We lived in Kenya for two years. A poor country to be sure. I taught art in an international school and Scott worked with a Kenyan organization that did backpacking trips and team building. I struggled with the ministries that we were called to, because we weren't on the front lines. Sure, I taught the children of people who were in the slums, who were giving away free dental care, who were running medical clinics, who were creating sustainable water filters, but I wasn't doing it myself. Part of my own problem is my talents, I'm not a nurse or a dentist, I am artist and an art teacher. There have been many organizations that have gone into the slums and taught art and photography as a way to promote self-esteem among the children, give them something to do to show that they can 'do' something rather than get into trouble. As of yet I haven't been called to one of those ministries. Teaching at Rosslyn Academy i was able to support the families that were doing the work on the front lines, those that go into the slums of Nairobi. Those that provide food and shelter for orphans. Those that create and give away simple water filters providing fresh water for people who don't have access to safe water.
There were two slums that were imbedded within our neighborhood. Every morning and afternoon on my way to and from work in our nice Subaru I passed people walking to work, children going to school, and children that couldn't afford to go to school. These were the proverbial children with no shoes, shabby clothes, and sullen looks on their faces. I would stare straight ahead and try not to sink too far into guilt.
Maybe being an art teacher for a few years helped educate kids that will go back and fight poverty. Maybe I eased the minds of parents who wanted to help in Africa but also wanted quality education for their children. I did proved quality education for those children. Hopefully I stoked creativity, critical thinking, and artistic skill.
Now that I am back home I even less opportunity to fight poverty in Africa. I have mostly focused on ways to make my life less wasteful here in America. Knowing how many resources we use and how many other countries don't have access to has made me cut back and rethink many of my own choices. But what am I doing for that little girl that I passed day after that couldn't afford shoes or school fees? I don't know.
One thing I have discovered is a company called Toms Shoes. For every pair of shoes that you buy they donate a pair of shoes to a child in a developing nation. One for One. I love this, clothing is one of our last frontiers for poverty. Most of us are wearing sweat shop clothing right now. (Even though sweat shop jobs are often highly prized jobs because they still pay better than other jobs in that country.) It's hard to know what you are buying and make good decisions.
SO here's the website, look into it: www.toms.com
I think they're cute shoes, you just might too.