I would have never guessed that Mothers Fighting For Others would have started by a simple Google Search on “Volunteer Africa” in 2006. I was just doing research, that’s it. Less than a year, and many, many shots later, I was to far off Kenya. I volunteered with Global Volunteer Network and was assigned with an all girls orphanage outside of Nairobi.
I am a different person. Let’s just say I will never be the same woman, let alone Mother again. This was the beginning of a path that I had no idea I was on. These girls that I met were strangers to me when I arrived. By the time I left, they were my daughters. I had fallen in love with each and every one of them those two weeks in October.
I realized I took the small stuff for granted. Something as simple as a pencil sharpener. I remember that first week helping Little Joyce with her homework and her pencil had broken. She pulled out a razor blade to sharpen it. I was in shock. I ran to my room and grabbed the bagful of little plastic pencil sharpeners that my friend donated, and passed them out to each and every one of them. There will be no need for razors anymore to sharpen pencils and no more cuts on their fingertips either. Something as simple as plastic pencil sharpeners made a huge difference.
What about a basic thing like deodorant? My dear friend Linda donated 40 sticks of deodorant and when I passed them out they had no idea how to use it. I realized, in that moment, surrounded by 8 teenage girls, that there was no Mom to do this for them. These are just two examples of how I see life differently now. I try everyday not to take things for granted and when I do, I have my girls in Kenya to bring me back down.
My hand was never empty.
I realized after one day all the girls wanted was to be loved. That was it. I was never alone. I was never without a child holding my hand or under my arm. That first trip was overwhelming. It was difficult to remember names and what grades they were in. Now, two years later, I know each and every one of them. I know how tough and feisty Ann is when she feels she’s been wronged and I know how my amazing Winnie puts up a front when she is sad and hurting. Winnie breaks my heart. But they are all survivors. Each and everyone of them are orphans. Some have been raped. Some have been on the streets. Some have experienced both. Now they are soaring to unbelievable heights!
What I want for them is simple. I want them to feel loved. I want them to feel safe and secure. I want them to go to school and grow up to be great women. What I want for them is what their Mothers would have wanted. That is it. It’s that simple.
I know it can happen. The girls at the orphanage changed my life and the people I have met along the way have made an amazing impact on my life. I have “met” so many people from around the globe who share the same passion as I who have taken this journey with me and are standing along side me. I use the word “met” because the internet is miraculous.. The internet has brought so many people to me. Not only have I met the girls at Saint Monica’s, but I now know past volunteers who have joined to help the girls too. They are not just internet friends, they are Board Members, they are truley part of the MFFO family now. Then there are our supporters. I am amazed how big the world is. And because of sites like Twitter and Facebook, I found and befriended people outside of my circle and the world became that much smaller. I am thankful for those in my town of Santa Clarita, CA and our team of dedicated women in Maryland. Because of these wonderful people, MFFO has been able to grow along with the growing needs of Saint Monica.
I am both excited and truly humbled. Now Africa is not far off place anymore. Little things like pencil sharpeners, backpacks and sticks of deodorant can make an impact. It’s the little things that can change lives. It’s the little things that make the difference. When we travel, hundreds of photos and hours of video will be taken so you get to know each and everyone of them. You can and will grow to love them as much as we do. Mothers Fighting For Others will bring the girls that you help right now into your hearts.
We can and will make this world a smaller place.