This week I travelled to Toronto to sit on the board of Helping Hands Uganda, a child sponsorship organization created by a friend of mine, Erin. The group operates primarily in Eastern Uganda, and specializes in helping the most at risk children and their families. Aside from the traditional model of paying for a child's school supplies, medical needs, and food, the group is also involved in some innovative experiments to make families self-sufficient, including a "goat program" where livestock is purchased for a family and they are taught to raise, care for, and derive ongoing revenue from the livestock.
I've been helping them out and sponsoring some of the children since last summer. The organization was officially registered a few months ago and already has 17 children under sponsorship. With various fundraisers planned for this year we expect to rapidly increase that number.
You can help us! Sponsor a child, today!
One Sunday a few weeks back I woke with a beautiful little idea. I would buy a bunch of flowerswhen I was at the farmer's market, and drive around the city of Los Angeles handing them out to those who seemed to be in need of a kind gesture; those whose smiles had fallen under the weight of an often unkinding world. (I'd discovered the wonders a stranger-proferred flower years before while in Argentina.) And so I set off on my Sunday quest. Ah, my selective naivety... if I didn't think this trait so god damn vital to being some kind of noble true, I'd have rid myself of it long ago... Because not unexpectedly, though most regrettably, people tend to view a stranger offering you a flower with suspicion; they assume hidden agendas. Too seldom are nice things done simply because they are nice things to do; at least out there in the world (as opposed to within the relative safety of churches, families, groups of all sorts). And so most of the flowers I gave required too much explanation, and the easy joy of the giving was lost in the complex work of their receiving.
I came up with various strategies and explanations to eliminate their suspicion, but the beauty was to be found in the naked truth, not the palatable lie. (An example of one white lie I used with easy success was that the flower was a promotion for a local florist. Suddenly the gift made sense; and they would readily accept.) I still think that perhaps with more practice, with a better understanding of people, perhaps I could craft the truth just so, smile just so, speak just so, and they might forget to be suspicious. But, that may be wishful thinking...
A few days after the ride I put the last remaining flower in the bunch inside a small water bottle, with some water, and FedExed it (with some other offerings), to a girl I hoped to know better. See my HelpMeGetTheGirl post elsewhere on the site. She responded gratefully, and genuinely, but we never managed a connection.
This ride began a little practice which I try and keep. Often when I'm headed out on a motorcycle ride I will pick a flower from the trellis outside my front gate and attach it to my instrument cluster (using an alligator clip I installed for this purpose). And that way if I do see someone in need, someone who seems like they will be receptive to an anonymous and kind gesture, I'll have one at the ready.
(Date on this post not the correct one, I am too lazy just now to find the real date when all this occurred.)