The other day, I found myself on one of those trail runs that accidentally fills your bucket. Nothing about the pace or the duration or the location should have made it that way. But as I scrolled through the usual suspects on my I-pod, a laundry list of meaningful ambitions and big plans surfaced – as they always seem to do when you’re nowhere near pen and paper.
You know that space. Somewhere between the ever-loudening playlist and the auto-pilot of the feet, there lies dreams of doing more, writing more, traveling more, giving more, stopping to notice more, becoming more.
Like most things, however, the music eventually stops and the dirty socks come off. And with it, the noise of the world welcomes itself back into those big plans. Like the documentary whose message is too-soon-forgotten, so too my list of grand things to do (and become) gets put on hold.
Four weeks from today, I depart for Ethiopia and – there waiting – are the hundreds of kids who have stirred in my mind on all of those runs in the past six months. They are the boys and girls studying under a tree who have no idea how much they’ve inspired my community and I to be good humans.
photo credit: Imagine1day
You see – a school is waiting to be built in a remote rural community of Tigray, Ethiopia. Together with the others from my Imagine1day team, we’re raising $100,000 to ensure that this happens – to ensure that there is clean water to drink, super cool books to read, chalkboards to fill with beautiful words, and resources to make sure their 3rd grade teacher will be as great as mine.
I could recount for you all the facts and figures about the power of educating a girl as the first step to changing the world, about the 90+ million people living in Ethiopia and the 3+million kids without primary education. But let’s be honest, you are just as resourceful as you are busy. And you already know that the world is filled with needs and different versions of the same story of ‘the least of the least.’
But here’s where the story changes. The goals are not insurmountable. The possibilities are REAL. As real as your morning latte and the pint of beer I’ll have at happy hour. These education goals are as real and POSSIBLE as the “to-become” lists we make when we are at our own best.
When I first joined the Imagine Ethiopia team, I signed a commitment to raise $7,500 as my contribution to building the school. I’ve used photography as a means to meet that goal – because it turns out, I’m not one to make an ‘ask.’ It seemed easier to put my nose to the proverbial grindstone than to make ‘the ask.’ To date, with amazing help from a community of YOUs, $12,800 has been raised in connection to my personal goal. This is all very humbling.
BUT the thing that had my mind reeling while running the other day is the reason I’m writing. Someday soon I’ll find myself in complete awe of just how much we can learn from the little girl who has nothing. As I look into her rich brown eyes, I need to know we did everything we could to enrich her world in the ways she is enriching mine. I do not want this to be a singular experience for a few who saw benefit through photography or for my close family and friends who couldn’t escape my incessant chatter about the project.
When smiling eyes are at stake, the work is never over – unlimited potential awaits. I’m hoping you’ll join me in reaching a new goal – because if I know anything about the people in my life, you are always always surprising me with your happy good human ways. I’m hoping all of our morning lattes stack up to another $2500. possible? absolutely.
photo credit: Imagine1day
Can I take you with me? I’ll be bringing my camera with me – and there’s a photo I imagine taking that keeps coming to mind. It’s one of a sea of happy kids running with effortless joy, with so little to hold on to but so much to be found. And in that moment, when I click the shutter, I want to take all of you with me. I want to be able to look through that lens and know that each of those happy footsteps is product of you and you and you and you and you…
And that we did everything we could. In big and small ways, we mattered.
Is all of this sounding too optimistic? I hope so. And I hope you’ll join me. Let’s be YES people.
If you’d like to make a contribution, click here. (You should know that 100% of your donation goes straight to the nitty gritty – we’re talking building materials, chalkboards, pencils etc – not a cent to marketing or admin. yay!)
Here’s wishing for you the something that finds you, the something that moves you to beauty and keeps your feet running, and – to borrow words from the region – I wish for you a “year of milk and honey.”
p.s. If you make a donation by Thursday, check out this super amazing donation matching program on GroupOn here! If you go this route, can you send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org so I can make sure to thank you personally? thank YOU!