Helping Africa

Since I'm a goody-goody and I'm hoping that the karmic universe will somehow, someday, recognize my tiny contribution to helping the less fortunate, I've been doing volunteer work for this awesome non-profit organization called the Oulessebougou Alliance. It works in partnership with the villagers of Mali, Africa to provide healthcare, education, and to teach their people ways to be self-reliant. I love this concept because all too often, when we have a charitable situation where the people involved are only doing the taking, and not learning how to get themselves out of their circumstances, they become too dependent on the organization providing for their needs. And it becomes a vicious cycle. People need to learn that they can help themselves, no matter where they're from, who they are, or what level of education they've attained in life.

I'm not trying to be preachy. I'm just 100% impressed with the Alliance's management of their charity.

Anyway, like I said, I've been volunteering. The annual fundraising dinner auction is this Saturday (I get to wear pretty clothes and pretty shoes, hooray!). I've been helping out since the year I got married, so a good long while now.  =)

What I do is simply this: make the donated certificates (usually from restaurants, theater companies, recreational places, etc.) look good for the silent bidding part of the auction. I have to mount them on pretty papers, coordinate color schemes...it's like a big scrapbook party/sleepover/whatever-scrapbookers-do-when-they-get-together-thingy. Some of the certificates or gift cards are already nice and pretty and those are no-brainers at all. I can finish them in 5-10 minutes. But then there are those...ugly er...more challenging pieces that make me want to: scream, run, cry, whine, sleep, and repeat everything in the same order.

I'm doing this for Africa. I'm doing this for Africa. So goes my mantra. I'm really hoping the great karmic universe is listening, 'cause I might need it one day when I finish my WIP and start querying. (Oh be still my quivering knees!)

Here are some pics of the mess I made:

And more:

The upside is I looove pretty paper. Oh look, glittery!

I guess this post is not writing-related, but I did want to highlight The Oulessebougou Alliance for the amazing work that they do every year for the Malians. And everytime I sit at that dinner, with pictures being shown on the huge screen of these beautiful African children, I am grateful to part with my wallet. All because I see my own children sitting there with me, happy and healthy and well, and it is the greatest feeling in the world to know they're okay and always will be.


Joyce Alton said...

I'm with you. Pretty paper, stickers, fun pens, and scissors that cut in patterns--lots of fun!

On another note, I was working with one of my kids on the history of Mali this week. They used to be a huge, wealthy center of trade and education. It's sad when civilizations deteriorate and a sobering reminder that no one is immune.

cherie said...

Wow, imagine that. I guess that's why dystopian novels work--everybody knows sooner or later what's on the top right now could be bird fodder next. Societies rise and fall throughout history.
On a different note, yay you're a paper lover like me. I also love notebooks and journals with artsy covers. I buy them but I don't use them hehe. Too pretty to write in.

Anita said...

Cherie, I loved this post! It doesn't always have to be about writing. Sometimes we want a glimpse into WHO this author is. And I have to say, I'm quite impressed with your charitable heart!

I love the pictures! It looks like you're getting to integrate your creative side with your altruistic side. How cool is that? You're doing a great job w/the certificates. Your presentations are gorgeous!

Anita said...

BTW, are you on twitter? I'm @aghowardwrites. If you're there, find me and I'll follow you!

cherie said...

Thanks, Anita, for your kind words. I do love working for the Alliance--I've been doing it for over 8 years now. My whole family is involved in the project--I think it's especially good for my young kids to see that there is always opportunity to help others. I know they enjoy coming to the auction (and asking me to bid for stuff they like). =)

I don't have twitter. =( I'm trying to take this whole coming-out-as-a-writer slow and easy. I want to make sure I have time for my family first, then my writing, and lastly the blog. So far I'm enjoying blogging, esp. cause there are nice people in the blogosphere helping me feel welcomed (like you). =)

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