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.