Thursday, May 14, 2009

Gettin' It Done

(Don't miss the video below this post.)

Often I become overwhelmed when thinking about all the problems in this great big world of ours. Because really, there are times when just getting through a "normal" day is all I can do. Add to that thoughts of genocide, people starving, children with no opportunities for education, and honestly, hiding in my bedroom for the rest of my earthly existence sounds inviting. There is so much to take in, so many hurting and hopeless. What could I possibly do to make this world better? Well for starters, I have to focus on my children. I have to raise functional, open-minded, compassionate, kind human beings. And, I want them to be "thinkers". Because all the "doers" in the world began as "thinkers". Rather than becoming completely overwhelmed by all that ails this world, I can get started in my little corner. Do all that I can right here, right step at a time.

While I would love to hop on a plane, and find myself in one of our world's countless aching countries armed with hope and the resources to make a difference, it's not my time. But I pray, with every fiber of my being, that one day I will have the opportunity. For now, I'll prepare myself by being a "thinker". I'll open my eyes, mind, and heart more frequently. I'll educate myself on issues, even if I can't change things. When my time does come, I'll be ready.

It's good to know there are people gettin' it done. "Doers" who most certainly began as "thinkers". My DSF (dear sister friend) Valsy introduced me to the story of some phenomenal high school students. I think you'll find Mallory and Meredith O'Malley, as well as their fellow classmates at Saint Pius X Catholic School (in Kansas City, Missouri), to be more than a little inspiring.

Did you know that Southern Sudan holds the world's largest displaced population? Due to the horrific effects of war and genocide, two generations of Southern Sudanese have no education, 85% of the population is illiterate. Currently, over 300 children do their learning under a tree in the village of Turalei. During the rainy season (May-October), there is no school. But one man would like to change all of that. Turalei is the home village of Manute Bol, a former NBA player. His goal is to build a primary school for the children of Turalei. The primary school will welcome Darfurian children and Southern Sudanese children, in an effort to show some sign of reconciliation for all of Sudan. This school will cost around $150,000 to build. Thankfully the O'Malley sisters and their classmates were up for a challenge.

Mallory and Meredith serve as co-presidents of the Letters of Compassion (L.O.C.) group at Saint Pius. The group was founded in hopes of raising awareness of world social issues such as genocide, human suffering, and poverty. In just 7 months, the L.O.C. group (with the help of their entire high school community) has raised over $8,000.00 for the Manute Bol School Project. The group has spearheaded various fundraisers such as Barnes & Noble Book Fair Partnerships, selling candy grams, student raffles, and a Spring Bazaar/Craft Fair just to name a few.

The efforts of Mallory, Meredith, and other students at Saint Pius are being recognized by
True Hero. True Hero is a non-profit organization granting cash awards to schools and youth groups that sponsor service trips and activities. These cash awards help schools continue their service programs. You can cast your vote for Saint Pius' Manute Bol School Project here. While it is true that each and every project listed is doing great good, I voted for the Saint Pius project. Kansas City, Missouri will always hold a piece of my heart. It was there that I was blessed to meet amazing "thinkers" and "doers". This is my chance to honor some that I didn't have the chance to meet. Not to mention, most of the other projects have been taken on by college groups...I'm a fan of high school kids.

There is already good news. Construction of the primary school has begun, with the first purchase of a new brick press. When the O'Malley sisters were asked why Saint Pius X students are so eager to be involved with this project, this was the response:

"...five days a week we are able to attend a school with four walls and a roof...we are offered endless amounts of opportunities to insure us bright futures, in Turalei, this is unfortunately not the case." (Mallory)

"Because we believe that education is the key to a prosperous and peaceful future, this is the most meaningful gift we can possibly help give to the children in the village of Turalei." (Meredith)

Well said girls, well said.

Wait. Before you leave, check out the video. Thanks.


SnarkyMama said...

If you remember your favorite song when you were a little girl was "Dreamweaver." You would sing it at the top of your little lungs...

Mallory and Meredith are truly an example of today's "Dreamweavers."

People who help others achieve things that one could only dream of and possibly things they never even could imagine existed....

You are a "Dreamweaver" in your corner of this world and when the time is right you will either help others realize their dreams beyond the walls of your home or you will raise up people who will be able to do what you were not know I believe that...I raised those kind of people (in spite of myself!) :)

"Life will leave its marks on you or you will leave your mark on life"...I am confident the
Mallory(s), Meredith(s) and Snarky Belle will do the latter.........

K2cole said...

And they say that todays youth are not up to par!! What a great story. I love the faces of the children.

Thanks for the heads up.


Shauna said...

Wow, how incredibly inspiring, it too makes me want to make a difference. I believe there is a time and a season for everything....during my current season I pray to raise children as wonderful as Mallory and Meredith.

Mommy (You can call me OM) said...

Natalie, I'll have to come back and spend more time on this post. I'm drawn to learning more about this, particularly because my daughter attends Catholic school with twin Sudanese girls. One is in my daughter's classroom and she sat with us last weekend at mass. It's been difficult to learn much about these girls because there is a communication gap with the parents. I haven't been able to figure out how much, if any, English they speak.
We also have a Sudanese priest at our parish, whom the twin identified as her uncle. I'm not sure if there truly is a biological connection, but I'm glad they are able to support each other.
I'll read more later. Thanks. :)

em said...

i'm always amazed at all of the things that are going on that i have absolutely no clue about. the world always seems a bit bigger when i read your blog;-) thanks!

Sue said...

Wow, that's quite a project. And I just voted for it.


Valsy said...

Thank you. I am sending the link to the girls. They have NO clue what a compliment it is to them to be highlighted on your blog. Thank you. It means a lot to me.

Krystyn said...

How awesome are those girls? Wow. That's amazing.

KC Mom said...

Those girls blow me away! I'm so impressed with teenagers who are selfless!

Laretha said...

I love this story! So glad we to have such great girls represent teen girls every where!!! YEAH GOD!!!!

Going to vote for them now!

It's young people like this that give me great hope for the future of our nation!

Frosty said...

I hear it said that nowadays teens are so self centered, looking out for number one. HA! What two girls started, an entire school and community finished.

This was no small undertaking for two "kids" in a big world. I wholeheartingly believe that these girls learned more than a lesson on charity & giving. They also learned any goal is within reach when you seek the help of God.

I read how these girls prayed daily for inspiration on fundraising ideas. Prayer. It really does make a difference.

I loved Laretha's comment, "YEAH GOD!" It is truly refreshing to see people all over the world give Him praises & thanks from this great work.

Michelle said...

Awesome! I love stories like this that prove there is still so much good in this world!
So many who are anxious to "bless the human race"!
This really inspired me today.

karen said...

There are so many great kids out there. I'm continually impressed.

Kerri O'Malley said...

Mallory and Meredith are who they are today because of wonderful people such as yourselves, people who do not know the girls personally but have taken the time to encourage and recognize them. Positivity through the grace of others has empowered their spirits. You are the True Hero, for like Mallory and Meredith, you love the children you do not know. Val, you and all the leaders at the Rotary Youth Leadership Academy, have been the blessing that has sparked their inspiration. Natalie, thank you for the post.

I can brightly see Christ in all of you.

With sincere gratitude,
Mallory and Meredith's Mom

Fiauna said...

Wow. Now that's impressive! The situation in Sudan just pulls my heart to pieces. And every last person on this planet is one of God's children. That's the thing that gets me every time.

little jill said...

So I've been missing for a while, but I'm resurfacing.

So for this post: Weird. I was just sitting in my son's room after changing his diaper and thinking about a whole bunch of randomly sad things like child prostitution and genocide wars and thinking how I could just sit and be sad forever if I really focused on it, but then I stopped and realized that I needed to focus on my family. So I find that a weird coincidence.

As for your politico post on liberal/conservative. I too find myself on different sides of the aisle, depending on the issue, and I find that people who are super left really just want everyone to be happy, which is a nice theory, and so do I, but things just don't work that way. Someone has to pay the bills.

Anyhow, how are things with your move to Georgia and such???

Catch ya later!

Mallory said...

Dear Natalie, I just wanted to thank you for highlighting the Manute Bol School Project on your blog!!! It means so much to my sister and I. You have truly inspired me and I am honored. Thank you for all your kind words and support. It's people like you who keep us going! God bless you!

Dear Val, thank you for all your help and encouragement over the past year!

It is our hope that because of this school the children in Turalei will have a prosperous future full of peace and happiness.

Mallory O'Malley