Take Your Turn to Make a Difference When it Presents Itself http://compassioninternational.com
Every day I turn on the news and see two things. First, it’s a barrage of advertisements that tell me I need to look a certain way and act a certain way to qualify as a “real woman.” Second, it’s news stories that document the sad state of women around the world. Now, I don’t have a doctorate in world problem solving, but I have enough common sense to understand that the only way girls and women will come out of feeling like their looks define them is through education and encouragement. Girls need to be made to feel special and empowered, instead of defined by the color of their skin or how they dress.
Six years ago I had the opportunity to travel to India. I saw firsthand how western marketing had a stronghold over how the women saw themselves. Several times I was told flat out that I was more beautiful than Indian women because I had lighter skin. I’d always smile and tell them I would love to have their dark skin tone.
When I returned to the U.S. I went on with my life. Then, in 2011, I was reminded of how much young girls around the world need to be told they’re worthy of everything young boys are. My job required significant involvement in a mission trip to India. I was reminded of sad stories of girls being valued less than boys. Education, food and other basic necessities were more often withheld from girls because they were perceived as less valuable. Marrying a female child off was far more expensive than marrying a male child off. Girls were a burden.
The day I was reminded of these stories was the day I decided to get out of my American consumer driven mindset and recognize the needs of someone other than myself. Technology meant I didn’t have to wait for the “right opportunity.” I could get online, pick a country and a child and donate to help fund their education, healthy meals and medical care. For less than the cost of a Starbucks frappe-mocha-whatever a day I had the power to be the change.
I logged on to Compassion International's website, an organization I had heard of through other people who sponsored children, and chose a little girl from India. Compassion has a long history of impacting the lives of children around the world.
This young girl’s sweet dark braids and brown eyes spoke to me. In her I saw the potential that others may have overlooked. While she might feel invisible being one in a billion, I saw her as the opposite: uniquely one in a billion.
My small monthly gift would provide her with nutrition and the energy needed to study and to walk to and from school. Studying would give her the education she needed to escape the trap of poverty she had the misfortune of being born into. Local community mentors would sow seeds of encouragement and love in her daily life. In this young child was the potential that every human being is born with. She simply needed someone to recognize it and on that day the right person was me.
In a way, giving to Compassion was like paying homage to my cultural roots - giving back to the country that birthed my grandfather and ultimately my family, but it was so much more. It taught me that how children see the world is contingent on their interactions with other people. While I can’t control how everyone treats children, I can lead by example and ensure I make a difference from my corner of the world.
Review from #MyGivingStory