Monday, January 23, 2012

I may not be able to change the world but maybe I can change his…

One of my favorite Mother Teresa quotes “If only one little child is made happy with the love of Jesus,..will it not be worth…giving all for that?”

Peace Corps has been one of the hardest experiences of my life. The living conditions are tough and the emotional ups and downs are worse. There are days when I feel like I’ve made a real difference, days when I feel I’m on the brink of something great, and days when I want to put my head between my knees and cry because everything I previously thought was wrong. I’ll make progress only for things to regress. I’ll see change and then old habits reappear all in the blink of an eye. Sustainability is my worst enemy because it is my hardest goal. I’m working on it. I’m learning. Hopefully by the time I leave this place I’ll have made a lasting healthy impact on the people of Dioro. Time will tell.

The days when everything goes wrong and I feel like giving up I think of Fa. He is a seven year old boy who has stolen my heart. He can’t walk because of an over constricted thigh muscle. This little guy only has a few articles of clothing, very few toys, and isn’t allowed to attend school but NOTHING gets him down. He is always smiling and laughing and shares everything I give to him with whoever is around him. He comes from a big family with four kids at home and the four oldest kids in school.  Fa’s parents are spending a lot of money on school for the oldest children so they are backed into a corner and can barely afford meals every day yet alone send the other four kids to school.  I love this family very much and do all I can to help which, unfortunately, is not very much.  We cook lunches together and I brought back a ton of toys for the kids. I feel very lucky for the time I have with them and even luckier for the time I get with Fa. He’ll crawl up onto my back and I’ll secure him there with a Malian scarf and we’ll bike to my house where we can get some uninterrupted quality time together.  Last week we cooked Mac and cheese, thanks to my friend Ashley in WI, then watched one my childhood favorite movies “Land before Time.” He loved the food and really loved the movie except he held his little hands over his eyes when Sharp Tooth came on the computer screen. I forgot how scary that T-rex was..  We don’t get much time together but it’s always spent eating delicious food, watching cartoons, and laughing uncontrollably.  He reminds me that life is what you make of it. Be grateful for what you have and never forget to give away what you don't need.   

Changing the whole world may not be an option but if we can give and show love to the people around us and they do the same, I know we can make a difference even if it’s just one person at a time. I’m hoping to get Fa enrolled into a catch up program for school this next year and am looking into some handicap organizations to get his condition looked at by a specialist in Bamako.


  1. I felt the emotion in this post, pulling at my heart strings. Love this Ash, been thinking about you & praying for you!

  2. I loved this post... I will be working in Senegal as a Preventive Helath Educator. I only hope I can change someone's life like you are changing his. Keep up the good work! Peace, Cristina