Two months ago, I told you about a lady in our neighbourhood whose vegetable cart was burnt to the ground one night by a group of teenagers (that’s it in the photo below). This was her entire livelihood up in flames with just one cruel act.
Well the response I received was amazing.
Immediately after sharing her story, offers of financial assistance, well wishes and prayers started flooding in from around the world, with several people offering to cover the cost of an entirely new cart for our friend by themselves! It was so overwhelming thatafter just one hour I had to quickly put up an update to tell you to “STOP GIVING MONEY!” (I know, I couldn’t believe it either!)
Well I took that money and I didn’t get back to you… until now that is.
Why did it take so long?
Because helping people is never as simple as just giving money.
With your patience and understanding, I took the time to better get to know this new friend of ours, listening to her story whilst seeking to better understand her situation (which turned out to be far more difficult and complex then we could have imagined with details I’ve deemed too sensitive to write here).
And along the way I met her youngest son, Ashish.
Ashish (which means ‘blessing’ in Nepali) is a young guy with incredible potential and a real entrepreneurial spirit. Like any seventeen-year-old, Ashish loves his flat-brim baseball cap, listening to music and checking in on his Facebook account at the internet cafe nearby.
As I got to know Ashish, bumping into him around the neighbourhood and stopping for a chat, he began to share with me his wish to go to college to study Commerce so that he can pursue a future in business and finance, something I have no doubt he is more than capable to do. However, having just finished Nepal’s equivalent of high school, Ashish’s final results and certificate of completion were being withheld from him because of the debt his family owed to the school (for reasons far beyond Ashish’s control).
I couldn’t think of any reason why Ashish’s promising future should be compromised when all he wanted was to work hard in order to stand on his own two feet someday.
So with the money you so generously gave, I went to Ashish’s school, together with Ashish and a mutual Nepali friend (it’s always better when these transactions are carried out by Nepali’s and not by ‘foreigners’ lest we just be seen as intervening ‘white saviours’ to the rest of the community), and we paid off his debt.
The timing was crucial. College was already two days into the first semester and the school had given Ashish a final ultimatum. But with the debt cleared, it was now up to Ashish to decide his own future.
Well the next day as I was on my way into town to run some errands, I ran into Ashish, smiling ear to ear, dressed in his crisp white new college uniform, clutching his school-leavers certificate, and on his way back from his first day at class (that’s when I snapped this photo).
None of this would have been possible without your help.
Helping others is not about giving them a ‘hand-out’ but rather coming alongside them and seeking to ensure that they have the resources they need and deserve to pursue all that they were made to be. Just as others in our lives have done for us and will hopefully continue to do in the future.
A friend of mine, Richmond Wandera, a former Compassion Sponsor Child who grew up in a slum in Kampala but then went on to become a graduate of an accounting degree with Honours from one of Africa’s leading Universities, and who now trains and equips other leaders throughout Africa to practice integrity, reject corruption and lead with strength, recently put it this way,
Potential is everywhere. Opportunity is not. Giving a child the opportunity to meet their potential is one of the greatest things that you can do.
So thank you.
As for Ashish’s mother and her business, we are still working with her and have connected her with a local organisation specialising in providing assistance to women in order to help her to make her next best step. And we have kept from the money that you donated, a small ‘seed fund’ to use in starting up her business when the time is right.
I look forward to sharing with you future needs that we come across here in Nepal and elsewhere throughout this world, with the hope that we can once again come together in unity and strength to alleviate the burden of poverty as we partner with more individuals to see them reach their full potential.