We get inspired! If we are actively engaged in the world around us we realize that there are too many problems to solve, people to help, and animals who need rescuing. It can be overwhelming and oftentimes lead to inaction. When we don't know where to start, sometimes we don't start at all. Unless we are inspired. Inspiration can come from anywhere - a blog, a person on the street, the President of the United States, an animal's eyes, a child's face. We can be inspired to change bad things that are happening (I started this blog because of the current POTUS) or to make good things happen (we just rescued a dog that has added so much happiness to our lives). In both cases I was inspired to take action and in the process, we got this little guy off the streets. :) This is three-year-old Finn, happily snuggled in our bed. I'm pretty sure you will see him again sometime.
Maddie's inspiration came a little farther away from home, in Africa. Maddie is fifteen years old and living in California. When her parents told her they were taking a trip to Africa she was a little bit less than thrilled. But what she experienced in Africa not only changed the way she looked at her own life, but inspired her to move from realization to action.
Their trip began with a volunteer mission. The many difficulties of Tanzanian life were obvious to Maddie, her mom, and her brother from the start. Entire families live in small huts that are pitch black for a full twelve hours of the day and the children must stay inside at night to avoid the hungry predators of Africa as best they can. Children carry their own water to school in large buckets because there is no running water. A breakfast of only tea is meant to last a child through her entire day at school, if she is lucky enough to attend.* Each of these struggles touched Maddie's heart and for the first time, she thoroughly appreciated her own quality of life near Silicon Valley.
But her inspiration came from two adult women whose names she can't recall. They were born in the area, vigorously pursued their own educations, and created a leadership program for girls. Maddie was inspired by the stories from the two women who visited schools in Africa and purposefully changed the lives of girls and their communities. She witnessed firsthand that it doesn't matter where you come from, everyone has the power to make a difference. Though she can't recall their names, the impression they left on her will last forever.
Maddie learned that in many parts of Northern Africa girls are marginalized, often resulting in abuse and neglect. With that realization and the inspiration from the two local women, she chose to take action on "House of Hope," a project that aspires to offer a future for female victims of physical abuse in Shantytown, Moshi, in the Kilimanjaro Region of Tanzania. Nearly one in three girls in Tanzania have experienced sexual violence before their eighteenth birthday. For girls who are fortunate enough to escape the violence, "House of Hope" will offer not only a home, but a place to thrive. Maddie says that the "project plans to provide computer skills classes and various art courses that the girls can take on the grounds of the house, and to have a greenhouse where the girls can learn agricultural skills." The house is currently scheduled to open in the summer of 2018.
Maddie has a gofundme page to aid in the building of the home. You may find that page, along with more details of her story, here:
What was Maddie's biggest take-a-way from her time in Tanzania? She says, "You don't just have to feel sorry for the people living in poverty there. You can go out and make an active change." She feels passionate about the importance of her involvement in the House of Hope project. That is what it takes. Maddie realized the plight of girls in Northern Africa and that meant something to her, so she was inspired and impassioned to do something about it, and she took action. Realization. Inspiration. Action.
Maddie plans to volunteer at the House of Hope to aid in whatever way she can when it is complete. But in the meantime, she will be returning this summer (she will be all of sixteen by then) to volunteer in a nearby public school, teaching English and art for three weeks. In addition she will be an intern at Last Mile, a social enterprise that trains women to sell life changing products including reusable sanitary napkins (AFRIpads), life-saving nutritional supplements, and solar products. Sounds like a very productive three weeks!
As individuals we can't do everything to solve the multitude of problems in the world. But if you find inspiration, one or two things that really speak to you, and focus on those, you can affect some real change, like the BOLD women in Tanzania and Maddie. It doesn't matter what you are inspired to do to make a difference, there is plenty to go around. The arts, public policy, education, the environment, homelessness, hungry children, abused animals, female inequality, the list is long (and grows longer everyday) and every single bit of it matters. Inspiration is everywhere, we just need to make sure we are listening when it speaks to us. Inspiration results in action, so....
Thank you for reading!
A special thank you to Maddie for turning her inspiration into action and for allowing me to share her BOLD girl story. If you know a girl or woman who is doing something bold, please submit contact information and tell me what she is up to by going back to the previous page and clicking on "submit a story" or by sending an email to email@example.com.
*You may find more information about Maddie's original volunteer mission at http://lalafofofo.org. Maddie is also on the JEC, Junior Executive Committee, of Lalafofofo. It is a great organization that focuses on small, relatively-low cost, but desperately needed, projects in Tanzania (some of which directly address the issues stated above regarding lack of light, water, and food). Acco