It is impossible to know when epiphanies happen, especially when trying to be detected from a third party. Likely, it was not even such an event. I truly think it was encapsulated within, a seed in a vault not given an opportunity to become something beautiful, a gift to the ecosystem, sacrificing itself for the nutrient of everything it could come in contact with. But for me, the flowering moment happened when we attended a Peace Corps sponsored event in Lusaka learning about Grass Roots Soccer (GRS), an interactive outreach program to teach youths about HIV/AIDS.
It oozes from every breath. Why, then, does it fade- inspiration?
I remember the feeling because it is incredibly evocative. Like the joy people feel when receiving a gift of kindness. It is, unfortunately, a seemingly diminishing exchange between two people; the receiver overwhelmed with gratitude, eyes lit up from excitement, laughs full of meaning- maybe mixed with emotions of love; the giver looking onward in anticipation, an idea delivered, a human emanating acceptance.
As sufferers living in anger, greed, and delusion, the tools to overcome exist. In this life, no matter our background, we can live peacefully. Through examining our self, the source of it all, we can learn to be patient, we can live happily, and as a community understanding this, we will live in harmony.
Kakubo village, located in Chongwe district outside Lusaka, Zambia, is a quaint place by U.S. Standards. Nestled close to the Great East Highway, actually bisected by it, the village echoes of trucks carrying un-identifiable covered loads, cars screeching to safe speeds in order to prevent being flung into the air by speed bumps stretching several kilometers- these deter ants more deflated from asphalt heated by the mid-day sun then crushed back into the Earth by the ceaseless traffic which plods over them. Such heat can only be avoided by covering in whatever shade is accessible or a rain shower that feeds the endless maize crops
I was recently invited to give a talk to a social entrepreneurship class at Northern Illinois University. The goal was to speak about my journey beginning with college up until now, just a few days before departing for Zambia. As budding social entrepreneurs, I hoped the students would relate to my story. That we do not always know where we are heading, but by finding and following our passion, we will have an impact during this life.
This video was recorded after the fact, but is similar to the talk given at NIU.
As a neophyte in the world of social entrepreneurship, volunteerism, and in general, giving, I have been looking at ways in which donating time, money or resources affects those it is truly intended to serve and help. Just because you are giving, in whatever form it may be, does not mean the outcome will substantially elicit positive change. Often times, the responses from generous gifts may provide a superficial change. For example, travelers are frequently looking for ways to 'give back' while on the road. Commitments to orphanages for a short period of time, although provide a monumental experience for the volunteer, do not positively inspire the children that the program is designed to help. In the short term, those in institutional care may be happy to have company, but the commitment of a long term mentor is what will positively change their life. If you have always had the love and support of your parents, try to imagine what it would be like with them. Would strangers coming into your life for a short amount of time positively or negatively impact you?
"We clean your garbage while you roam well-groomed. For the crime of cleaning, you named me scavenger. When you step into rain water, does that change your caste? We are stabbed at street corners. Our lives end in hard labor."
Oppression is present throughout the world. Its occurrence might be more openly admitted in the developing world- extreme poverty, destitution, lack of resources, high prevalence of disease and premature death, but human struggle in the worst forms takes place in every crevice of our lives. Apply a little effort and you will uncover someone being exploited for sex, forced to work in horrid conditions for little or no pay, or coerced into something that turns out to be anything but the anticipated, placing them in unimaginable positions.