We don’t know who we help

When you are good at something, its easy to take it for granted. It’s easy because we’ve been taught that only the things we work hard at deserve any acknowledgement.

The things we do easily – that come almost naturally to us – happen to be the things we tell ourselves are not a big deal.

For me, writing is one of those things. It’s easy to do and it’s enjoyable and it comes almost effortlessly. I get embarrassed when I receive praise for it because I feel like a fraud.

In fact in my more self-deprecating moments, I tell myself that anyone can do what I do because… well… what I do is easy.

So easy in fact that if I stopped doing it, it wouldn’t be such a loss to anyone because it’s not like I was doing anything special. I was just writing about stuff. Anyone can do that, right?

Well, I am discovering (rather belatedly) that I do have a talent and that writing is that talent and that it is a big deal regardless of the ease with which it comes to me.

A while ago, I was going through a really rough patch and one of the things I wanted to do was quit writing and blogging. I figured no one would miss it anyway.

I didn’t think it would make any difference. I didn’t think it would register with anyone. Who would really notice or care about the absence of a column in a weekly or the staleness of an un-updated blog… or the silence of an authorial voice?

One of the reasons why the decision to quit writing and blogging seemed so simple was that I didn’t really feel like what I did was that important, or that it really mattered or made a difference to anyone.

If I stopped writing, I wouldn’t be hurting anyone because (after all) it wasn’t like my writing was actually helping anyone.

But the truth is when you are good at something you have a duty to do it to the best of your ability. We never know who we’re helping when we just choose to be the best version of ourselves we can be – and being the best often starts with making the most of our God-given talents.

In subtle ways, you make a difference. Even when you’re not aware of who you’re helping or whose life you’re impacting.

Be the best you can be. You owe the world that much and you owe yourself no less.

This picture is of me 10 years ago… I have always loved the blankness of a page – what have you always loved?

Shipping hope to Africa

Today I saw a grown woman cry. I watched her fight the tears and I watched her lose the fight. I watched her battle to contain her emotions and I watched her fail.

I watched as a tide of feelings overwhelmed her and all she could do was cry. And all I could do was watch.

She leaned against a 40-foot container; ignoring the snow, the cold and the people who had spent the greater part of the day loading boxes into the container – her volunteers.

Teresa Dangwa...crying for joy and praying that 'hope' is not only shipped to Africa but that it actually gets there

Somewhere, someday…soon, within the next three months – the contents of that container will find their way into the eager hands of children in Zimbabwe’s obscure town of Chivhu sent by one woman from the State of New York, in the city of Albany in the United States of America.

The crying woman is known as Teresa Dangwa; I do not know her age and until 72 hours ago; I had never heard of her.

I know she grew up in Tshabalala and which explains her flawless Ndebele; I know she comes from Chivhu and that although she has traveled thousands of miles from her home town – her heart never left.

I know that she is a rare breed of Zimbabwe’s emerging philanthropic women – with the desire and commitment to sow back into the land where her roots are imbedded and today she sent a 40-foot container of books, hospital beds, toys, clothes, cutlery, bedding and furniture to Africa, to Zimbabwe and to a community of children in Chivhu.

Over a thousand boxes, over a dozen pair of hands that worked over a period of 6 hours in the ice, cold and snow to pack boxes to Africa; but they packed something more than boxes – Teresa shipped hope to Africa.

..the volunteers, the 40-foot container and Teresa (extreme right in khaki jacket)

Through her organization, Dangwa Initiative – Teresa is one more life sacrificed in the crusading search to alleviate the suffering of Zimbabwe’s most vulnerable and marginalized social groups and amplifying the silent screams of girls who want their abusers to know that: “Virgins do not cure AIDS”.

Today I saw a grown woman cry.

I watched the tears of relief fall down her face, watched her eyes sparkle in gratitude and watched her smile in triumph – the most desperate longing of her heart finally realized and neatly allotted to boxes in a 40-foot container.

I don’t know Teresa Dangwa very well but one thing I know is that it is her life’s greatest desire to always be the hand that God uses to ship hope to Africa – one box at a time, one container at a time and one shipment at a time.

I took a detour that landed me in Albany, New York and I am glad that I did because I got the chance to meet one of the warmest and most passionate women I am proud call a fellow country women.

And somewhere in Chivhu, someone’s child will be touched, blessed and changed by the gift from the hand of a crying stranger.

Today I watched a grown woman cry over container of boxes and all I could do was watch. Because her weeping was about more than the boxes; it was about a dream realized and a dream that she will repeatedly work towards fulfilling – a dream to ship something to Africa – something called hope.

(For more details visit Shipping hope to Africa)
*This trip to America was funded in part by the US Embassy’s department of Public Affairs in Zimbabwe.