Without Borders...

Abby and Sara have been best friends since they met in the dorms at Colorado State University in 2002. Each year since then, they have been on at least one trip together, with the last few years consisting of backpacking travels through Europe.

In 2010, they decided to put their desire to see the world towards a more constructive cause. Instead of taking an adventurous vacation, they chose to visit Tanzania and volunteer with Light in Africa for five weeks.

This winter, they are going back to Light in Africa to volunteer for another five weeks, and can't wait to see how much "their" kids have grown!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

"Life is life. It is our duty to help anybody and everybody"

Last week, I spent an evening telling a new friend about my experience in Tanzania. I was immediately encountered with a problem - where to start? How to truly convey why Tanzania? Why there? and Why am I going back? Truth is - you can't explain it.
On the way home, I found myself stuck on a late train - again! Irritated, I decided to google some more information for my friend about LIA and came upon this video - a documentary about the organization. My irritation quickly grew to tears - joy - and finally extreme anticipation.
Also, excitement that I could better show people why we're going back. Please take a look at the video and experience what we did. Experience:

  • Junior, the boy at the beginning who came to our birthday party last time
  • Mama Lynn, the inspiring women whose word we clung to - the Angel of Kilimanjaro
  • The beautiful children at Tudor Village, whose faces, laughs and songs are permanently engrained in my mind
  • A dispensary in a remote Masaai village, which we also ran with the raised funds in 2010, where we gave medicine and washed many infected heads
  • The food kitchen, that feeds a community in Mirenai - a city without banks or post offices
Hope you like it as much as I did! And if you would like to support, please visit our Fundly Page

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Generosity is a Verb

I’ve been meaning to write a post about generosity, and how giving is so simple, and yet so easy to put off.  As I’m attempting to put my mess of thoughts on paper however, I quickly realized my thoughts on generosity really had a lot to do with action.  A generous spirit is only impactful if you take the action required to give. 

My parents taught me at a young age to help those who need it, and give without wanting anything in return.  I’ve tried to follow those guidelines throughout my life, and when it comes to giving my money to Light in Africa, for me - it’s a no brainer.  Giving to a charity you’re invested in is easy, you know that the money is going to a great cause and supporting some amazing people.  You also know the people behind the scene are squeezing every last penny out of each dollar they get, which to me, matters a lot as well.

The last time I got back from Africa, and I was struggling with the guilt of being back home, and with how I’d be able to afford to get back to Tanzania, I was asked why I felt like it was so important for me to get back.   Why didn’t I just send LIA in the $2000 I would spend on flights, the $25 a day I spend to stay there (+/- $800), the $300 in visa fees, etc., rather than wanting to spend it on myself and “waste it”.  My answer was these kids need support of all kinds.  They need arms to be held with, legs to run around with, smiles to encourage, and laps to sit in.  Feeding these kids during their current drought situation is incredibly important, but also making them forget for just a few minutes a day what they’ve been though, and they are genuinely loved, is a close second in my opinion.  Don’t get me wrong, being with those kids was the most rewarding and perma-grin experiences I’ve ever had – being there is a selfish move.  It is certainly no vacation, but I’m absolutely getting something from my giving.   My hope is that through our experience, our friends and family back home are also getting something.  Through Abby’s and my stories, I hope you feel connected to this organization and these children. 

My wish is that our experiences affect you, and that you feel compelled to do something.  Whatever your “action” is will be impactful to those who have so little.  My amazing parents were the ones I talked about in my last post who gave $1000 to Light in Africa early.  As Mama Lynn and Abby each discussed in their last posts, through their incredible generosity, the food kitchen Light in Africa runs that feeds 300 street children, 5 days a week is able to stay open.  Every time I even think about how amazing and life altering their donation was, I tear up.  Like Abby, I remember those faces in the food kitchen, and I feel so proud that my parents were willing to support these kids they’ve never met so generously.  They literally saved some starving orphans in Africa, whoa.

Clearly a donation of that quantity is not common, but the reason I shared their generous story, was because I want people to remember that their money is a tool.  The selfless people who run Light in Africa save their kids daily, but without our support, their hands are tied. 

Please consider giving something to these kiddos we love so much.  You can donate directly to the organization here, sponsor a child here, or donate online through Abby & I, and we can use your money however you’d like.  If you’d like to buy some Christmas gifts for the kids, we can do that.  If you want to pay for some food for the food kitchen, we can do that.  If you want us to find some mother who needs help with her bills, we can do that.  We feel so honored to be a part of the action behind your generosity.  

Video of Light In Africa

Video of pictures from our 2010 trip

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Keeping the food kitchen open

In Sara's last post she mentioned a very generous donation, and what was done with it. I thought I would share the last post from the organization itself: http://www.lightinafrica.org/blog/index.php?entry=entry121007-100557. Thanks to this generous support, the food kitchen was able to stay open in this severe drought, which is truly amazing.

Working there 2 years ago, I can still remember the faces of those many kids coming from school to have their only meal of the day thanks to Light in Africa. It bring smiles and tears to face all at the same time - thinking what would have happened, had they not stayed open and thinking about those lively kids coming to the food kitchen.

So I just thought I'd add that short link and also thank our generous donator!

As for me, I have had 4 weeks of pure stress and I having finally been able to sit down and think about what my stress is compared to those kids at LIA. Where they are worried where to get the next meal, I am well fed (much too well), healthy, and spoiled. Looking forward to getting grounded again soon ... and seeing all those smiles at the food kitchen!