Since the weekend, I have been remembering the toll on lives and a community, caused by Hurricane Katrina, exactly four years ago. The following story shows incredible generosity, from an unlikely place; it also demonstrates how connected others around the world feel to us in America, and to fellow citizens of humanity. Their giving knows no bounds. (Excerpt from Growing Up Global: Raising Children to Be At Home in the World):
“I have nothing and what I give is just a drop.
But added to the others will fill a cup.”
(Betty, of Acholi quarters slum in Kampala, Uganda, cited in a report from the Association for Volunteers in International Service.1)
Betty is one of the hundreds of thousands of refugees from the gruesome, nineteen year civil war in northern Uganda. She and her fellow Acholi tribeswomen committed themselves to earning funds to send to the victims of Hurricane Katrina for their basic necessities, which resulted in over $1,000 being sent to Gulf Coast families.
This act of generosity is mind-boggling when you consider that the women’s income is less than $1 per day, and it is earned by pounding stones from the nearby quarry—by hand—that will be used in smaller pieces for road and housing construction.
The income barely supports their families, but these young and old women knew what it was like to lose their homes and were reaching out to help others who had lost theirs. They didn’t doubt this was something they needed to do, and they didn’t question if their contribution would make a difference. Their astonishing generosity embodies the idea that one doesn’t need to be wealthy in order to help others. When Americans have experienced true need and crises, the world community has pitched in to help us, just as Americans give abundantly to benefit countless causes around the world. It’s important to share these lessons with our children—everyone can find some way to give, and people around the world have cared for Americans in need, just as Americans have reached out to the world.
(Note: The women in the photo with this blog are not the same ones who earned the $1,000 to send to Katrina victims, but they are fellow Acholi’s, coming from similar circumstances. They are involved in an income generation-empowerment model making beautiful jewellry from recycled materials that are sold around the world: www.acholibeads.com. Programs like this help re-build their community after a devastating tragedy.)
1. “Giving beyond limits: Women of Acholi Quarters Breaking Stones for Katrina Victims,”
October 17, 2005; from http://www.avsi-usa.org/news