My heart is breaking today for the people of Haiti. We will only begin to understand the magnitude of the earthquake that hit this country yesterday and the lives that were lost, as today’s news unfolds. Haiti will need all the help that the global community can give. And I know that amidst this tragedy people will come forward and do what they can. People always do.
I was overwhelmed by the amount of responses I received when I sent out an email asking friends and colleagues if they knew anyone – an ordinary individual – who was doing something to make their community – our world a better place to live. I’ve started to read the dozens of replies that I have received and begun following up on the links that people have been sent. I thought that it would be fitting to write about some of the individuals and their efforts that I have been reading about.
Maggie Doyne, who traveled to Nepal and built a home for orphans using her babysitting money, told me about Letha Sandison, an American woman who moved to Uganda in 2007, where she saw firsthand the challenges faced by Ugandan cancer patients and feeling compelled to help, used personal funds to launch Wrap Up Africa. Wrap Up Africa’s “mission is to provide hope, empowerment and support to Ugandan families struggling with cancer”. Using the principles of collective gain and environmental protection, WUA “tailors build their skills and long term capacities through meaningful creative work”. The profits from their work are funneled back to support a variety of programs that not only help them and their children, but future cancer patients in Uganda.
A photographer friend of mine told me about another photojournalist, Felix Masi who is from Kenya. Felix is an internationally renowned photojournalist and humanitarian and founder and co-director of Voiceless Children. Their mission is “to restore hope to grandmothers, orphans and widows affected and infected by the AIDS pandemic in rural areas of Western Kenya and the Nairobi slums”. Orphaned himself at age 8, Felix hopes, through his images, to give a voice to the millions of orphaned children affected by this disease.
Another friend wrote to me about Brad Ludden, a professional kayaker from Wyoming. Brad founded a free outdoor adventure program for young adults with cancer, called First Descents. Since 2001 First Descents has been “committed to curing young adults of the emotional effects of cancer and empowering them regain control over their lives through white water kayaking and other adventure sports”.
These are just a few stories of amazing people out there who are doing extraordinary deeds. We are still open to any and all suggestions you all may have and will continue to keep you posted as this journey goes forward.