Mental Post-Its

Thoughts, Notes, and General Mental Mayhem


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My India Trip Q&A

India mapSince I announced a few weeks ago that I was headed to India this summer, I’ve been asked a lot of questions about the trip and my fundraising efforts. So, I thought I’d take the opportunity to answer a few of them here for you now.

Q: When are you going?

A: We’re going in July! We have tentative dates, but may change them based on the cost of airfare. We’ll try to go when it’s most economical during the month. And we’re planning on staying for about two weeks.

Q: Who are you going with?

A: I’m headed there with two friends. This first is Katrell, who founded the organization we’ll primarily be visiting in Darjeeling, which provides education for at-risk girls in India so they may pursue secondary and university learning. The second is Stephanie who is a friend that also works for Katrell.

Q. Where did you meet the women you’re traveling with?

A. I’ve known both of them since 2012. We met when I was volunteering with the Georgia Chapter of Not For Sale.

Q. How are you connected to the organization?

A. Katrell owns a tea shop in Downtown Atlanta, and the proceeds benefit the scholarship program. I loved the shop and the work she was doing, so I have volunteered my time with her by consulting on her marketing and communications for both projects. I have also attended her monthly fundraising dinners several times, and made sure a lot of my friends knew what she was up to—and where they can get a good cup of tea.

Q. How did the India trip come up?

A. Ever since we met and I fell in love with what Katrell was doing, she’s told me I needed to come with her on this trip. She goes usually twice a year for about a month each time, and I have stalked her every time she’s made the journey. She does a great job documenting it! Now the timing has finally worked out for Stephanie and I to accompany her. And I’m so excited to be going with someone who knows their way around!

Q. What will you guys be doing on the trip?

A. The details are still being worked out right now, but we do have a loose itinerary. We’ll stay with the 11 scholars at their center in Darjeeling and spend time with them, helping however we can and learning their individual stories. We’ll also explore the cities of Kolkata and Darjeeling, and possibly Mumbai or wherever we fly into. Additionally, we plan to visit the tea plantation in Darjeeling where Katrell sources her tea. I’m also thrilled that we’ll be connecting with local orgs that are fighting various forms human and labor trafficking in India to learn from their work. And, of course, we plan on having a lot of fun!

Q. Why do you want to go on the trip?

A. This trip is an opportunity for me to better myself, and in turn, the world around me. It is a chance for me to learn more about issues that I’m extremely interested in and passionate about, such as human trafficking, slavery, women’s rights and girls’ education. If you’ve read even just a few posts on this blog, you know those are common threads. They have deeply wrapped themselves around my heart. I read a lot about these issues, watch movies, do some volunteering and attend events, but this is a once-in-a-lifetime trip for me to see it up-close on the other side of the world in a place where it is more common and exposed. According to the Global Slavery Index, India has more slaves than any other country. So, I’m extremely curious to witness the climate that facilitates such an atrocity. I’m ready to meet these people and share their stories with you. And I know it will give me renewed vigor in my local work.

Q. Is this a mission trip?

A. This is a question I get from friends and family in the Church. It is a trip with a mission for sure, but not one like most of you are used to seeing. It is not affiliated with a church or religious organization.

Q. Why are you fundraising for this trip?

A. No one has actually asked me this, but I thought I’d address it as it is a natural question. I actually really struggled with the decision to fundraise. But then I reflected on a few past conversations and here’s where I landed. Predominantly, while this is going to be a fun and amazing trip, it is not a sight-seeing tourist vacation. I very much see it as a humanitarian trip. I will primarily be there to learn and bring those lessons back home with me. If you know me personally, you know I am a natural evangelist for things that I care deeply about. So, this trip will live beyond me. I will find ways to use what I learn, and I will share that knowledge with others whether in the other nonprofits with which I volunteer, my church who will be sending missionaries to live in India next year, articles I write, events I attend or ways yet to be discovered. And the second reason is more simple. In talking with friends in the past about this trip, several of them told me that if I was ever able to go, they would help sponsor me.

Q. How will your funding be used?

A. I’m trying to raise $3,000. Approximately two-thirds of that is just for the airfare. The rest will be food, lodging and transportation within the country. And if I’m able to raise any additional funding, I will happily give that to the scholarship program and their great work.

Q. What if you don’t reach your fundraising goal?

A. Anything that I do not raise, I will pay for out-of-pocket. It will be a bigger strain on my finances than I’d like, but again, I believe this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Q. How can I help?

A. There are three primary ways I’d love your help. The first is, of course, that I’m fundraising for this trip. Any amount you can contribute would be helpful to me. The second way to help is to let me know if you have suggestions and/or contacts for organizations in the areas that we’ll be in. We have a few in mind, but we’re certainly open to ideas! And the third way is to pray for our journey. Though it is not a traditional “mission trip,” prayers for safe travel, making connections, building relationships and more are always appreciated. I’ll never turn down a prayer.

Did I miss any of your questions? If so, just ask! And thanks so much for your time and interest in my trip! To donate or read more about it, you can visit my fundraising page.

 

**Unfortunately, donations made for this trip are not tax-deductible. I realize that may impact your ability to give, and I still deeply appreciate any consideration. Also, please know that Indiegogo Life, where my fundraiser page is located, charges no fees for its service, therefore all donations will go directly to me outside of your standard credit card fees which are typically around 3%.**

 


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I’m going to India! Would you be willing to help?

ThinkstockPhotos-470167860

Darjeeling, India

I’m so excited to be heading to India for the first time this July with two friends to learn and explore. My friend who is leading the team is the founder of an organization that assists at-risk girls in India to pursue their education through university level with “life scholarships,” which provide housing, tuition, clothing, medical care, life training, tutoring, service opportunities, stability and care while in school. The funding is mostly accomplished through her tea shop in Downtown Atlanta, which is how I met her.

Unfortunately, some women and girls in India are still persecuted for being female, especially in rural areas like Darjeeling. And for some of these girls in the program, good alternatives would be hard to find. They have already faced incomprehensible challenges in their young lives such as: families who couldn’t provide for them, being orphaned for being a girl, and the threat of being trafficked or forced into prostitution, among others. So, I’m excited to meet the scholars in this program who are excelling in their education, and have promising futures that might not otherwise be available to them. They will create a better India. In a country of 1.2 billion people, the education disparity between girls and boys, especially after age 14, is still far too high. Programs like this one are helping to fill the void. For more information on girls’ education in India, please see the “women’s education” section on this page.

Additionally, many of you are aware of my passion for abolishing modern-day slavery. According to the 2014 Global Slavery Index, India has more slaves than any other country in the world, around 14 million. Therefore, I am very interested to see the climate which fosters this reality, and hopefully meet other organizations who are on the front lines of fighting this atrocity in its various forms.

And, of course, there will be many bright spots in this trip. India is a unique and beautiful country with a long and interesting history. I’m really excited to see the culture and vibrancy of these remarkable people.

It’s going to be an incredible trip, and I’d love to have you partner with me.

Here are some of the things we’ll be doing:

  • Staying with the 11 scholars at their center and spending time with them, helping however we can and learning their individual stories.
  • Exploring the cities of Kolkata and Darjeeling, and possibly Mumbai.
  • Visiting the tea plantation in Darjeeling where my friend sources her tea.
  • Connecting with other local orgs that are fighting various forms human and labor trafficking.
  • Having a ton of fun along the way!

If any additional money is raised beyond my needs or goal, I plan to give it as a donation to this incredible organization. And if you’d like to make a donation to them directly, I’m happy to connect you.

**Unfortunately, donations made for this trip are not tax-deductible. I realize that may impact your ability to give, and I still deeply appreciate any consideration. Also, please know that Indiegogo Life, where my campaign is housed, charges no fees for its service, therefore all donations will go directly to me outside of your standard credit card fees which are typically around 3%.**


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Giving A Care

Not too long ago I was at a fundraising event with some friends. A great deal of money was raised in just a few hours, with more pledged to follow in just a few days time. It was really exciting to witness, and as the evening was drawing to a close, one of my friend’s looked at me and said, “It’s amazing what can happen when people actually give a care.” This statement really stuck with me, though not for the reasons you might think. It stuck with me because, in my case, it’s not true.

I’ve always been blessed with incredible friends. If it’s one thing I ever did right, it was the people I chose as my friends. And my friends have done wondrous things. They are givers. They’ve given to me, their friends and family, and many times, even strangers. The people I know and consider to be my friends do, in fact, actually give a care. Many of them may be broke for this very reason. 😉

Some of my friends have raised money with athletic organizations like Team in Training. Some have gone on local, regional, national and even international mission trips. Some have served in churches or shelters or political campaigns or soup kitchens or at nonprofits or animal hospitals or as mentors. They all have given days, but I can easily name those who’ve given weeks, months or years, cumulatively speaking. It would take more than my four extremities, actually, to name them. They give their money, their time, their talents and their influence.

A few summers back I distinctly remember getting close to 10 letters and emails from friends raising money for something. Note: this period was just a couple of months. I was freaking out trying to think of how I could send money to each of them because I wanted them to succeed. I’ve grown to realize that these letters and emails will be a regular occurrence for me. AT LEAST one of my friends will always be raising money at any given time. And that statement makes me smile.

I don’t say all of this just to brag on my friends, though they deserve it. While the frequency in which I receive these requests may be greater than yours, we all still suffer from a common syndrome at one time or another: compassion fatigue. (No, I didn’t make that term up.) Sometimes needs are presented to us so often that they can easily become 1) exhausting or 2) white noise. We give to all, some, or none. But couple these personal requests with what we see on the news, internet and radio, and it can quickly and easily become an emotional overload.

I would urge you to push through the compassion fatigue. There are times I give to causes just because my friends ask, not because I particularly am passionate or invested in the cause. And that’s ok. When I have the funds available to do that, I will do so happily. I want to support them in what they care about, and encourage them to keep at it. We all don’t have to care about the same things. Just care about something. And better yet, give part or all of your heart to it. Don’t just send a check, though those are always good, but personally invest your time, talents and influence as well. When we give a care, we are acknowledging that life exists outside of us. We gain a greater perspective of the world. We become good citizens of it. I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t want to make a difference, large or small. Giving a care is one way of doing that. Champion a cause and see how your life can change for the better. Realize that there’s more going on than just you. Understand that everything on this planet is not put here to serve you, but instead, serve the planet in some capacity. It won’t be a waste of your time, I promise.

Try different causes and see what fits. What makes you happy? What breaks your heart? Where do you see a need you can fill just by being you? What fuels your passion? For me, my two biggies are my faith and modern-day slavery. Both have taken over my heart like nothing else. I champion them because I can’t help myself; I feel compelled. What compels you?

Go on. Give a care.

(And if you need some help finding it, I’m happy to help you explore!)