In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love.We all want our lives to matter, to know that something we said or did made a difference to someone. We all want to be part of something larger than ourselves....something that will go on even after we are gone.
I recently found a small way to make a difference for someone; just thinking about it warms my heart with satisfaction and joy.
I am sponsoring the education of this little girl: Mekides.
Mekides lives in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia with her mother and sister. Her father is deceased. She's in the 6th grade, attending a private school.
I "met" Mekides when I attended a fund raiser for the Children of Ethiopia Education Fund at the home of my property manager and friend, Linda Willis. Linda recently traveled to Ethiopia with this organization and came back very committed to their efforts.
I found Mekides when I was looking through the photos and stories of about 20 girls who had lost their sponsors due to the recession. When I saw her and read her story, I felt an immediate connection to her.
Her favorite subject is math, and I happen to be a bit of a math geek myself. She likes to play hide and seek, which I loved to do as a child also.
Mekides' smile reminded me of my niece Debbie, who I love. Debbie and all the other girls in America have the great privilege of attending school. Debbie won't be forced into child labor to support her family. Debbie won't be forced into prostitution or into an early marriage to an older man. Debbie won't contract AIDS from a wandering husband, because she has no power to say "no" or to insist on fidelity. Debbie will have the ability to direct her life and will be treated as an equal to everyone else in our society. I'm hopeful that my small contribution can help Mekides and her classmates get closer to having those same privileges and options too.
Organizations that work to end poverty in the developing world have found that educating girls is one of the most effective and powerful ways to lift an entire society. Investing in the education of girls provides huge returns, for a variety of reasons, much of them based on the nature of girls to use their resources and education to nurture others. (You can read more about it here and here).
I've sent my first letter to Mekides. I told Mekides about my niece Debbie, and sent her some pictures of Debbie and her sisters with their new baby brother:
I told Mekides about my job as a computer programmer, and how it can be fun, just like solving a puzzle or playing hide and go seek. I sent her this photo of me with some of my coworkers, so she can see that women and men can work together as equals.
I encouraged her to work hard and do her very best. I told her that the world needs smart, strong, educated girls, and how excited I am that she will be one of them.
If you'd like to sponsor the education of a girl also, you can do that for as little as $20 a month, and can sign up at the Children of Ethiopia Education Fund website.
P.S. After doing this, I posted Mekides' picture on my facebook profile, and one of my friends connected me with a young man who I once knew at my gym in Murray, who is now running an orphanage in Cameroon. Ryan Oliver Hansen writes beautiful, powerful stories about his experiences on his blog, which help me understand just how totally blessed I am. His efforts are also well worth supporting: Green Eyes In Africa