Antidote for Nausea

It had been rough going for nearly two hours. Cavernous potholes. Broken asphalt. Gritty litter. No shade in sight. We were sweating, despite the full-blast air con.

Hundreds of smokestacks as far as the eye could see. An apocalyptic landscape.

I glanced over at David. I recognized that look. Ashen face. Eyes closed. Head tilted back. I expected we’d soon have to pull over so he could throw up.

I thought he was carsick. But the cause was much deeper….

We arrived. Our host warned, “Take care, the stairs are very uneven.” They were. But as we climbed, we entered into another world. Ubiquitous dirty brown blossomed into color.

David made a remarkable recovery. Later he confided, “I was picturing the misery of the kids in those factories and it made me sick.”

Each of those nearly 300 towering smokestacks marks a brick factory. With an average of 40 boys per factory, that multiplies to a mind-boggling 12,000 child laborers.

Robbed of their childhood, they sleep by the dozens on factory floors far from their village families.

They’re in constant danger. One died last week in a kiln accident. Another lost his fingers to a brick-cutting machine.

So why his quick recovery this time?

Because we found hope.

As we wound up those uneven stairs, hope was revived. First, by brightly painted colors. Then, by gently whirring fans. Finally, by a joyful welcome to join the fun!

At the top of those stairs, we meandered from group to group of children, ages six to eleven. Quietly enraptured by a story reading. Or carefully constructing arches with blocks. Or busily solving jigsaw puzzles and math problems.

Order out of chaos. Beauty out of ashes. Strength out of weakness. It all starts with an invitation to be a child again, dispelling despair with a chance to hope again.

This not just a children’s center. It’s a doorway to a different world. To dignity with responsibility. To firmness with kindness. To a future of hope emerging out of this present misery.

That’s what dreamers do. They often cannot change the hard places. But they can bring about a different way of thinking and living inside hard places.

The woman giving birth to this children’s initiative is just that kind of dreamer. She started work at age six as a recycling sorter. But then she learned the power of hope.

Her loving grandfather insisted that she go to school. Empowered by her faith and education, she resolved to stay put for others who suffer with no way out.

The plight of these child laborers in brick factories galvanized her to action. She organized reading and math classes for practical skills. Plus she added hands-on play with puzzles and games to spark their creativity. One by one, her pupils studying during factory off-hours are passing national exams!

 

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We’ve got some great news to share from the Haskells!  

 However, before we jump into that, allow us to introduce ourselves as the chairs of the US and Swiss boards of directors for Dreams InDeed. 

I am
Rick Williamson, US board chair.  As a clinical psychologist, I specialize in trauma recovery and strengthening individuals and communities against stress impact. I prepare humanitarians and responders worldwide to serve effectively in harm’s way.  Over my fifteen years in this field, I’ve recognized the essential role of those special persons in every community who embrace and build up their most affected neighbors. 

I serve with Dreams InDeed not only because we engage in the world’s hard places, but we also aim to strengthen the “insider” for the truly transformative impact that the world so desperately needs. I am honored to serve along with each of you in support of the Dreams InDeed mission.

And, I am
Joe Campbell, Swiss board chair.  As a mediator in civil and political disputes, I contributed to peaceful resolution of the troubles in my home country of Northern Ireland, leading to the Good Friday Agreement.  I also mediated in Nepal alongside politicians, community activists, and church leaders in the search for a just and lasting peace. In both, I supported Dreamers and have often been a Dreamer myself. 

 

I know what it means to be affirmed and encouraged by outsiders who make it their business to be informed enablers.  That sensitive participation fosters hope amidst despair.  It is my honour to join in the crucial work of Dreams InDeed.  Together with you, I will do all I can to nurture sparks of hope into lights of joy.

Now, here is the news we just received from David and Janice in the Middle East:

 

Dear Rick and Joe, 

 

Thank you for your faithful and effective servant leadership as our US and Swiss board chairs.  We were challenged by the wisdom and faith of both boards setting such ambitious goals this year.  As our fiscal year gets underway now in July, we’re excited that strategic doors of opportunity are swinging open on every aim we agreed together!  

 

Goal: equip exemplary dreamer cases in the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and East Africa.  Progress: despite escalating violence, dreamers are persevering with six initiatives among the hardest countries of the worldwide Fragile States Index.  This year, we’ll sustain both Dreams InDeed’s unprecedented regional registration and our continuing Jordan residency to strengthen these dreamers, guided by Janice.

 

Goal: research parable communications to engage closed minds via both word and deed.  Progress: The University of Oxford has approved David for doctoral field research on The Pedagogy of Parable.  To develop this Dreams InDeed training curriculum, David will shuttle between research in Oxford and case work on the ground in the Middle East.

 

Goal: research publishable Middle East cases on the transformation of pluralist conflict.  Progress: an exemplary Lebanese visionary has volunteered his civil society, public service, and business networks for rigorous field research.  Plus two Oxford professors, experts in values education and intercultural dialogue, will supervise the fieldwork.  

 

Goal: engage next-generation prospects to serve dreamers in hard places worldwide.  Progress: Kellogg College, with Oxford’s greatest number and diversity of international graduate students, has granted David membership.  Adjacent to Kellogg, Dreams InDeed has secured an operating base in Oxford for us to host and befriend global candidates.

 

Goal: expand our thought leader networks for aligned advisors and European board members.  Progress: upon review of David’s Pedagogy of Parable research proposal, six professors immediately volunteered their expertise in international development, political science, public policy, economics, leadership science, and character cultivation.

 

 

On behalf of the boards of directors of Dreams InDeed, we thank you again for journeying with us on our mission to strengthen dreamers in hard places so the poor thrive as God intended. We look forward to your continuing participation as we accelerate toward our shared vision: “a light in every hard place in our generation.”