Friday, February 4, 2005
A message to our town
Tsunami, Tsunami! The words have a lyrical sound, as if waiting to be set to music in some popular song, until they are understood as synonymous with the words, "tidal wave." Prior to the events of one month ago in a number of the Indian Ocean nations, many of us did not understand the significance of the word. Now we do. This horrific tsunami has reminded us of much suffering in this world. It has, along with other troubling world events, opened our eyes to the fact that there are many people with many sufferings between the graph marks. Because of this, I again encourage myself, our loved ones and all of us to continue to think of ourselves with immeasurable individual means to do something, or to do something more than we are doing to help with the problem of human suffering — not just abroad, obviously. I realize that the giving of any resource is often precluded by an attitude shift concerning who we are and who others are.
It was in a small boat on the Ganges River in India when a dead baby floated by that our son Jonathan's attitude was shifted. It was while working in Rwanda with widows of the genocide that our younger son Peter was "stamped" for life. This tsunami has stamped us all (I hope). We've heard of countless opportunities to assist.
Help for a lifetime
I'd like to pass on one more thought for your consideration that has to do with rebuilding, not just structures alone, but lives and livelihoods. You've heard the proverb that to give a man a fish is to help for a day, but to teach a man to fish is to help for a lifetime; a valuable proverb that challenges us to think longer-term. However, in Sri Lanka, one of the hardest hit areas, the problem is not that individuals don't know how to fish. The problem is that boats, nets, inventory and workers were instantaneously washed away and individuals are left with literally nothing to get back on their own feet.
Then there is micro-financing. Micro-finance, the process of giving small loans to assist families get back on their feet, focuses less on "teaching individuals how to fish" and more on equipping them with the tools they need to get back to their fishing. When the press is gone, the immediate crisis passes, and the relief agencies move on to another crisis, there is ongoing help and hope. The statistics are encouraging with micro-finance work accomplished through HOPE International. 100% of monies given go directly to the need (supporting staff salaries are funded by the organization's founder) and 99% of the 20,000 loans the organization has issued have been repaid, allowing the funds to assist other needy families. HOPE International is presently doing significant work with tsunami victims in Sri Lanka, which will be ongoing in helping people to get back on their feet and stand firmly on them. I gladly admit a family tie to HOPE International in that our son, Peter, is in a responsible position with them, but that is only all the more reason why I am writing this to our town "family." Please check out their web site at www.hopeinternational.org.
© 2005 The Carlisle Mosquito