My friend, Elaini Garfield, is doing something creative to raise awareness and money for orphaned children in India. I know, I know! Another fundraiser. But please don't click away just yet. I think Elaini has something compelling to tell us. And it starts with her own experience. Here's what she wrote on her blog about the motivation for her new campaign:
All my life I’ve had various health issues but I still managed to graduate early from high school at 16. Instead of getting a head start on college, I woke up one day and realized I was sick. For the next six months, my health rapidly declined. It was almost impossible to go out of my house and I spent much of my time in bed or in the big cushy chair in our living room. For a while, I stayed curled up since when I moved my skin would crack and bleed. During the next four years, I struggled not to go completely crazy from the pain and sleepless nights. I have seen some improvement in the last two years and have even been able to take some classes at a community college.
Living for four years in survival mode doesn’t help you dream at all, yet alone dream big. I can’t change the past but I can affect the future. This year I am setting out to dream. Not just little dreams but big ones. I believe my pain has a purpose, and Jesus brought me through it so I would have compassion on others. My experience has given me a desire to help other children dream. Even though I am still weak, I don’t want to waste the life I have been given. Here I am setting out on an adventure to help others with whatever strength I have.
I love that Elaini sees that pain that can have a purpose. If you've been a long-time reader of this blog, you may remember what I wrote about Elaini back in 2008 in a post titled, "The Grace to Help Others." This other-oriented perspective is nothing new about Elaini. She has been faithfully cultivating it for awhile. Therefore, when she became aware that many orphans in India can't go to school unless they can afford to buy a uniform, she set out to do something to help.
Orphans in India can’t go to school without a uniform. However, they often don’t have clothes to wear. Growing up surrounded by turmoil, human trafficking, and loss, an education can help these orphans dream about a different life. I have been given so much that I can have “fashion,” while these children struggle to stay clothed. I have to do something. I’m hoping you’ll do it with me.
Here’s the deal: I’ll wear a black dress for several months (don’t worry—I’ll have two of the exact same style so that I don’t start smelling) to identify with the children who only have one outfit. I’ll accessorize it in different ways, take a picture every day, and blog it. Think of it as a dress marathon. Here’s where you can help. I want to raise $50,000 for the orphans in India. I’m going to wear this dress as a reminder of these children. Would you help me help them?
The money that Elaini raises will go to a nonprofit called Warm Blanket Orphan Care. As she writes:
Warm Blankets is a non-profit Christian mission, dedicated to the rescue and care of orphans and widows in developing nations. There, children are raised, not in cold institutions, but in loving church orphan homes by widows from their own communities. Women who understand their loss and pain. The children become a part of a nurturing family environment where special care is given to their physical, emotional and spiritual needs. It is a safe haven.
All contributions to the One Dress Project go directly to Warm Blankets Orphan Care. They will be used to give these children a future and a hope through educational and vocational opportunities. The children will have the opportunity to go to school with their peers and be taught skills that will enable them to become productive citizens. Warm Blankets also provides ESL programs, computer training, and agricultural instruction, equipping the children with skills to further economic progress in their native countries.
I hope this post encourages you to think about what you have (in all your circumstances) that can be recycled for the good of others for the praise of God's glory. I like Elaini's spirit and I hope her outlook is contagious!