As many of you know, I set up a Facebook birthday fundraiser and invited people to make donations to the Habibi Center where I’ll be volunteering for the first part of 2023. Close to $1,500 has been raised as a result of the initiative. The director texted last week to say “we were tight on funds at the end of the year but this pulled us through”. Thank you to everyone who donated and if you haven’t donated yet you still can. Go to donate to the Habibi Center via Paypal.
In the world of non-profits and fundraising one person can make a difference. I’m reminded of a recent piece in the New York Times by Farhad Manjoo on the best way of helping those in need. No one person can change everything that’s wrong with the world but one person can choose a niche, engage with that niche for the long-term and perhaps change the world for some people.
Manjoo also talks about recognizing the humanity of persons in need. When you “acknowledge their existence and extend to them the kindness you would to any other person” you are with them.
Last week I met Elsa (name changed) around a friend’s kitchen table in Montreal. She’s recently obtained refugee status and is studying to complete secondary education despite language barriers. She described the rigours of her journey on foot from Central America through Mexico and into the United States . For months she hid with her parent in the US until they were able to cross into Canada. She’s 17 and hasn’t seen her mother for three years but she has hopes they’ll be reunited once Elsa’s permanent resident status is confirmed in the next two years. Despite the sadness both mother and daughter must feel at the enforced physical distance that separates them, it was touching and uplifting to sense Elsa's enthusiasm as she talked about her academic goals and outlined the career options now open to her in Canada. Unlike millions of refugee children around the world, her future is no longer on hold.
Elsa’s story gave me hope for the young people I’ll be working with in Athens. Your donations continue to provide them with a small sanctuary and create for them through education the possibilities of belonging. You’ve allowed them to imagine a future. Thank you for helping!