JJ. Their names are Joseph, Daniel, Habibu, Michael and Billy. JJ may not grasp it quite yet, but he did something that could prove to be life changing for these African children.
Because of the continued support of so many, we were able to send next term’s school fees for the eight students we began sponsoring this past winter: Shamim, Florence, Edward, Emma Vincent, Henry, Gloria, James and Catherine. Rosemary has promised to send grade cards, progress reports and a letters written by each of them in the next few weeks. I would like to think that we will be able to sponsor these children all the way through their secondary schooling. And, if we can add more to our list, that would be great!
Kate, a thirteen-year-old Kansas Citian and tennis player finally heard from her 15 year old pen pal, Solomon. He wrote a beautiful letter and even enclosed a photo of himself. Here is an excerpt: “I like playing football but not as competitive as you do play tennis. Tennis is pretty good, but I don’t really play it. I like making friends, but what I wouldn’t like is to part company with friends, especially those that are my close friends… During school time, I stay at school for about two or three months. It is really good when you sleep at school because you learn very many things that you did not know… My best subjects are basically the Sciences (Physics, Mathematics, Chemistry and Agriculture)."
As many of you know, I am involved with Operation Breakthrough here in Kansas City. The mission of Operation Breakthrough is to help children who are living in poverty develop to their fullest potential by providing them a safe, loving and educational environment. Operation Breakthrough also strives to support and empower the children’s families through advocacy, referral services and emergency aid. I am trying to figure out a way to build some sort of relationship or partnership between the children and teachers at Operation Breakthrough and the children and teachers at St. Mary Kevin’s. Two very different worlds, half a world apart, but so much to learn from one another and really, so much in common.
When Michael, manager of the orphanage, was in Kansas City in May, I took him on a tour of OB. He was surprised to see the level of poverty that exists right here in the good ole U.S of A. It is easy for Africans, even those who are well educated, to imagine that all of us on this side of the ocean are living high on the hog. He was, of course, duly impressed with the magnificent work being done at OB, but he was also astonished at the extent of the poverty he saw.
I realized that we could all stand to learn a lot more about one another. And that by doing so, eyes could be opened, hearts filled up and lives empowered. I started to imagine a handful of kids from the inner city here going over with me to Uganda at some point and spending a week learning about the lives of African orphans. Then, I started to see these kids figuring out ways they can HELP! How powerful would that be? And then, I pictured a handful of African kids coming to KC to dance and drum and sing with the African drum and dance corps at OB, the ones who performed at my opening at the Leopold Gallery. And then, well…
I am getting ahead of myself.
The first step I am hoping to take is this: there are a couple of social workers at OB who are doing groundbreaking work with play therapy and with school age activities. I want to bring them with me on a future trip to Uganda so they can work with the teachers of the children who have been traumatically affected by witnessing the atrocities of war, being surrounded by death and disease and ending up on their own – either on the streets or passed around to various extended family members. Some of these children are unable to articulate what they have experienced and how it has felt for them; therefore, they are slow to make any progress at all once they arrive at St. Mary Kevin’s. These social workers feel that they could be helpful by working with the children and, most important, by teaching play therapy skills to the teachers at the orphanage.
In order for the two women from OB to come with me, we will need to find sponsors to pay their way. Realistically, it will cost about $3000 each. If you know of an organization or individuals who might be willing to help with this first step of building a bridge between these two worlds and empowering children and teachers on both sides, please contact me. We have tentative plans to go a year from now – that will give us time to organize the trip and raise the needed funds.
In the meantime, I am longing to get back there. My mind keeps turning with all the possibilities of things we can do to assist these 150 children, children who really want to break out of the dire straights in which they have been placed and discover all the good things life might be able to offer them.