The more I stay involved with organizations that exist to serve others, the more I realize the wisdom we’ve all heard throughout our lives about the benefits of doing so.
I have a dear friend who, every week, serves at a church soup kitchen to feed the homeless. I know many men who offer their time to help those who struggle with addiction. Then this last week, we shared the updates of our school in Tanzania (which I’ll get to below) in our Change it Forward Tanzania Newsletter, while I offered on Facebook the updates of another moving charity I encountered in East Africa (also introduced below). Heck, I got so into the sharing spirit this last week, that I even offered my experience at a gym I attend to help promote the good work they do.
I realized the lightness about myself when engaged in these actions. I took the spotlight off of myself, put it on others for their benefit, and simply felt good.
We naturally consider the sake of others when helping others. But giving with an open heart reaps rewards for oneself well beyond the time or dollar amount you can contribute.
Charity expands one’s world. You connect with others: an organization, a cause, perhaps a whole other part of the world. You go about your day conscious of this thread sewn between you and those who you support.
With that, and if you’re interested, here are two great charities I was introduced to when I was in East Africa. Both are effectively improving the lives of young people in their respective regions and both are in need of support.
LAST FEBRUARY, I wrote about the slums of Uganda’s capital, Kampala. A few months earlier, I had had the chance to take a tour of Kampala’s largest slum, Bwaise, and yes, it was probably similar to how you imagine it. Lumpy, dirt paths strewn with litter knifing between wooden shacks and shoddy, mud-brick homes.
Life looked pretty bleak in this neighborhood.
Adults went about their lives straight-faced. The kids offered a mixture of emotions–sadness to laughter.
Children are who the proceeds of my slum tour went to help. The two men who operate Volunteers for Sustainable Development – VFSD Africa put my money directly into the school or orphanage they operate.
After speaking with these guys, I wished they had a way to receive money from abroad.
Now they do.
American Anita Gray, another individual moved by her tour through Bwaise, has taken the initiative to start VFSD-USA. Thanks to her efforts, anyone can now give via paypal to help the Bwaise children identified by VFSD as living most at risk.
To direct your funds to sponsor a specific child, go to this site.
Before traveling to Uganda, I had spent most of 2014 at Magulilwa Area Secondary School in central Tanzania.
Here, we’d crank on the generator each night for three hours, and I’d teach these adolescents learned how to turn on a computer, how to type, and eventually, how computers can be used to connect with others.
Secondary school in Tanzania (roughly the equivalent to US school grades 7-10) remains a rare luxury. Most students end their formal education at 11 years old. This fact inspired Evaristo Sanga, native of Magulilwa village, to do something.
Able to come to the US for college from the sponsorship of a Lutheran missionary, Evaristo graduated with a degree in computer science and now works as a software engineer. He started Change it Forward Tanzania (CIFT) in Minneapolis to raise money for a secondary school back in his village.
Eight years later, over 200 students currently attend Magulilwa school, and it operates largely on the donations from people in the US. If you’d like to be one of these people or just to learn more, visit this website.
And if you have any questions or want to talk about the school in Tanzania or the slums of Uganda, I’m always eager to chat. I can think of few things more worthy of conversation than how to offer children a chance at a good life.
I hope everyone reading this has a chance to experience the glow and growth of giving.