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If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered.Proverbs: 21:13

I’ll Never Be The Same

The deeper our Egyptian driver drove into this desolate district, the grumpier he got.  Then he snapped, “I will go no further!”

At first, he’d cheerfully chatted about driving for big name charities, enjoying helping the poor. So, quizzically, I glanced at Tala, my Jordanian friend.  She relayed, “He insists this area is too dangerous.  Potholes.  Drug dealers.  Carjackers.”

“Yet I come here all the time, no problem,” I responded. 

Persuaded by Tala’s coaxing, our driver reluctantly pressed deeper into this apocalypse.  Thousands of children labor here, hauling millions of bricks fired in hundreds of factories.  His tension only subsided after we left that area and picked up speed on a new freeway. 

Tala had a good look at reality and began to understand what we call “hard places.” 

We drove onward to a seaside camp that a local visionary had organized for child laborers.  She rewards the most diligent among 693 boys studying at her school after factory hours.

Arriving at her seaside camp was breathtaking.  This camp adventure contrasted day and night with their factory drudgery.  Brick hauling was replaced by surf splashing.  Grime morphed into grass.  Smokestacks into palm trees.  Diesel fumes into sea breezes. 

Not missing a beat, the visionary put us on stage as actors in her camp’s opening theatrics.

In that play, an alien threatened to destroy earth because humans were destroying it and each other.  Depicting people from all nations, we begged the alien for a chance to change.  Thus, this visionary introduced the camp themes: love for people and care for the earth. 

These kids gloried in their chance to be children, many for the first time ever.  Act in a play to overcome evil with good.  Play wild games with water and paint.  Nurture the gift of a living plant.  Discuss how to become better friends.  Eat enough dinner to actually feel full.

Touched by these precious children, Tala wept.  “I’ll never be the same.  My aim is to engage the Other in the dark.  Now I’m starting to grasp what this really means.  So, I’m all in!”  (To the left you see her “all in” fixing a flat tire.)

Tala is the next volunteer in our network for “a light in every hard place in our generation.” 

But her choice to venture into the dark to nurture these emerging lights is no isolated incident.  Others in the most far flung places are doing the same! 

This year, some visionary lights that we strengthened have pierced darkness like this:

  • In Middle East active war zones, 811 volunteers befriended and cared for 490 mentally challenged children and sustained 485 internally displaced families. 
  • At risk on streets in Egypt, 379 runaway girls and boys received care in relationship.
  • Over 135 refugee children of those flooding Lebanon received schooling, and over 300 practiced respect, forgiveness and love at camps with peers of other faiths.
  • Volunteers from all 18 confessions in Lebanon donated over 6,200 blood units for a holistic peace, building unity in diversity and saving lives across sectarian lines. 
  • 81 marginalized tribal kids and orphans from Himalayan villages cultivated character in a children’s club innovating a values curriculum with fun activities.
  • Other visionaries pursued innovations in clean energy, trauma recovery, cyber security and affordable housing, tackling issues making hard places much harder.

In addition, we challenged global economic forum delegates with our vision of a light in every hard place.  Requests for Dreams InDeed expertise are coming in from as far as the horn of Africa, the South Pacific, East Asia, Europe, North America. 

Time and again, we find dimly burning wicks.  We then nurture values into flame and stoke a dream into a blaze.  Now we must gear up to respond, more broadly and effectively. 

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It’s high time for those living in darkness to see a great light. Please add your fuel to these flames above.  Help us multiply their impact, inspiring others to follow their example. 

Rejoicing in the light! 

Janice Hayashi Haskell
Vice President of Program Development
Dreams InDeed

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