Taking comfort in small things that make a difference

In a week consumed by tragedy and despair, we hang on to every scrap of hope. Stories of heroic efforts, a community coming together in shared loss, a congresswoman who was shot point blank in the front of the head now breathing on her own.

We want to believe, in the midst of our shock and confusion, that something meaningful will come of this. That people who promote extreme attitudes, rhetoric and divisiveness will reconsider what they say. That the rest of us will stop rewarding them with our time, our attention and our ratings.

It makes me wonder why we have allowed ourselves to become so fascinated by ugliness and negativity. When did we become so addicted to gossip, criticism and extremism? Are our own lives so boring, so unrewarding, so lacking in creative challenges that we must find relief in the false sense of security that comes with arrogance and superiority? Do we really believe it’s better to fight each other than it is to collaborate? Are we really more comfortable blaming others for our problems instead of digging deep inside ourselves to correct them?

I got news this week of progress that is taking place in the village of Soddo, Ethiopia, which I visited last summer with adoptive parents Brian and Keri deGuzman. The emails provided much-needed perspective in this week of disbelief and pain.

The nursery at the new orphanage facility in Soddo.

The children at the orphanage I visited have successfully been relocated to a new, albeit temporary, home. (The original orphanage lost its lease this month, when its landlord decided there was more money to be had converting his property to a bed-and-breakfast.) The new facility is smaller but adequate and the staff has been working hard to help 30 small children adjust to their new surroundings. Orphanage Director Stephne Bowers and her staff are filled with hope. The new location is within view of the entrance to a property that will soon be developed into a permanent home for these, and future, abandoned children.

Building self-sufficiency, one chicken at a time.

There was also word of a new project created to help impoverished members of the local community reclaim self-sufficiency. Children’s Cross Connection, a non-governmental organization working in collaboration with the Ethiopian government’s Department of Women, Child & Youth Affairs, gave each of seven widows eight chickens, which they will raise and breed to create small businesses of their own.

A community social worker will visit the women to offer guidance and observe the chickens’ health and care. In a month or two, each of the women will “pay” for their business by returning a healthy adult chicken back to CCC so the project can continue to help other women.

We can’t prevent ugliness in the world, but we can control how much of it we allow to enter our lives. I am not listening to radio commentators this week. I am looking at pictures that show me how powerful some tiny, hopeful steps in the right direction can be.

Photos courtesy of Stephne Bowers.

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