In her book, Thrive, Arianna Huffington tells the story of her daughter’s fifth birthday. They celebrated with mermaid cake, presents, balloons, and a party. That weekend, when both Arianna and her daughter were volunteering at Children of Mine, a center for children in need, another girl was celebrating her fifth birthday: With a chocolate chip cookie. It was her gift, her cake, and her party.
That night at home, Isabella, Arianna’s daughter, gathered her gifts and decided to give them to this little girl.
Every single day I am reminded about perspective. I’m reminded how small my problems are in light of what’s happening in the world. I am deeply worried for the kidnapped girls in Nigeria. I’m concerned about the deforestation in South America. The small children in Ethiopia are on my mind. Women in sex trafficking. There is no end to the things that give me pause to be grateful I’m worried about things like leaving my car charger at home or pushing the “Buy Now” button on Kayak at the right time to get the best airfare.
And I’d like to do something to reverse climate change, stop deforestation, and block the construction of mines but I also drive a car, read real books, and wear jewelry so I rely transportation of energy, wood products and metals. I also have bills to pay, appointments to keep, a business to run, a dog to walk, and it’s just not in me to dedicate my life to a cause. But I do care; and I want to make a difference. How to balance the conflict?
I’m not going to ask you to be my therapist. Don’t answer that question.
We have to start somewhere and throwing one’s arms up in apathy won’t do.
Amy Kumler said
“If you’re looking for a place to start, plant a tree. Only an optimist would do that.”
I’m not sure who Amy is but she’s quoted on the last page of Let My People Go Surfing.
If we each plant a tree, it adds up. And that’s why, as much as it pains me to walk by the homeless person asking for money, I’d rather do things that make difference rather than put a bandaid on a problem. I don’t know what happens when I give five bucks to the dude sitting on the sidewalk. I don’t know what happens when I text $10 to Red Cross.
I do know what happens when I lend $25 to a former Devadasi. Devadasi, meaning “servant of God” was once a status of high class but over the years, many of these women have been forced into prostitution . I’ve chosen to help Mahananda get on her feet and do something that will have lasting impact: Help her do something I took for granted I could do: Start my own business. And I’m hoping you’ll help as well. My campaign on Milaap.org is here and you can lend now.
In a Facebook chat yesterday, Catherine Rubin Kermorgant, author of Servants of the Goddess: The Modern-Day Devadasis said this when asked about her impressions after meeting them:
…once I met Devadasi women, I had no choice but to help bring forth their voices. They had hard lives, but they are so strong, so resilient, so full of Shakti – Shakti is divine feminine energy and strength — I have nothing but admiration and respect for devadasi women.
I learned a lot about resilience and how to hold your head high and rise above the shit that comes at you. They go through so much, and yet, for the most part they are healthy, loving, very connected and dedicated to their families. I think that they have very strong social networks, family and community networks… their myths and rituals play an important role too…. All these elements work together to buoy them up when they are in difficulty. I think psychologists who work with trauma victims would have a lot to learn from the devadasi women!
Don’t leave yet! This is the part where I need your help to help
I started my business because I was bored and didn’t want to spend another day doing something a boss told me to do whether I agreed with it or not. That’s a good reason for starting a business, but not as good Mahananda’s, a 34-year old Indian single mom who escaped the system and could use a miracle. By way of Milaap’s crowd funding for causes platform, I’ve created a campaign to provide that “miracle.”
My goal is to get 20 of you to lend (not donate) $25 – that’s a total of $500. The money gets repaid and you have the option of reinvesting it in someone new who could use our help.
It feels good to give. Go. Plant the first tree. Here’s the link: Please lend $25.
Update, June 16, 2014: Today Milaap celebrates 4 years of changing the way people give. Join the celebration- it’s a 24-hour digital takeover and you’re invited! http://goo.gl/IdoaUl They have given 8,000 loans and changed 50,000 lives. You can make that 50,001 right now. Please lend $25.