Two Hands are Enough – My Experience Travelling with World Vision Canada
People told me I’d be changed after travelling with World Vision Canada. That’s fair, of course and true and yet also trite. Inadequate.
Words sometimes are so thin, evasive and even limiting. Changed doesn’t begin to capture the depth or range of emotions that I felt when walking through Asimiflor, a brand new area development program in Bucaramanga. the saddest place I have ever seen children living. My week in Colombia with World Vision Canada was jam packed with big adventures and interviews and so many stories shared that I will be recounting them for a decade or more. Eye opening? Yes. Exciting? Yes. Exhausting and heartbreaking and sad and beautiful and inspiring and so many words. So many feelings.
But here’s the thing. As I left the country where I was so warmly welcomed I couldn’t help but feel words are not enough. Not even close. On my last night there after such an emotional journey I sat in my room repacking and crying. I was overtired, drained, overwhelmed and sad. But I got to leave. I was feeling guilty in some ways because of that I suppose. I make my home in this place of privilege, this country of massive wide open spaces and roads that are magnificent by comparison to what we drove on that week. I got to visit and then I got to leave.
I love my home. I love Canada more every time I travel. We are a fortunate country, rich with resources and mostly peaceful people. We are a country built with beautiful cultures and traditions. We are beyond privileged in so many ways. I will return home and tell the stories and I will sponsor a child from Colombia ( a boy 9 or up because I see that that age group is in dire need.) and I will buy some gifts from the World Vision gift catalogue and I will hope to come back and see Asimiflor flourishing one day. But then what?
There are so many reasons Not to act.
So many excuses. I hear them often.
Excuse one: “I was planning to sponsor a child, but it’s too expensive.”
No, it’s not actually. $39 a month is not much at all for something so big. The return on investment is massive. Read my other posts to see how one child sponsored by World Vision Canada ends up changing an entire community.
Excuse two: “I don’t get how the gift catalogue works.”
You purchase a gift like fruit trees or soccer balls, or medicine and you request that a card is sent to someone you love. Then you are gifting something that gives back and creating a very meaningful present for someone. (Please friends and family who read my blog if you are going to buy me anything this year I want it to be something from the World Vision gift catalogue.)
Excuse three: “We have kids living in poverty at home. Shouldn’t we take care of them first?”
Yes, we do and we are. World Vision Canada also has a section for that. But the experience of poverty in Canada is dramatically different than that in a place like Asimiflor. Where sewage still overflows when it rains and homes are built with a tarp and slats that leave big gaps in the kitchen floor large enough to fall through and slide down a steep mountain. Where kids dodge dirt and dog feces and vultures to play. Where small earthquakes happen almost daily and people barely notice any more. Where one truly hard rain could easily wash the entire settlement away because it is that fragile and built into the edge of a mountain. In a space like this, sponsorship and help is essential.
In Canada and the United States we are a culture that sometimes frames help and support in terms of Hand outs.
Everyone has an aunt or uncle who rants at Thanksgiving dinner:
“I built a business, a family, a career and I own my home and I did it all myself. Nobody helped me. So why should I help someone looking for a hand out?”
Hand out is a hateful term weighted with hints of you don’t deserve my support.
Today I found this quote (not sure who said it)
And I liked it, so I wanted to share.
There’s a reason you have two hands.
One is for you and the other is for helping.
Please remember this, especially this holiday season. In spaces like Santander De Quilichao where an ADP is now done (each area development program lasts 15 to 18 years and then World Vision Colombia moves somewhere else they are needed.) even the children understand the concept of support and dignity.
High school students spend two hours each day at Policarpa school building a field, that will some day be the play area, the yard or gymnasium space for an elementary school. A teacher who is also an engineer uses his time and skills to help make this work.
The mothers in the area have taken everything they have learned from World Vision Canada and World Vision Colombia and built sustainable food projects and small businesses to help single mothers succeed. I believe World Vision Canada calls it a difference development model.
Essentially it means – I will support you and teach you how to do this and soon you will be able to do it yourself as a community working together for each other. That’s a hand up, support, and kindness. Sustainable development.
It’s the right thing to do any time of the year.
I am sharing my journey to Colombia with World Vision Canada here on the blog in a series.
You can read
You can also follow World Vision on twitter at http://www.twitter.com/worldvisioncan/
and on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WorldVisionCan
I travelled with World Vision Canada as a guest so I could tell these stories.
Thank you so much for sharing this story. It’s sad to think what some people have to go through in their day to day lives.
I could not imagine the experience you had while there. I would be like you and be torn when it was time to go home.
thank for sharing your story and your time there. You’re inspiring.
What a great opportunity and experience you had and hopefully from your words you can encourage others to do what you did by helping others… even if they cannot leave their country.
I think sponsoring a child is a great idea. $39 is not a lot for something that will make such a big difference in someone’s life.
I love that you’re asking for any gift you receive to be from the catalogue. I’m glad they’re making a difference!
Heather @ Girl Gone Mom
This is awesome that you had the chance to experience the area first hand. Great cause.
Celebrity VIP Lounge
Oh I love this. What a great experience. Thanks for sharing. Amber N
How wonderful and thank you so much for sharing the trip with us.
Lois Alter Mark
That’s a great quote and it sounds like it was a life-changing experience.
Thank you so much for going indepth into so much about how it all works – it really makes a difference knowing. x
April @ 100lb Countdown
I love how you presented this. I help many organizations and I appreciate one that helps kids in other countries.
This post is both very sad and very inspiring. As a mother, my heart breaks to hear about how children from countries like this grow up in such poverty and how much help they need just to get by. Your trip and words both inspire me to do more.
What a great opportunity to give back! Very inspiring!
Thank you for sharing this story. Thanks for giving back inspiring others!
life can be tough in third world countries.
We do need to count our blessings and help others
I think it is amazing what you did with World Vision Canada. Thank you for sharing all your insight with us.
Thank you for sharing about your work with World Vision Canada. I think it is such a great thing to be able to help others like that.
Tough Cookie Mommy
This is such an important lesson to teach our children. They have to pay forward to those less fortunate.
Thank you so much for sharing your eye-opening experiences with us, and I agree $39 is not much at all to help change someone’s life.
I have always taught my kids to be grateful that we live in a country like Canada. I have a child i have supported for years threw this program.
Sounds like you had a life changing experience! Thanks for sharing it with us.
I am so glad you shared your experience. It is not always easy to focus on the needs of others, but it is critical to do so.
I think you going there to help is wonderful. Giving back is a thing I’m trying this year. I’m working hard to give back in a new way each month. This is a perfect example of a great program to take advantage of.
I really have no words right now other than than you. Paula thank you for sharing this powerful story and reminding us that we have enough. I think the gift cataloge is a wonderful idea! What better way to celebrate the birth of Christ then to give to those in need. <3
We are so blessed to live in Canada that we often take it for granted. Sounds like your trip was a real eye opener. I think the gift catalogue is a great idea and the perfect gift to “give” someone on your list who is hard to buy for.
Thank you for sharing. I love the gift catalogue and will be checking it out.
Thank you so much for sharing. And I love this quote you posted “There’s a reason you have two hands.
One is for you and the other is for helping.”
We should all remember this – thanks for the reminder!
Our family sponsors four children, one for each of our own children. It truly makes us feel blessed to do so.
Thank you so much for sharing your journey and opening eyes to the poverty and need to help others. I will purchase for gifts from the World Vision Catalogue, I have in the past purchased goats, hens and such for women in Sudan.
Wonderful thanks for sharing, I have a world vision child
that’s a really good cause!