Friday, March 24, 2006

How much do I owe? Part II




The long awaited PART TWO....

At the end of part one I was pondering the question "how much do I owe?" I decided that it was time for me to be proactive about my feelings. I was directed to the charity called Stay Alive by my father (who helps them out). Boy howdy did they need help and I jumped right in. I even recruited a fellow blogger. I found out that at that exact time I was pondering what to do with myself, they had been praying (literally) for someone to magically appear who had the skill, or at least desire and willingness, to help them start fundraising in ernest. I can do that. I will be writing grants, soliciting funds from rich people and encouraging business to become a part of this program. Good times. I got lots of practice begging people for money as a teenager and all those years of waitressing. I knew it would come in handy (now if I can just make that useless History degree work for me).

A little bit more info on the Stay Alive program. We focus on children aged 8-10. That makes it unique. The other unique thing about Stay Alive is that we don't say "use a condom when you have sex" but we say "DON'T HAVE SEX". We actually explain how the immune system works, teach the children to possibilities that are out there and how great their life can be if they stay alive long enough. Many of these kids have lost either parents or family members to disease. They get it. They just don't know how to make things different. The program has a workbook that the students take home to their families who are required to do exercises with them and have discussion questions. The parents play a huge role in this program. In many cases the "parent" is the oldest living child. Some are only 12 or 13. This can help us understand why there are so many misconceptions out there. In the poor and/or rural parts of Africa surprisingly little is understood about the disease that is killing so many of them. There are still many misconceptions about how it is contracted and misconceptions about how it can be cured (that it CAN be cured is the biggest one). Parents who haven't been taught cannot teach their children. Children who are empowered with the right information at a time in their life when they aren't sexually active are able to make better choices. Studies have been done and statistics have been gathered. It is working. It is working as good as, or better then, any other HIV prevention program out there. Knowlege is power. We have all heard that, right? So very, very true. As a matter of fact, the results have been so good and Stay Alive is able to do this for such a small amount of money, governments are asking for us to bring the program to their country ASAP. All that is holding us back is the funding. We are working on getting UN funding and grants from our government, but politics are a long and complicated process. It will take years. These children don't have years. So, we fundraise.

I will be going to Africa in June to do some administration work. I will be involved in teaching new schools/health officials the program. We have a big convention planned in Nairobi. We will also be going to rural Kenya where the program has been the longest and taking some statistics (and pictures...I am also the unofficial photographer), then it is off to Mozambique where were will meet with the charity that helps us implement the program on the ground there. More training, more statistics gathering, more pictures. A few side trips to Uganda and Swaziland to meet w/ education officials to get the program started there. There is a lot to do in just a few weeks.

I am very excited and very scared. It is scary to spend time and money doing something new. It is scary to think about getting on a small plane in Africa (I HATE flying...). It is scary to decide to open my life and my emotions to an area of the world that has more sad stories then happy ones. I am afraid of shots and have to get about 8 million of them to go. It is scary meet and get to know and love people who will die, soon. I am terrified that I will come out of this with more more damage to my heart and soul then I have going into it. Mostly I am afraid that what I have to offer won't be right or won't be enough. One tiny drop in the bucket of such enormous need. Is there a point? Before I pull out the story about the kid walking along the beach throwing starfish back into the water (email me if you haven't heard this delightful Mormon talk filler......ahhh, Mormon urban legends) but it has a certain point. It makes a difference to someone. If nothing else, it makes a difference to me and to my kids to be a part of something bigger then ourselves. It is still scary.

P.S. As part of my fundraising effort, I sent the following letter to everyone I know. Take a read and see if you can think of anyone that might want to help out. I have enough appointments right now to reach half of my fundraising goal. That is very exciting.

12 comments:

compulsive writer said...

Bek, you are a beautiful person. Thanks for bringing to us an awareness of the plight of these beautiful children. I will do what I can to help and I sincerely wish you well.

And you are much, much more than a mere drop in the bucket.

God bless you and yours.

Julie said...

I am so excited for your trip. And also, dare I say, jealous.

Dave said...

My friend Steph pointed me to your site, and it sounds like great work. I met briefly with some people doing work like this in Kenya. (I do research with educational challenges faced by orphans in Kenya and elsewhere.)

I would be very interested to see more about the studies done and the statistics gathered. While I have seen some rigorous research on some "safe sex" programs, I have seen little on abstinence programs, and rigorous work indicating positive effects would be very valuable in selling the cause.

Rock,
D

Dave said...

If you do post such research (or the source thereof), feel free to drop me a line.

compulsive writer said...

Oh and bek--please take lots of photos while you are gone. I think a photo essay of your journey will continue to tell the story and bring more people to an awareness of what needs to be done to help.

Bek said...

I am...in fact, I am the offical unoffical photographer of Stay Alive! :-) I am reading books about photography right now. It will give me something to do during the 30 hours of flying time. ;-)

~j. said...

How long will you be gone? I, too, am jealous. I can't express how much I admire you for doing all of this. Really, it's extraordinary.

Bek said...

Just for few weeks. It isn't really that extrodinary...I feel very blessed to be at a point in my life that I can take the time (thank you mom) and find the money to help. The stars just alligned for me...if we had a baby here right now..that wouldn't be happening.....lemons into lemonade I guess...

Tracy M said...

Wow, Bek. Incredible. I am inspired and impressed with your willingness to DO something. I think we all want to, sometimes, or wish we could, but you are ACTUALLY getting up and DOING it. Serious kudos to you.

While I cannot take advantage of your photographic skills- we won't be down until you get back, may I send you a donation anyway? Let me know...

Bek said...

I am happy to take any and all donations..but not from ladies w/ new babies coming soon.

BUT, I will be happy to do photos anytime. I have lots of appointments for after the trip. I think I will finish off paying for the trip with my Christmas work (and I hope to sell some of my photos to a stock photo place...).

I have SO MANY CLOTHES for you...it better be a girl...

I think that if I did DO something, I might go crazy. I spent the last year working so hard to make a difference and make a positive impression and that time seems like it was all wasted....this year (as long as I have no baby) I wanted to apply my time and energy to something that I know will be needed and appreciated.

La Yen said...

I heart Bek.
Where is my list, task-masteress?

Tablogger said...

Bek, I thought of your post when I watched Bishop Burton's address in the Saturday morning session of General Conference. It is inspiring to see your drive and enthusiasm to do more and it is definitely having an effect on more people than you know (Mosiah 2:17).