…pick up your pen and write.” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
It has been too long since I wrote about my remarkable trip to India, though I think of it every day. I communicate with my “new family” every week to receive updates or simply to say, I am thinking of you, I love you. Although I have yet to finish my chronicles of India (with only 3 days left to write about) I feel compelled to jump back in with purpose.
I have been agonizing over how to reconcile the differences between the life I live and the lives of those in the poorest places. My surroundings are a stark contrast of those whom I’ve met and I feel uncomfortable with this now. I think about how the wealthy people in these countries must feel, or do they just consider themselves hard working or fortunate? To be in such proximity of desperately malnourished people–people who share everything else with them, culture, food, physical features, religion, and even the air around them–it must be strange. Although, I have driven past many homeless people in America without more than a twinge of pity and often thinking they “made that choice” that put them in that circumstance. This is how I “deal with it” in my own environment.
When you want to help but nothing seems like enough, you have to start small. Plant a seed and let it grow. This is the choice I have made and the seed I am planting is my investment in a person who is making the changes she wants to see in her world.
My sister-friend, Afroj, is that person. She is doing good things in her village and also across her state for the women and children she believes deserve better. In my own small way, I want to help her continue her work by offering her a bit of much needed assistance. Afroj works for the NGO Roshni (I wrote about this in my post “Children of a Lesser God”). She walks over 2 kilometers each way, in her old flip flops, to make sure 20+ children (untouchables) learn and have someone to look after them while their parents work in the farm fields. On the weekends and in evenings she teaches their mothers life skills. She teaches them about HIV, health exams for malnourished children, how to use a washing machine, and advises them of their rights. She is fighting to end child brides in her state too. It is not legal to marry a child but it is still done all over M.P. and it won’t change until women have the courage to say NO. I want to start helping Afroj in a very simple way. I want to buy her a moped/vespa on which she can drive around to each location instead of walk. When I was sitting with her she was rubbing her sore feet from all the walking she had done that day. She would do more if she had a car but a vespa is less expensive (fuel too) and will make the world of difference for her. It almost sounds so insignificant but little things truly do mean a lot. Can you imagine not having transportation and still the will to get where you feel you need to be every single day? She does not have a bicycle either, her sons have to use them to ride to school (6 kilometers one way). The picture is of Afroj and her brother, Yassen. I know that together we can make the life of one amazing woman better. Please consider a small donation. The money can be deposited in my pay pal account (email upon request). If you feel uneasy about donating, please know that I believe in karma and would never intentionally deceive or fraud a soul. Any extra money will be deposited in Afroj’s bank account to be used to continue her efforts.