What Lasts?

Dear BOH Family,

This December, I, Mackenzie, walked into work with my face smothered in a N-95 particulate mask as ash drifted lazily down from the Thomas Fire’s oppressive smoke cloud. With this above and evacuation orders anticipated at any moment, I packed my “go bag”. While I gathered the bare necessities, I was struck by the relative inconsequence of my possessions. In a dire moment, I saw with new clarity how almost everything in my daily life could be burned and I would still be relatively… fine. It begs the question, if all this can be lost, what’s worth saving? What lasts?

Before I go further, this isn’t to diminish the tragedy of those who have lost everything in the fire. With deep sadness, our hearts at Because of Hope go out to those individuals and we pray for all help and providence as they enter this time of rebuilding - physically, mentally, emotionally. This week was a reminder of how rare it is to rely on the “bare necessities” in America, while the bare necessities are what widows in Uganda (and around the world) daily struggle to attain. Even more striking is the fact that what are necessities to us are luxuries for them. Store-bought soap, shoes, toothbrushes are non-essentials when each day is a hunt for food. Thus, possessing what we consider the bare necessities - “having enough” -  is a mark of success and reliable income for these widows. Having enough is an achievement, not the norm.

This is why we are thankful to do this work together with YOU every day - even (especially!) as ash falls like snow on our shoulders. When so much can burn, you’ve joined us in something that lasts: pursuing sustainable empowerment for those who don’t have enough. This empowerment does not come from hand-outs that will eventually, through time or happenstance, be destroyed, but by creating space for these women to develop reliable solutions for recurring problems. As Abraham Maslow, the psychologist famed for his “Hierarchy of Needs”, argued, the bare necessities must be met before creativity can thrive. This year, we witnessed the fruits of once-impoverished widows who now have enough. They are creative, resourceful, able to try new things! This year, these women problem solved by using their own savings to purchase pigs; a resource available, relevant, and in demand within their own communities. This is true evidence of empowerment and we couldn’t be more thrilled!

With this in mind, we are so thankful for each of you. Whether donor, friend, or jewelry buyer, YOU enabled this type of lasting empowerment to come to fruition. We look forward to 2018 with eager expectation beyond what we will do, to what these incredible women will dream up next. Together, let’s watch their creativity flourish. Cheers to 2018!

With all our love and gratitude,

Mackenzie & the BOH Team

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