It is early Tuesday morning, and it is so blustery that I expect Miss Gulch to go flying by my window at any moment. I have done little to no Christmas shopping for the big people in my life, and have been giving myself a talking to this morning. The wind is not helping, as my Bell’s Palsy Paranoia is tickling at me. We all have our things.
I have been really thinking a lot about the true meaning of Christmas and the nature of our world. What I have concluded is that Thich Nhat Hanh hits the nail on the head with his “what you feed grows” mantra.
This year has been an unveiling of so many harsh realities in our culture, racism, bigotry, classism, ignorance and death from a virus that has shut us down financially and emotionally. The negative implications of this year are massive. Lost income, homeschooling, isolation, loneliness, sickness and too many deaths have left our country collectively reeling. We are saturated with bad need and our anxiety is fed every instant of every day; and grows stronger for it.
And yet, I see so many positives; some so small you have to really be mindful to notice; others so generous, that it hard not to be completely choked up. It all depends upon what I choose to put my attention upon; this realization is mind changing.
What I have come to realize during this past time of COVID is that every little gesture of kindness makes a difference; every moment that I can do what I love brings huge gratitude. The admiration and love I am feeling for my students is immense. They have been resilient and hardworking, grateful and helpful, just about everything you hope to see in young people. My home life has also changed and an immense weight of worry has been lifted, and the profound nature of this relief has been unexpected. With this joyful energy in mind I am bringing back the five dollars challenge for the last ten days before Christmas.
MDC’s partner charity Ibutwa is a truly amazing. Founded locally here in Vermont (see MDC homepage for more info on why I work with Ibutwa), Ibutwa does remarkable work on a shoestring budget. For about five dollars a month girls and women who have suffered violence and loss of home and family in the Congo find a haven and a chance for education at Ibutwa.
Ibutwa means Renaissance; a rebirth of hope and opportunity that is life changing. Cleophace Mukeba, founder of Ibutwa was a refugee in the Congo, as was his wife. His first hand experiences gives him a unique vision for change. Ibutwa stays away from politics and simply does practical good work. Girls and women receive much needed medical and psychological help, schooling for the young, and life skills and training for adults.
Working with Ibutwa has reinforced my feeling that we can believe in our powers to make a difference. A small gesture might be the difference in a stranger’s day. A smile or kindness might be the only friendly moment of a socially isolated person existence. We don’t often know when we make a difference; the five dollar challenge is a clear example knowing we have and how a little effort can go a long way,
Five dollars: a magazine, a coffee, a six pack, cereal, a pint of Ben and Jerry’s, all these hover at the five dollar mark. How much would you or I miss one of those things. Yes, I love coco puffs, but knowing an injured scared young girl can go to school for a month makes it easier to miss a week of chocolatey goodness. A month of school, a world of opportunity opening up, for five dollars.
So, I ask all of you to donate five dollars (or more if not a hardship) to Ibutwa, and share this post with friends and ask them to donate. It is a chance to believe that we all make a difference in this world, and chance to participate fully in kindness and generosity.
During these last life changing few weeks, I have been utterly amazed by both the kindness and generosity of my inner circle. I have seen the power of keeping hope alive even when all reason for it seemed gone. I know now that not giving up; yet, not dwelling in sorrow is the sweet spot of life. Hope with no expectations; simply love and that is enough.
More than enough, as I have been wrapped in care and gestures of love, large and small. And though I am running on fumes, I will be forever grateful for the cause of the exhaustion. The gifts of past few weeks have been immeasurable, and in my own small way I wanted to give back; so again the 5 dollar challenge.
No fun jar at Spotlight with kids young and older bringing in allowance money, no Hoops visiting the studio as Santa. Just a heartfelt call to take five minutes and donate five dollars. Five dollars and change a girl’s life.
We have Dr. Jill Biden telling us girls will be heard, and Kamala Harris bringing a new energy to the faces of power. Let us believe that all girls deserve this chance to shine.
So let’s do the math, and begin five dollars at a time. We can all make a difference, all we have to do is believe.