peace, gratitude and ubuntu

Meet Melanie.
Melanie and I on my wedding day
Melanie is one of my closest girlfriends. She's filled with lots of love and laughter to offer others. She usually has me hysterically laughing, although sometimes, she inspires me to tears. I've known Melanie since 1999 when I first transferred to CSULB. We were instant friends and have been close ever since. Melanie not only reminds me to be thankful for all my blessings, but she also reminds me to "think globally".

Over the last few years, Melanie has traveled to Africa to go on safari (at least 3 times). To say she's become obsessed with the land, wildlife and the African culture is putting it mildly. Africa to Melanie is, "the land that leaves one bubbling over with heartfelt gratitude for being alive!"

Melanie is about to depart for her next Africa adventure in November. This time however, she will also visit an orphanage in Soweto, a large "city" outside of Johannesburg. She recently sent an email to her family and friends requesting some help. She writes:

Dear friends,

Here we go again, another trek to AFRICA - "the land that leaves one bubbling over with heartfelt gratitude for being alive!" In my short time there, this special continent has captivated and changed me. The land, animals and people have taught me one of life's great lessons, that we are all connected and have a great impact on each other.

In Africa, there is a social and spiritual philosophy called Ubuntu that serves as a framework for society. It is difficult to translate into Western language, but it speaks to the very essence of being human. One with Ubuntu respects all people and is concerned with the well being of others because he or she knows that they belong to a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or treated without dignity.

In the spirit of Ubuntu, we will be visiting an orphanage in Soweto and bringing the children items to make their lives a little better. We hope that they will hold their heads higher knowing that they are valued and loved.

As a result of lack of education and poverty due to Apartheid along with little or no access to healthcare, the large township of Soweto outside of Johannesburg, South Africa has a staggering HIV/AIDS rate. The disease has literally killed hundreds of thousands of parents making orphans of a whole generation of children, jeopardizing their health, their rights and their survival.

We need your help! We have asked the orphanage what they need most and were told:

• Linens - Bedding & Curtains
• Jerseys
• Shoes
• Cutlery - Plates / Cups / Tumblers / Spoons
• Computers
• Children’s books (ages 3 to 18yrs)

If you'd like to join us in helping, here are three things you can do:

• Donate any of the above items and we will take them with us.
• Get your friends and family involved - forward this e-mail to those who might be able to help or have contacts with big businesses who could donate items.
• Stick a few bucks in an envelope and send it our way. We will buy supplies in bulk.

Please remember the fond memories that you have from your childhood and do something special to help these children. We all want to feel that we have made a difference in our lifetime. Here is an opportunity to do so in a way that may seem small to you, but will have a big impact on kids who have been denied a basic childhood.

Get active!!

Peace, gratitude and Ubuntu,

Brad Pitt and the General of the Salvation Army recently visited this orphanage.

Here are some photographs captured from Melanie's previous safari trips...they're incredible!

I thought I would reach out to my blogging friends to share Melanie's upcoming journey. While most of us have never met, one thing I think we all have in common is helping out our girlfriends. If you have it in your heart to help, please send me an email and we work out the logistics (misspalmerskids at hotmail dot com).

Thank you for reading!


R said...

The world needs more Melanies.

Jolene said...

This inspired me to tears too. Just like it did the first you sent it to me. She's amazing. I'm only sorry I don't keep in touch with her nearly as often as I should. I told you...count me in for a donation. I will give it to you when I see you next. So great of you to post this. :)

Kay said...

her pics of africa are amazing. it takes an incredibly dedicated and loving person to do what she does, i know most people, myself included are always wanting to help but there is something inside that does not give us that extra push to do so on that major school. i guess we can all start small. i'll look around my house for anything on that list that i can donate =)

Kay said...

instead of school, i meant scale...don't know how that happened =)