I want to introduce you to the following:
The Gan Sabra Orphanage- I met an amazing woman through Unicef named Lucy. She lives in North East India near Burma and Bangladesh. She's 31 and she's a social worker who has set up the only orphanage for AIDS orphans in Aizawl--which is the capital of Mizoram, the state they live in. She has set up day cares and has provided assitance to the families of children suffering from HIV/AIDS. The work she has done is amazing (it seems she's doing this alone) and they take care of 10+ (all under the age of 10) children with medicines and everything for only $200 a month. Because of lack of funds they can only take care of a certain number but currently have a waiting list of over 90 kids. What these children have to endure is ridiculous and most are not living past 12 yrs old due to the discrimination, lack of care and abuse (including rapes unfortunately). They have been the feature of some press coverage for mostly European news companies (panos.co.uk and a german site) and now have their own website (click on the link above to see! If you want to see pictures of some of the kids click HERE). Whilst they have many hardships they have many successes. The two eldest recently passed their school exams and are first in their class and they are building a new day care from land that was donated!
I have become friends with the founders Claire and Lara through Blogger actually. Their site was a 'blog of note' and I randomly e-mailed them and discussed our work w/orphanages and have been friends since. Claire and Lara are American, graduates from Stanford and only 25. They have set up a charity/NGO called Hope Runs for HIV/AIDS orphans in Nyeri, Kenya. They use running as a means of motivation and giving hope to these kids (about 120 of them up to the ages of 22 approx) in the form of after school clubs, etc. They are also doing other things to assist like getting I.T. and art programs sorted for them and trying to create long-term sustainability for the children's home they live in. 22 of the children (all with HIV/AIDS)recently completed the Kenya Marathon--some doing the 26.2 miles in 4 hours I believe! (If you want to see pictures of the kids click HERE and to see the site maintained by the kids click HERE)
I have been helping Gan Sabra since Jan 2007 and have been doing little things for Hope Runs since the spring (approx). Although I am not the richest person in the world, I have managed to help these folks a bit and I can see the fruits of my labors (particularly Gan Sabra). The joy I get hearing about the fact these rugrats are doing well just doesn't compare with anything. I never thought I could do much to make a difference but I know that even the smallest thing can change the world. I've got my own problems believe me and am far from being the next Mother Theresa but I know that everything I'm facing is miniscule compared to what some of the youngters go through. It puts stuff into perspective and one word comes to mind--gratitude. I am so grateful for the opportunity to be living!! Life is too short and people (including myself at times) waste so much time worrying about or doing things that just don't matter in the long term. How great would the world be if people smiled at strangers or still offered to help little old ladies across the street? Anyway--I challenge any of my readers to not only read about these orphanages (and if you can help in some minute way great) but to do one random act of kindness today (who know's it may, heaven forbid, spread to others!!!)