Who would have known. Of all the places in the world that she could have gone… who would have known that my good friend and colleague, Paula Schuck would be sent to Colombia. A few months ago she told me in confidence that she was going to work with an international NGO. World Vision is an organization that has been helping families for almost 50 years. I had heard of them and I knew who they were but I didn’t really know what they were doing… what they have been doing. More importantly what they had been doing in the country of my origins.
Who would have known how her trepidation and concern of visiting a developing country would have impacted her so much and me even more. Before her departure, we talked about vaccinations, the food, the weather, culture and customs. I have not been to Colombia in 14 years, some things have changed others have not. I told her what I could, the social norms I am familiar with. The ones my mother had taught me. The ones I had experienced on my visits as a child, and later on as an adult.
Who would have known that she would only see a sliver of what I have seen in my lifetime. Who would have known that she would get the chance of a life time to go to rural areas of my native land, the land of my parents and family, that many of my relatives had never been too. Who would have known that her journey would be my journey too. My journey differs from hers in that it is an introspective but a journey no less.
Who would have known it would make me cry?
I didn’t know.
My Mom didn’t know.
Her family didn’t know either.
What can you say when you read the raw, first hand stories of people that live in your country of birth? I am sure if you are Canadian and see children in poverty here you would feel a sense of sadness even shame. That is no less what I felt as I heard the stories that Paula told me, as I read her account of what she saw. It is the story as seen through the eyes of a Canadian. Some of the posts are heartbreaking and so very sad but most are uplifting and let you see the impact that World Vision has made. If you can, you should read her series on World vision in Colombia.
I realize as I read her stories of hope, of perseverance, of poverty and struggle, of determination, of courage, of destitution and triumph, each and every story has impacted me just as much if not more because it is a story of a country I know… but it is now obvious to me, that I didn’t know well enough. In her series for World Vision Canada Paula talked about the overwhelming need and outstanding work that this NGO has done in Colombia. With the help of many Canadians that have sponsored children through the years or have sent donations for gifts or projects.
This journey has helped me understand the power that one person can have. The way that I am bring up my children in Canada would be no different than how you would bring up yours in Canada or the US. I expect them to have good grades, I encourage and support their love of organized sports and I teach then how to become good citizens in this developed country. I also try, in my wisdom, to teach them that there are others in this world that do not have the privileges that they hold dear (and sometimes take for granted). It was my eldest, with her trip to Ecuador with Me to We that made me more aware of the plight of children in South America. “They are always so happy” she said. “They have so little, yet they value their uniforms so that they can go to school and learn.” The impact was deep and long lasting. She was there to help build a high school for children in the mountains of Ecuador. This trip taught her that there is a time and a place where one must give back.
As I was drawn into the stories that my friend wrote on her life changing trip to Colombia, I was reminded that it is up to us to make a change in someone else’s lives. Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to give back. Giving does not have to be a grand gesture but it does have to be a deliberate one.
Young men and women who were formerly sponsored by Canadian sponsors in Transicion al Desarollo now work for World Vision Colombia’s Bucaramanga program. Here, they proudly display the photos taken when they were first registered in the sponsorship program. Most have attended university with the assistance of WV Colombia’s bursary program; and now are giving back to their communities as young leaders and WV staff. Many of them sponsor Colombian children as a way of giving back and contributing to the development process in their country.
From the World Vision Website
So, I am making a deliberate appeal to my friends and family to consider giving to help one child succeed in an otherwise challenging environment. I have decided to create a World Vision Wishlist that you can visit. This Wishlist has items that I think (with the help of Paula’s blog posts) will help children and their families. I have asked the World Vision people to ensure, that as much as possible, that these gifts be directed to families in Colombia.
I ask you to consider making your own wish list and sharing it with your boss, your co-workers, your family and friends. Make this the year you decided that you want to change someone else’s life. You know you impact your children’s lives… maybe, just maybe, you can impact a child’s life that goes on to become a hard working adult that choses to give back.
I have created my World Vision Wishlist from the Christmas Gift Catalogue and this is what I purchased:
So as you can see – I have put my money where my mouth is… I have made the choice to donate for the good of my family to other families in need.
- For My Sporty Spice Daughter that loves soccer and volleyball – I gift you Three Soccer Balls and More (you can read Paula’s post so see what ‘more’ really means).
- To my husband I will donate medicine to 10 children because this gift has a 9 time value so for my $30 World Vision will actually spend $270 because of donations given by partner companies.
- To my generous son at your request I gift a piglets and chicks because you thought that there was value for money in getting multiples items that provided food. Animals will help many people not just one. You said it seemed the ‘logical’ thing to do and as we all know, you base your life on logical thinking.
- To my eldest daughter that is studying International Development and Globalization in university, you have taught me that the plight of most girls in this world is to get access to education so I gift you supplies for a classroom so that we continue to educate girls. Once again, this is a multiple gift with 7 times the value. So for my $50 partner companies will spend $350 to supply schools. All around more bang for your buck. More girls get a bigger shot at a good life.
See how easy that was? Find a donation that speaks to you and find a way to donate a little or a lot. But know that these gifts will make a change in our lives and more importantly, the lives of children, families and communities (I hope for the most part in Colombia) but I pray, that it helps someone in need.
You can read ALL of Paula’s heartfelt, inspirational and first-hand stories of her trip to Colombia with World Vision Canada:
Part 1: The Briefing
Part 2: Where Hope Lives
Part 3: What a Soccer Ball Looks Like
Part 4: When I Sponsor a Child with World Vision Canada
Part 5: Two Hands Are Enough
Disclosure: I am part of the World Vision team of bloggers that want to bring greater awareness to the work that they do. I have been compensated for this post but have chosen to donate to World Vision. All opinions are my own.