Today is Blog Action Day, and the topic is poverty. This is a topic I thought I knew something about, having been, at one point, a single mother, pregnant with another child, bankrupt and barely employed. In the years since, I’ve “qualified” as living at or below the poverty line a few times.
But since I signed up to participate in Blog Action Day, forces in my life have conspired to teach me that I don’t know shit about poverty. I haven’t seen poverty – real poverty – in my life. And, I probably won’t. At least not the poverty some of the people on this planet are living with. Thank God.
Great Things Come Through Great People
Let me introduce you to the lady who helped me realize, once again, how very blessed I am. Irene Kabot is her name, and she’s a gym teacher in an elementary school in New Rochelle, NY. Well, ok – that’s her day job. Who she is? Whole ‘nother story, folks. But this really isn’t about her, either, and she’d be mad at me if I made it about her, cuz she’s humble like that – for real.
Suffice it to say, when my friend Nancy told Irene that I could help her with her websites, Nancy did a whole lot more for me than send me a new client. But Nancy’s like that, too – she’s just good people and she’s always up to something good.
So, Irene contacts me, and I’m going about my usual deal finding out what she’s got online already (if anything), what she wants done and how I can help. I found out that she actually needed 3 websites built from the one she’d put together herself, but wasn’t at all happy with. No problem, I’m thinking…so I write her up a proposal, she accepts it and we get busy.
Oh. My. God.
Get a Load of This
Right now, as you read this, children in Kibwezi, Kenya, Africa are missing school because they have to walk for hours to get water for their families to drink. Seriously, they walk for miles to get it and then have to carry it home. Every. Damn. Day.
As bad as that is, you know what’s worse? Their village sits atop a water table! At home, they’re within 50 feet of fresh, clean, plentiful water, but they can’t get to it because it costs about $4,000 to dig a well. Is that ridiculous, or what?!
Wells of Love and Hope
When Irene learned of this, she couldn’t sit still. She had to do something. So, she started a project, which now is in the process of becoming a non-profit organization, called Wells of Love and Hope. Please go visit her site (we’re not done with it, but there’s definitely enough there for you to get the picture of what’s going on and what she’s doing about it) and make a contribution.
She learned of this just a year ago, and in that space of time, she’s coordinated fund-raising efforts at her school and raised enough money for two wells and they’re working on a third. She went to Kibwezi this past August and saw first-hand what’s its like for the people there, and came home with a renewed fervor to make a difference.
They’ve also started a program called Seedlings for Sustainability, where $20 will purchase and pay for the care of a seedling tree to be planted and cared for by the Kibwezi children. Their reward for their work caring for the trees is school supplies. A simple pencil is a HUGE deal for them. A notebook? Like handing a kid an iPod, here.
Kibwezi is Stuck…and Stuck SUCKS!
There’s an out-of-sight-out-of-mind element here that makes it easy for us to be exposed to something like this, yet not do anything about it. Kenya’s a helluva long way away from me here in Oklahoma, from all of us here in the States. And yes, we all have our own problems and challenges here to deal with. We’re paying outrageous sums at the gas pumps, people are losing their homes to foreclosure, our whole financial system is a wreck… But as bad as we think it is…we’ve got it GOOD.
Do you have to tell your kids they CAN’T go to school today because they need to walk miles for water?
Do you realize, albeit too late, that having cut down all the trees in your town to sell them for lumber fed your family for a little while, but now the trees are gone and there hasn’t been significant rain in years and you’re screwed? And how about the fact that your family would have been screwed just that much earlier if you HADN’T cut down those trees, because there’s nothing else to do to make a buck BUT cut down the damn trees?
These folks aren’t looking for us to fix their problems and do for them what they can and should do for themselves. They simply need some help to get un-stuck. And a little help from us is a TRUCKLOAD of help to them.
Irene wrote a really moving description of how Wells of Love and Hope came to be. One of the things she wanted to say, but didn’t (because it would have been too “off color” for some of the audiences it will reach) was how the people of Kibwezi are stuck and how much being stuck SUCKS!
So, this post’s title is in honor of Irene and all that she does. I’m honored and privileged to now be a part of the Wells project. I encourage you to visit Irene’s site – bookmark it, because there’s a lot more to come – and make a donation. No, right now your donation is not tax deductible, but come on – is a $20 donation to buy a tree or help dig a well REALLY gonna make THAT much of a difference on your taxes?
No, probably not. But it will make a HUGE difference in Kibwezi.
And now there are only three people between you and a child in Kibwezi. You know me, I know Irene, she knows Agnes and Agnes knows all of Kibwezi. Put that way, they seem a LOT closer, don’t they?
And hopefully a lot harder to ignore.