The "Sweet Dreams" Parade Marches On!
I've mentioned my Sweet Dreams Project here several times, but it's really taken off in so many directions and with such speed that I'm finding it difficult to find a minute to sit down and relate it all here! Now that this afternoon marks the beginning of a week-long break from school, I have the time- and peace of mind- to update all my volunteer-hungry readers how my project is growing.
Last year, as I need not tell in detail again, I collected over 200 pairs of pajamas for AHOPE in Addis Ababa, which I personally delivered last June when my family travelled to pick up Sasha. Of course, I realized the profound discrepency between what they have and what they deserve, so I made it my mission for this school year to spread awareness about how others in my community can help. Although it's difficult to track people down to get the backing for giving my presentations (and my hands were sore from typing what seemed like hundreds of e-mails a day!) once I touched base with one person, others began clammoring for me to enlighten them with my presentations. Every week now, I present to several freshman and sophomore classes about AHOPE through a PowerPoint presentation, and explain specifically what they can do to bring a little more joy to these kids. Two days ago, I presented in my school's auditorium for hundreds of students which- although slightly nerve-wracking at first- went very smoothly. I actually had three people come up to me following that presentation, each of them suggesting I contact people they themselves are in relation with who can probably help me (the owner of a second-hand shop who routinely gives unsold items to charity, for example.) I don't, of course, expect each of my audience members to drop everything and donate to AHOPE- but if I reach just a few people, that's a few people whose outlook I shaped on poverty and need elsewhere in the world. Of course, the more money/donations I can solicit for AHOPE, the more comfort and joy those children will have.
As part of my presentation the other day, I showed a clip from Sasha's video Lifebook, which is a documentary CHSFS made about Sasha's life and history. I of course omitted anything private, but I did show a part that gave a brief overview of Ethiopian history and culture. Seeing that video again instilled in me a strong urge to go back; unlike wanting to go back to a particular vacation place I may have travelled to, I feel so deeply connected to Ethiopia now. There is no question I'll be back at least a few more times in my life (hopefully for more adoptions, whether the children are my siblings or my sons or daughters!) but I want to experience more of what Sasha came from. I'd love to volunteer there, maybe for a summer while I'm in college, just like Melissa Fay Greene 's son Lee did for AHOPE. I feel like as repitive as presenting bi- and tri-weekly on the same subject may be, I learn more about myself and how much this cause means to me with each presentation.
Another opportunity for me to spread awareness fell right in my lap. As I picked up my local paper a few weeks ago, the front page jumped out at me: the church a few streets down from our house is rallying support for an organization they started to support orphans in Ethiopia. Mind you, this is completely separate from my efforts, and our town is small by most measures. I was so excited that I e-mailed them right away; they responded, saying that they'd love to have me present at one of their masses or religious education classes one time. Although I have a lot going on, I fully intend to do this, and I'm also looking into contributing through their organization as well. It's through a church, of course, so there are some religious connections to it, but anyone can contribute, as far as I know. Please go to http://www.hoeministries.org/ to learn more!
Finally, I'd like to speak about my next big Sweet Dreams-related project. Counting on the support of the school that last year accounted for the 200+ pajamas I brought to AHOPE last year, I've started a drive collecting new and gently-used sheets and blankets. When I went to speak with the student organization of third-to-fifth-graders who are helping arrange this, they were beyond enthusiastic, especially since many of them remembered me and almost all of them remembered my drive. The posters they made to advertise the drive displayed the passion they have for this, and it reminded me again of what I'm doing. As much as this will nicely polish off my college applications, Sweet Dreams really isn't about that. This project simultaneously brings hope and happiness to AHOPE's kids and presents an important window into the lives of the less fortunate for the kids in my community.
I realize this post is incredibly long, but thank you for taking the time to read it. I know that if I can make one person think differently- more introspectively- about the world we live in, I know I've done my part. Please visit http://www.sweetdreamsforahope.blogspot.com/ to follow along on my project!