Tuesday, January 31, 2012

{ Be the change...for my friend, Dra }

Dra, this one is for you :)

This is Dra. He's showing us his cool Karate moves with his red belt!
Dra with his Karate belts - he knows how to pull a move!
Sitting here thinking...
I am so incredibly blessed.
How do I even begin?
Tonight, with one of my new cool Malian friends, Dra, 
I mentioned that I love pictures. 
And he asked to see some of mine...
So, I pull out the iPhoto with 40,000+ pictures (I can't believe i just admitted that...on the www).
And we go through pictures of India, DC, New York, France, England...and so many other places. 
Mountains, snow, skiing pictures, sunset pictures, river rafting, boating, fields of tulips, monkeys, and so many other things that many others will never have the chance to think about, let alone experience. 
My dear friend, Dra, has never seen the mountains or snow.
He sat in awe as I showed him picture after picture...
And then there's me, I've pretty much seen it all. I am very fortunate.
He hasn't even tried pizza.
(Don't worry, I'll buy him one :))
What has our world become?

I will never know the life that billions of others experience each and everyday...waking up at 5 am to start breakfast on some hot coals...cleaning up...maybe going to the morning market to sell a few things...starting lunch and cooking for 2 hours...trying to portion things so everyone gets "enough" food...taking care of babies in between...and so on it continues everyday until nearly 11 pm. 

The Malian women are incredible...they often walk around with a baby strapped around on their backs with something on their head...this women (above) was walking around the market trying to sell some fruit...they are such hard-workers and incredible women.

I will never have to experience extreme poverty and hunger. I will never have to wonder how to pay for the next meal or sacrifice my food for my children. I will never be without a home. I will always have more than one pair of shoes to wear. I will always have a laptop, something that has become a modern-day "necessity." 

Why did I get to be so lucky? What about my friend, Dra? Or my sweet other mommy in India, Laxmi? Or the destitute widows begging on the streets in the holy cities of India? Why was I put where I am? 

Can I make a difference? 

"Young people often ask us how they can help address issues like sex trafficking or international poverty. Our first recommendation to them is to get out and see the world. If you can't do that, it's great to raise money and attention at home. But to tackle an issue effectively, you need to understand it-and it's impossible to understand an issue by simple reading about it. You need to see it firsthand, even live in its midst." -Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn

Well, slowly, but surely, I'm beginning to understand.
I'll never fully understand international poverty...I was not born and raised in the slums. I did not have to work, instead of go to school, to make enough money just to eat food for the day. No, I'm just a very blessed American-born woman, who wants to make a difference.
Sure, I've experienced some hardship. But after the things I have seen, 
it always seems so bleak in comparison. My troubles are always so trite. 

As we looked at pictures, he kept saying how incredibly different Mali is...and how it's such a dirty country. He then said to me "Do you think that if Yeah becomes President, he could really change my country?"
My heart went out to him and his people...
"Yes, I do...petite à petite."

Yeah will be the change-maker for these people and for my dear friend, Dra. He will bring education and opportunity to these people.

I love to travel...but honestly, I knew it was never about me. 
I want to be a change-maker...
I need to make a difference...
I want to change lives...
I want to empower others everywhere...
I want others to feel the same happiness and joy that I have experienced in my life.
Can I be the change? 

"Be the change you want to see in the world." 
-Mahatma Ghandi

Just maybe, I can become humble myself enough to be the change I want to be.
Dra, I'll be the change...if only for you and others like you.
You inspired me.


  1. Great to read details of your adventure! We are hoping for a Samake win and glad to have you giving it a big push. Here's hoping you have a great experience in Mali. It is such a unique place with daily adventures you will laugh about for years to come. Stay safe!

  2. Ahh this is a touching peace Alema. I understand the sentiments that surge through you. Sometimes we are the change the world needs if we only believe in ourselves. Continue to believe in yourself. I see great things in your future and many more countries and lives that will be touched by your smile and heart. Amazing post. Lovvvve it!