Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Giving back...

Tuesday night is usually my TV with one of my favourites Prison Break. However... we had a 2 and a half hour session of American Idol (being a couple of weeks behind the actual events). So I’ll be watching my escapees tonight instead.

I was really touched to see what American Idol is planning to do to raise funds for orphans in Africa in the programme Idol gives back.

Those of you who know me, know that this kind of work is very close to my heart. I have a soft spot, a love, for the African children and for those who have become victims of their circumstances. It’s awesome that those who are in positions are able to use their celebrity status for good.

This is an old layout I did a couple of years ago (2004).
Sorry for the scanned quality. The journaling is on transparency with a watermark photo behind.

The page won the “Overall Excellence” layout at Creating Keepsakes University in Austin. It was through this layout that I got to meet many awesome scrapbookers. My good friends Kelli Collins and Amy Totty were there as was Joey Whittaker. I had an amazing time chatting to Stacy Julian about my experience too.

Journaling reads:
When we met Heidi Baker in August 2003, I knew in my heart that I had to visit Iris, the orphanage they spoke of in Mozambique. I wasn’t sure if Dave would feel the same and while cooking dinner, we had this short dialogue that would change our hearts forever:
Lara: “I want to spend Christmas at the orphanage”
Dave: “ok?”
Lara: “I’m being serious”
Dave: “That’s what scares me”

I made a decision that this Christmas had to be a time of real giving. I am used to living very comfortably! I am blessed with material possessions in abundance and buying Christmas gifts for one another would be superfluous.

Iris Ministries in Zimpeto Province, Mozambique provides the daily care of feeding and schooling for about 500 Mozambican children. These children are either orphaned or have been abandoned or severely abused – many of them are street children and/or HIV positive – and they cannot care for themselves. Iris’s operational needs are great, and they have a need for volunteer staff to help look after these children and the many more they will be receiving due to the AIDS and malaria problems in Mozambique.

Money that would have bought our gifts was instead spent on loads of sweets and treats for the orphans. We took much-needed mosquito nets and tennis balls, soccer balls, Frisbees, 500 ballpoint pens (the Mozambican children treasure a writing tool) and a pile of coloured cardstock and stickers.

After communication difficulties due to unreliable services at the orphanage, we were able to make our final plans just 3 weeks before our drive to Mozambique to spend Christmas with the children.

This wasn't the only problem we encountered along the way. Officials simply looking for a bribe gave us such a hard time at the border posts. They questioned us endlessly about the goods loaded in our car. Finally after over an hour we were let through. We laughed at how difficult it had been, all in the name of wanting to give.

We arrived at Iris Ministries gates and saw little children running to see who the new comers were. We descended into a sea of children, rubbing their noses against our car windows. This was just the beginning of the constant attention each child strived to attain from us.

That Christmas day of giving tangible gifts is incomparable to the love and appreciation we received from those little orphans. The children were so grateful for the piece of chicken, potato salad and rice, only one of 2 days out of the whole year that they eat meat. Our Christmas meal consisted of the same, eaten in the same way as the children – with our fingers!

I walked around the hall and did attempt to capture the hearts of the children through my lens. Some of the children posed innocently and smiled as I took their pictures. I knelt up close to this little boy, but he showed no emotion. Even as my camera clicked, his glaze remained pensive. There was no communication between us and I was frustrated that I could speak no Portuguese.

I am saddened looking at this photo- his eyes stare blankly, without emotion. The only light in his eyes came from my camera flash. I wonder still, what thoughts were on his mind. Where did he come from, what happened to his family, what did this child’s future hold?

I returned home being grateful for the fullness of my life. I am thankful for my good health. I know I will think twice before complaining about an empty wall needing a picture or the lack of a great big study desk for all my work. I know there is much more than material wealth and I am grateful for my family who love me and enrich my life.

My sole expectation of the visit to the orphanage was to give: little did I know that I would receive so much more...

Look into the eyes of a child...

I have had the opportunity to visit Iris on 2 more occasions since that Christmas and each one is as touching as the first.
It was this experience that led me to the involvement I have with Footprints and to the realisation of this year’s event Live, Scrap, P.L.A.Y. (Participate in the Lives of African Youth) too.

P.S. Thank you for all your well wishes and support regarding my new position at Time & About. I am so looking forward to this experience.

P.P.S. a great quote: "Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great." ~Mark Twain



Adrienne " A little dramatic at times" said...

Beautiful Journaling!

jacqui said...

Hi Lara

I've always admired your work. I am a scrapbooker from Pietermaritzburg here in South Africa. Congratulations on your new venture with the new magazine. I have been combing our scrapbook stores here and can't seem to find it. I hope it appears soon.
Thanks for sharing your awesome page.

Missy Page said...

Love this post Lara. I love this layout. I remember when it won, and although your scans are not bad, it does not show how incredible this layout is. Such fun times in Austin---I am so ready to do it again!

fi said...

RE:your Mark Twain qoute.

Well you have known your fair share of those "small people" haven't you? The funny thing is, when I look at you or listen to your ideas I always think "here there be giants"... Always walk tall chick, be the better person.

karin said...

that is what life is all about, doing what you were "called" to do! i firmly believe God created us with a purpose, and we are only truly happy once we surrender to His Will in our lives!
21 April, P O Box 3044, Tzaneen, 0850,
i need your details too

vicki said...

This post was a real tear jerker! I always feel guilty when I moan about silly things and think of those who have 'real' problems to moan about.Thank you for getting us involved in Footprints too!