Sunday, February 22, 2009

What can I do?

When I tell people I am going to Africa to help individuals with disabilities, the usual response is good for you that is very noble of you to do. No, it is not noble, it is humbling and it is what we should all be doing. I do not think that I am, in any way, better than my peers who are not going on this trip because that is not the point. I am thankful for the opportunity to be a part of this trip and for the chance to encourage others to do whatever they can. We need to take the heroism out of helping others and realize it is something that we all should be doing whether it is at home or abroad. It is easy to think, "I'm going to make a huge difference" but I am not. It is impossible to make a huge, visible change in the two weeks that I will be in Ghana. But it is not about me personally making a change, it is about helping the country and people of Ghana to make the changes themselves. Therefore, the focus of our trip is not on what can we do immediately but what can we teach the people we meet that will be sustainable. Heroes are great but we need a wider approach that will be larger in scope until systematic changes happen. For example, it will be great if we can make several children with disabilities wheelchairs so they can play chase with their friends. But it is more helpful if when we are making these chairs, to teach the caregivers or other children how to make them as well. That way, if another child needs this type of modality in future, individuals will already know how to do it. The grassroots approach should be the emphasis of any type of foreign aid, one in which people are trained to care for each other. Our focus is equipping ourselves with the knowledge and strategies we need to pass on. So in conclusion, do not read my blog and think I am a hero, please read it and think "what could I do to help?"

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