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Lemonade : a personal connection with Kenya

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Our lemonade stand was closed for business this weekend due to poor weather conditions. It gave us a chance to catch up with some "office work"... squeezing lemons and balancing books. Last week one of our customers asked why we specifically choose to help people in Kenya (Living Water International is quite obviously an international organization.) I thought I would take a some time to answer that question here on the blog.

When Max watched this video a few weeks ago, he had a loose (but personal) connection with the protagonist... that "personal connection" inspired him to act. In 2009 (when Max was four and Maggie three) our family spent six weeks living in Lucy's country. Ben was working at Kijabe Hospital as a doctor and I was working at home... as a mom. Our kids were young and likely don't have memories of their own from that time. But we talk about our experience, look at pictures and share stories about our time in Kenya. They understand (with some clarity) that Kenya is a real place with real people.

Personally, the thing I find hardest about being compassionate (and teaching my kids to be compassionate) is making personal connections. A few nights ago, we were talking about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in our small group... it makes my head spin. I get overwhelmed just trying to understand what it is actually all about. But, if I had ever been to the Gaza Strip or West Bank, or if I knew even one person on either side of the conflict, it would probably change the way I think about the issue.

This weekend it rained a lot... and I was reminded that you don't need to travel to the other side of the world to make personal connections with troubling world issues. We were looking to get out of the house and decided to take the kids rollerskating at the gym where I train. The young lady at the front desk had a Spanish accent. I was immediately curious. In America it is rare to go a day without hearing Spanish, but in New Zealand it is a novelty. I have only met three people of Latino descent in the year that we have been here. I introduced myself as a fellow foreigner and asked a few questions. How did you end up in New Zealand? Do you like living here? How long have you been in the country? Do you hope to stay longer?

She was a charming person and (strangely enough) her accent made me feel a little bit more at home. As we got acquainted, she told me (with tearful emotion) about her country... Venezuela. She was waiting for her visa to be renewed and hoping that she wouldn't have to leave the safety and security of New Zealand... but clearly torn - heartbroken for the well-being of family and friends in her homeland. Her brother-in-law and a close friend were among the 24,000 murdered last year in Venezuela. Did you catch that number... to put it in perspective, Madison Square Gardens seats 18,200 people. Fill up the worlds most famous arena and add an overflow room for 5,800 people and you will represent the number of Venezuelans murdered LAST YEAR. Having met Sara, I have a different level of compassion for the Venezuelan people. I don't have any solutions for the problems they face - but my heart is changed.

Meeting Kenyan people changed my children. My kid's don't remember the specific details of their stories in the same way I do. But they do know that Kenyan kids need clean water and they shouldn't have to walk miles to get it. It was a privileged for our family to spend two months in Kijabe. It changed the DNA of our family and made us all a bit more grateful.

** If you want to help my kids build a well in Kenya** you can buy some "virtual lemonade" HERE.  We need to sell fourteen thousand, eight hundred and twenty eight cup... but Max is optimistic and pretty confident that we can make it happen. We have already raised $172.50 (a remarkable number considering it is wintertime in New Zealand).

Feel free to share THIS LINK with your "thirsty" friends.

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