Posts tagged ‘Poverty’

August 18, 2010

Things on my mind

1. “Combat troops” leave Iraq

Crossing the Iraqi desert


“Operation Iraqi Freedom” is officially over. President Barack Obama stuck to his timetable of August 31 and today, the last 14,000 U.S. combat forces crossed the Iraqi border into Kuwait. This effectively brings the 71/2 year war to an end. There are about 50,000 troops left in Iraq but their job description lists them as “advisors” and trainers for the Iraqi police and military. It is definitely a historic day but with the Iraqi democracy in shambles and sectarian violence always a threat, time will tell what is to come.

2. The flood disaster in Pakistan

An example of the devastation


“The flooding in Pakistan has been of epic proportions: 20 million people affected; more than 1,400 dead; 900,000 homes damaged; 3.5 million children at risk of waterborne diseases. More people have been affected than in the 2004 South Asia tsunami, the 2005 South Asia earthquake, and the Haiti earthquake combined” However, aid has been slow to come in despite the fact that the United Nations is asking donors and countries for half the aid that they asked for in Haiti. Please find an organization and donate to the efforts.

3. My friends helping in Chile

Temporary shelter in Chile


As recently as February, there was a massive earthquake in Chile. The amount of destruction caused by the 8.8 quake was tremendous. Yet, Chileans remain as warm and loving as ever. I have two friends who are currently in Chile doing what they can to help. One of them has agreed to write about her time in Chile. Keep coming back to be a part of the experience.

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August 18, 2010

Adversity Wrapped in Hope

The past few days, we had some pretty atrocious weather here in Chillán. At night, I would lay in bed bundled up in my sleeping bag and with the wind howling at the window beside me and the rain rattling the roof above me, I found myself thinking about the families, who lost their homes in the earthquake and now live in temporary shelters, referred to by Chileans as “mediaguas.” I thought about my complaints of being cold or inconvenienced during our time here and suddenly it all paled in comparison to the plight of these people.

Angry clouds promising the threat of rain rolled in on Sunday, while I stood over a pot of boiling hot chocolate. After stirring the hot chocolate to perfection, we poured it into thermoses to deliver to families in mediaguas along with the chocolate chip cookies and brownies that we had spent baking and packaging the day before.

Rain tapped on my hood as I stood at the front door of the first home. We knocked on the front door and suddenly every insecurity that I’d been intentionally ignoring rushed to the front of my mind like the cold wind blowing at my back. “What would they think of these gringas showing up at their door? Would they understand my Spanish? Would they be blessed by our gift or would they find it impractical and possibly even insulting- the door opened and we were immediately invited in to take shelter from the weather.

I stepped into their home and all my fears melted away with the warmth of their greeting. Like typical Chileans, they proceeded to offer us food and drink. I couldn’t help laughing at the irony. The plan was to bless them, not the other way around. Overall, everyone seemed to be receptive. Most families were pretty open about their circumstances. One family in particular, a single mom with her aging mother and ten year old daughter, touched our hearts though.

With every family, the children were always eager to immediately try a chocolate chip cookie or brownie, but despite repeated encouragement, this little girl continued to decline. I could see it in her eyes. She didn’t want some sweet that would soon leave her yet again in want. She wanted something more.

As her mom was sharing about the hardships of caring for her family, while having no job for the past few months, the little girl began to cry. Feeling the weight of the burden this family was carrying, tears streamed down my cheeks. Trying hard to keep from sobbing, I wondered, “What am I doing here? Who am I kidding? We can’t fix these people’s problems.”

One of our friends, who came with us, circled everyone around the three of them and began to pray. I’ve been wrestling with God a lot these days and lately I’ve been finding prayer with other people to be a bit strange and often uncomfortable, but in this moment it couldn’t have felt more right. When our friend finished praying, there wasn’t a dry eye in the room. Though the burden was still there, it now felt lighter and a sense of peace was greater.

At that moment, I realized what this little girl wanted and every one of these families we visited are in need of is hope. I wish I could rescue them from their problems, but I can’t even rescue myself from my own. I think I know someone else, who can though. Someone, who often for reasons I never seem to understand, doesn’t always rescue us from our troubles. Yet I can’t deny the grace I’ve always seen given in the midst of those troubles or the times that I or others have clearly been rescued from unwanted circumstances. Some days it’s harder than others to believe that Jesus Christ is our only hope, but I guess it wouldn’t be faith if it was easy.

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful” Hebrews 10:23 (Holy Bible, English Standard Version).

August 17, 2010

Uganda and the Invisible Children

You may have noticed by the banner to the right of this page that we support Invisible Children Inc. I had assumed that everyone knew exactly who they are but it has dawned on me that this might not be true. Who am I to determine where you’ve been or what you have experienced? So, let’s start from the beginning shall we?

There was a civil war in Northern Uganda from the early 80’s to about 2008. It started as a rebellion against the Ugandan government in 1987, when a rebel group was formed; The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). No one is sure exactly what the LRA’s motives are since they seem to change from month to month. On one hand, they claim that their beef is with the Ugandan government and that they’re seeking to remove dictatorship and end the oppression of the Ugandan people. In reality, most of their atrocities were visited on the Ugandan people. The leader of this group, Joseph Kony is as mystical and mysterious as the group itself. He has been described as everything from demon possessed to Christian to Muslim. One thing he is though is cruel, heartless, evil personified etc.

The LRA has made a habit of using children as soldiers. Their modus operandi is to raid villages, killing adults and kidnapping children to be forced into battle. Along the way, they’ve raped, maimed, pillaged and so on. Their rationale is that children can easily be replaced by more raids on schools, villages etc. This is where the Invisible Children comes in.

In the spring of 2003, three young filmmakers traveled to Africa in search of a story. What started out as a filmmaking adventure transformed into much more when these boys from Southern California discovered a tragedy that disgusted and inspired them, a tragedy where children are both the weapons and the victims.

After returning to the States, they created the documentary “Invisible Children: Rough Cut,” a film that exposes the tragic realities of northern Uganda.s night commuters and child soldiers.

The film was originally shown to friends and family, but has now been seen by millions of people. The overwhelming response has been, “How can I help?” To answer this question, the non-profit Invisible Children, Inc. was created, giving compassionate individuals an effective way to respond to the situation.

Joseph Kony and the LRA are no longer in Uganda but have moved on to neighboring areas such as Southern Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The movie “Blood Diamond” shows an accurate picture of the kind of horror this group has inflicted and is inflicting. The good news is that the Ugandan Army, the Republic of Congo’s Army and the Sudanese Army are hot on their trail. Meanwhile, in Uganda, the Invisible Children Inc. is part of the healing process. You can find more information on how to help here.

Social Vibe has also made it easy to help. By clicking on the badge to the right of this page, you can do a few quick easy activities to help raise money for the cause.

August 12, 2010

La belleza de la humanidad

It’s been a week since we arrived here in Chile and I still can’t seem to believe that I’m actually here.  Memories flood my mind with every familiar sight, smell, and sound.  Friendly faces greet me with warm hugs and kisses asking, “Te acuerdas de mí?  Me acuerdo de ti!”  (Do you remember me?  I remember you!)  To be honest, there are some individuals that I don’t remember, but I have never forgotten the Chilean people as a whole.

Anyone, who knows me today, knows that I have a border-line obnoxious love for Latinos.  However, this wasn’t always the case.  In fact, the first time I came to Chile, I didn’t really want to be here – for many reasons that would take far too much time and detail to explain, but my heart just wasn’t here.  I didn’t completely hate my experience, but I clearly remember counting down the days until we finally got to leave.

Sitting in the Santiago airport waiting to board our flight back to the US, I remember staring out at the massive Andes before me wondering whether I had squandered my time.  In that moment, as clear as the marvelous view before me, I heard God say, “Yes, this is a sight to remember, but you will soon behold it again.”

Ever since my feet left the land of Chile in 2005, my growing passion for the country has confirmed the common saying, “absence makes the heart grow fonder”. Never in a million years, would I have wished the devastation of the February earthquake on my dear brothers and sisters, but in a way, I’m thankful that it motivated me to return.  My love for Chileans is so strong that I can’t help, but let it overflow.

When I was asked to contribute to the roundtable during my time here, I wondered, “What could I possibly have to contribute?  I’m just a crazy white girl with an unexplainable infatuation with Latinos.”  However, in the presence of my Chilean friends these last few days, I’ve been humbled by both their strength and contentment despite the many adversities of this year.  In only a few days, I’ve already been challenged to consider what really matters in life.

I am reminded of a quote from Mark Twain, which is my mission statement for traveling. “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts.  Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”  For those of you, who may never make it to this beautiful country and those, who still may, it is with this new perspective during this experience that I intend to share my thoughts with you – thoughts not merely about Chileans, but about the beauty of humanity.

August 12, 2010

Billionaires’ pledge

I have been excited by something that I found out about recently. Apparently, Warren Buffett and Bill Gates are going to be giving a major portion of their wealth away. Not only are they doing this, but they’re bringing a few of their peers with them.

Their goal is to convince every billionaire in the country to pledge at least 50% of their loot to charity. George Lucas, Barry Diller, Ted Turner and Michael Bloomberg are some of the people who are on board with them. To date, 38 others have joined them. You can find a current list of them here

Buffet has pledged 99% of his treasure. Figuring the remaining 1% would satisfy him and his family, he had this to say about his gift;

Measured by dollars, this commitment is large. In a comparative sense, though, many individuals give more to others every day… The dollars these people drop into a collection plate or give to United Way mean forgone movies, dinners out, or other personal pleasures. In contrast, my family and I will give up nothing we need or want by fulfilling this 99% pledge… Too often, a vast collection of possessions ends up possessing its owner. The asset I most value, aside from health, is interesting, diverse, and long-standing friends

Personally, I am challenged by such generosity as well as encouraged. Challenged in the sense that he is doing so much and encouraged by the fact that people like him are in tune with suffering around the world. Bill Gates insists that when the richest people in the world know just how the poor live, they’d be willing to help. “If we were aware, we would want to help out, we’d want to get involved.”

Should these men succeed, they’d raise just about 600 billion dollars. Imagine the possibilities…..

September 14, 2008

Where do the people fit in all this?

First of all I would like to thank rawdawgbuffalo for his unwavering support and kindness. You are a good man. And a shout out to Tera for the love. Your words were very encouraging to me and it is always refreshing to have people rooting for you.

Let me now stress that it is late and I should either be in bed or be at a club or something. Afterall, I am a 20 something and this is Saturday night/ Sunday morning. I shouldn’t even be tackling a serious subject such as this one but I have been bouncing it around in my head and I am sick of procastinating. Like I said in my last blog, I had two people recently join me in my vision and we are working together to bring it to life. As we were thinking of new ideas and what direction to go, one of them posed this question to me randomly and seemingly off topic; “what are your thoughts on McCain and VP running mate?”

Well, I haven’t given her my answer yet. You see, I am sick of this whole election thing. I am sick of the big circus around the two parties. I am sick of the drama, the theatrics, the high wire act, the lies, the attack Ads and the politics. Truth be told, I was sick of it as early as the Democratic Primaries. I got fed up as I watched Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama duke it out. It became about them and less about what America needed. The same holds true for John McCain and his pick of Sarah Palin. He didn’t pick Palin because she was capable. He didn’t pick Palin because he thought she’d make a good Vice President, he picked Palin because he wanted to win an election. I find all of it disgusting.

Lost in all of this is the voice of the people. Lost in all of the hoopla is the fact that we live in a country that is supposed to be democratic. Government of the People for the People and by the people. Do we have the ear of Washington? Obama can you hear the frustration? McCain can you see the despair? Do you understand that there are hardworking families out here, who work three or four jobs just to survive on the barest of minimums. Can you feel that our system of education is broken and that lots of students continue to slip through the cracks? Do you know that important programs are being cut from our schools to divert funds to other things?

I could go on and on but these are some of the issues that are important to me. This is why I am doing what I am doing. I am tired of waiting on the system to realize that it is decaying from the inside. While they try to figure and sort out who the next president is going to be, I am going to spend my time taking on these tough questions. I don’t know that I can ever solve them but I am not going to just ignore them. For one, I know I am doing the right thing and I also know that I am not alone. I hope the next president will take it back to the basics and what matters; Americans. Meanwhile, wake me up when they get to the important stuff.

February 5, 2008

Interview with a man bringing change

In light of what our theme was for this week; which is highlighting the positive news and positive events that are going on around the world.

So I talked to one of those people who is a living example. Compassion Dave is a volunteer advocate for Compassion International. Now, for those of you who do not know, Compassion is an international organization that is focused on providing for the “spiritual, physical, economic and social needs of children”

I met Dave via myspace as he was campaigning to win the Myspace Impact Award for Compassion International (he did win and earned a cool 10,000 big ones for their cause). He graciously agreed to answer some questions that I have for his motivation. Here it is, completely unedited and in his own words;
1. Tell us a little bit about what it is that you do?

I am married and am a stay-at home dad. As far as the ministry of Compassion International goes, I am a volunteer advocate for children living in the worst kind of poverty around the world. I am also a volunteer ‘area coordinator’ for Compassion. All that means is that I facilitate a team of other like-minded volunteers in my area (essentially the top 1/2 of New Jersey and New York City.

2. How did you come to be doing it?

I started out as just a child sponsor about 9 years ago. About 6 years ago our family was up to about 4 sponsorships and I wanted to sponsor more children, but thought we could not afford to, so I looked into becoming a volunteer. Ironically, as soon as I became a volunteer my wife announced that she had sponsored another child.

Obviously the Lord was leading us and enabling us to do these thing. Today my wife and I have 11 sponsorships, although not all of them are with Compassion International.

3. What drives you to do it?

The Lord is the driving force. I confess that perhaps ‘initially’ I was driven by the flesh to, “do something good” for these kids, but soon after, the Lord and His mandates for the poor took over. About 4 years ago I was on a mission trip to India and while there, the Lord truly broke my heart for the ‘least of these’ and He focused the ministry He has given me.

4. Why do you think that causes like yours do not get appropriate coverage in our media today?

I think there are several reasons. I believe the bottom line is that the god of the world, satan, has his fingers in much of what we know as the ‘media’, and all of the ‘other’ reasons stems from that basic one. Frankly, the media industry is a business, and they aren’t very quick to give cut-rate airtime to anybody, let alone non-profit ministries.

This is precisely the reason we focus on bringing our message directly to the church and we rely very much on the Body of Christ to yield to the moving’s of the Holy Spirit so that His will (will) be done on earth.

Sadly, I really cannot blast the media to much when so many churches are dropping the ball in the area of world missions as well. The church NEEDS to be more obedient, plain and simple.

5. How do you think that we can improve that?

I kind of touched on it in the last response. The media is ‘the media’, and the church is ‘the church’–I think we should focus on our individually responsibility as Christians to the Body of Christ, the Church. That can be summed up in one word: obedience.

Now I am not suggesting that our Lord is telling every Christian to sponsor a Compassion child; that would be ridiculous, but I am saying that the Lord is guiding each of us to do SOMETHING. Imagine for one moment what a blessed place this planet would be if every person who identifies himself or herself with Christ was determined to do what the Lord was asking of them.

6. What advice would you give someone on how best they can change the world?

Listen to the Holy Spirit and obey.

For those who have read that last sentence and thought, “But God isn’t talking to me, ” I would respond, “Yes He is, but maybe you’re doing things that block His voice.” In order to hear God’s voice clearly, we need to be obedient to the last thing He said to us. What is that last thing? I’d suggest to you, “You know exactly what it is.”

But still, some may not hear God and are looking for a ‘starting point’ in order to know God’s will in their life. That starting point is found in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

Start here, and after a ‘season’ of obedience, the Lord’s voice will become clear to you. I guarentee if your heart is in it, the Lord’s voice will get clearer and clearer.

God bless.

If you are interested in helping Compassion International out, check out our blogroll for the link to their site.