Sometimes The Answer Is No

I like saying yes.
Perhaps that is because I am a pleaser at heart.
I also tend to root for the underdog in most situations.
I think that is why I am still a #mariners fan.

Today I have been hiking through the rural farming district of Tororo Uganda. My purpose here is to locate and assess potential water springs that my organization #planetchanger might protect in order to provide clean water for communities who have none.

My heart and soul long to say yes to every community I visit. As I hike down to the watering hole, women and children are scooping murky water and pouring it into a smattering of jerry-cans that lie around that they will then lug a great distance to their huts and homes.

When they see us arrive, their eyes light up with hope. Perhaps fewer babies will die, maybe fewer community members will get cholera or some of the sickness if we work with them to protect the spring and provide clean water.

I like saying yes.
But, sometimes, I have to say no.

Today, we were climbing down a bouldery hill into an area where people were collecting their water from a dirty spring, but that was all they had access to.

The hike was long and hot, the trail was small and awkward, and the spring site was really large. This would be a hard project for us to complete.

On the way to the spring, I passed by a series of graves. This one gave me a gut punch:

I “really” wanted to say yes to this project. No momma should have to lose a 1 one-year-old baby because of water sickness.

After the assessment was finished, it was clear that this water site would be too large for us to do. The cost would be huge, about 10 times the cost of a normal water project. The road needed to access the water spring was so bad that we could not get the bricks (hard-cores) and materials needed anywhere close to where they needed to be. When you operate on a small budget, sometimes you have to say no.

So, the answer to this one was no.

And that hurt my soul.

I paused as I walked back past the graves. Most of the people buried there we 36-42 years old. Also too young to die. I looked again at the grave of the one-year-old and said, “I’m sorry.”

I argue with God a lot in moments like this.

I wish I had been born into a family with millions, or, I figure God could at least throw me a PowerBall win so I could say yes to more projects that inspire hope and create healthy thriving communities. But I wasn’t, and the PowerBall hasn’t hit for me.

While visiting a potential water project site a young man named John Richard Omsungu said,

“You see our conditions in Africa. We are surviving on God’s nature (natural water supply). We need spring protection for clean water. Please, will you help us with getting clean water? 

While my NGO Planet Changer is small, and although we operate on a small budget, we have accomplished some amazing things that truly humble me.

Since 2011, we have protected approximately 50 springs in rural Uganda, bringing clean water to tens-of-thousands. Communities that are now healthier and have hope. Communities that have come together to help build their water system with our National staff creating sustainable solutions that they are proud of and helped create. That continues to inspire me.

So, I like to say yes.

Today I had to say no to some potential projects.

But, I also said yes to the next round of water systems that we will able to accomplish together with the people who will benefit from their creation.

Thank you for helping me say yes to as many opportunities as possible when you invest in what we do at www.planetchanger.org

Today I heard “thank you-thank you-thank you” from many men and women who we have partnered with to bring clean water to their communities. I tend to find myself saying the same words back to them back in these moments. “Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your life. We are all one no matter where we are from, and at Planet Changer we know that #waterislife.

Together we are Inspiriting hope!

The Power of Education

Poverty is an ever present evil all around the planet. You would think that by now we would have a handle on the great divide between those who have nothing and those who have an abundance, yet the truth remains that the chasm perpetuates.

Poverty is complex. There is not one single issue that needs to be addressed in order to reduce it. Rather there are cultural, global, spiritual, philosophical, economic, and even governmental issues (to name a few) involved in the global poverty crisis.

While it’s not -the- fix, education is perhaps one of the most important ways that we can wage a war on poverty.  When speaking of education I am including not only traditional educational systems, but also education on a moral, economic, spiritual and even technical and agrarian levels. As we invest in education,  there is a natural empowerment that happens. An empowered person knows how to find and utilize resources and create a new reality.

In a 2009 letter to G8 leaders, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Mary Robinson and Muhammad Yunus noted:

“Education is the key to unlocking inter-generational deprivation, as it offers the knowledge people need to live healthy, happy lives…By investing in education, the G8 can leverage huge returns in women’s and children’s health, nation- and peace-building, and global economic development now and in the future.”

Education is essential if we are going to eliminate poverty, empower individuals and communities, and create sustainable solutions to the challenges we face globally such as HIV/Aids, inequity, violence, and life degradation.

There is currently more than 67 million primary-aged children who are deprived of basic education around the world. On one of my trips into Uganda I noted that the majority of the children who did attend primary education would not reach the secondary level due to family financial needs.

This truly broke my heart as I remember asking the kids, “So, what do you want to do with your life?” and the answer was just like the answers I hear from US kids.  “I want to be the President if Uganda” said one girl. “I want to be a doctor” said a young boy. “I want to be a teacher” said another young student. How heart breaking to think most of those dreams will not find fruition because of the stranglehold poverty has on our worlds children.

Global statistics tell us that over 250 billion primary aged children will not move into secondary or high school education…over 796 million adults and youth are illiterate today. This designation absolutely limits their potential and their life choices which makes them highly vulnerable and destined to remain stuck in a poverty straitjacket.

It’s time to look at how we can take a bigger role in eliminating poverty. I would encourage you to check out my non-profit  Planet Changer by going to http://www.planetchanger.org and invest in the elimination of poverty as well as help us look at how we can address increasing global education through our efforts at Planet Changer!

To help you ruminate further, here are some great quotes about education….

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”  ~Mahatma Gandhi

“Educate a boy, and you educate an individual. Educate a girl, and you educate a community.
African proverb via Greg Mortensen”   ~ Greg Mortenson, Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace … One School at a Time

“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.”
~William Butler Yeats

“Do not train a child to learn by force or harshness; but direct them to it by what amuses their minds, so that you may be better able to discover with accuracy the peculiar bent of the genius of each.”   ~Plato

“A good head and good heart are always a formidable combination. But when you add to that a literate tongue or pen, then you have something very special.”   ~ Nelson Mandela

“Children must be taught how to think, not what to think.”   ~Margaret Mead

“The educated differ from the uneducated as much as the living differ from the dead.”  ~ Aristotle

“Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.”   ~ Aristotle

“Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today.”   ~ Malcolm X

“Prejudices, it is well known, are most difficult to eradicate from the heart whose soil has never been loosened or fertilised by education: they grow there, firm as weeds among stones.”   ~ Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre

“The best thing for being sad,” replied Merlin, beginning to puff and blow, “is to learn something. That’s the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the only thing for you. Look what a lot of things there are to learn.”   ~T.H. White, The Once and Future King

“Intelligence plus character-that is the goal of true education.”
~ Martin Luther King Jr.

“When you know better you do better.”   ~ Maya Angelou

“Whatever the cost of our libraries, the price is cheap compared to that of an ignorant nation.”   ~ Walter Cronkite

“He who opens a school door, closes a prison.”   ~Victor Hugo

“Children deprived of words become school dropouts; dropouts deprived of hope behave delinquently. Amateur censors blame delinquency on reading immoral books and magazines, when in fact, the inability to read anything is the basic trouble.”   ~ Peter S. Jennison

“A primary object should be the education of our youth in the science of government. In a republic, what species of knowledge can be equally important? And what duty more pressing than communicating it to those who are to be the future guardians of the liberties of the country?”   ~ George Washington

“Teach the ignorant as much as you can; society is culpable in not providing a free education for all and it must answer for the night which it produces. If the soul is left in darkness sins will be committed. The guilty one is not he who commits the sin, but he who causes the darkness.”  ~ Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

“Give a bowl of rice to a man and you will feed him for a day. Teach him how to grow his own rice and you will save his life.”   ~ Confucius

“Tell me and I’ll forget. Show me, and I may not remember. Involve me, and I’ll understand.”  ~Native American Saying

 

Sunday Night Quotes 3/11/2012

 

“Jesus didn’t have to topple Rome to change the world, he just needed to topple hearts.” ~ Monty C. Wright

“The task of leadership is not to put greatness into people, but to elicit it, for the greatness is there already.”   ~John Buchan

“The leaders who work most effectively, it seems to me, never say “I.” And that’s not because they have trained themselves not to say “I.” They don’t think “I.” They think “we”; they think “team.” They understand their job to be to make the team function. They accept responsibility and don’t sidestep it, but “we” gets the credit…. This is what creates trust, what enables you to get the task done.”    ~Peter Drucker

“War does not determine who is right – only who is left.”  ~Anon.

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”  ~Rumi

“Do you really want to be happy? You can begin by being appreciative of who you are and what you’ve got.”  ~Benjamin Hoff  The Tao of Pooh