Saturday, December 13, 2008

The spirit of giving

I received the following email from a friend recently who felt moved to support the non-profit organization, Okala Foundation, which is run by a group of mutual acquaintances. If you would like to make a large difference in someone's life, I would happily encourage you to support Okala Foundation. It is run by reputable, dedicated people who truly care about the plight of the needy in this world and strive to give them tools to support themselves. It takes surprising little to affect a huge change.

Hi Everyone,

This is a photograph of a small group of children in Cameroon, Africa. There are two villages that Okala currently supports, Meyenne, and Ngombe. The children of Ngombe village now attend a new school that was built through funding from Okala Foundation, a non-profit organization put together by a group of women on Facebook, and through sponsorships of $85/year for one child which provides them with a year of schooling, supplies and one meal a day.

Many are orphaned by their parents who either died or are dying from Aids, and many of the children carry the same fate. For most, that one meal is the only one they will have that day given they have no food and no clean running water in the villages where they live.

One day I decided to go through my boxes of things that were in storage and I came across 2 that were filled with stuffed toys and about 80 of my most precious Beanie Babies that I had collected many years ago. My first thought was to list them on ebay, considering the amount of money that went into building my collection.
After I decided to sponsor one of the children I heard that the founder of Okala Foundation was going to Africa to visit them in November. I thought about those beanie babies, and my plans to list them on ebay changed. As I carefully placed each one in the large box I would be sending to Montreal to the Okala founder, Tamara Davy for her trip to Africa, I envisioned the look on the children’s faces as Tamara opened the box and told them they were for them.

In this photograph, the children are holding their very own beanie baby or stuffed animal that they got to choose. I put aside 2 of my favourite beanies along with a card especially for my sponsored child, Therese and I hope to have a photo soon with her holding them.

I am not sending this because I want or need a pat on the back. I wanted to share something with you that has made me very happy. I have realized how much of a difference just one person can make with one small act. If I ever had any doubts that even I can have that kind of an impact, I no longer do.

No amount of money could have brought more satisfaction than knowing that a small group of children will go to sleep at night clutching a little toy that may bring them some comfort and HOPE for a life without the pain and suffering they have lived through and continue to endure…

Gina xo

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