Last month, I felt like the moon – casting a joyful light amid darkness (my post below casts some light on this statement, pun intended). It was all THANKS TO YOU, our amazing friends, fans, donors and customers. Because of you I was able to bring 50 pounds of books from Better World Books and Books for Africa to Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya. Enjoy this video and be so proud of your contribution. Read more below for the whole story…
“’We must strive to be like the moon.’ An old man in Kabati repeated this sentence often… the adage served to remind people to always be on their best behavior and to be good to others. He said that people complain when there is too much sun and it gets unbearably hot, and also when it rains too much or when it is cold. But, no one grumbles when the moon shines. Everyone becomes happy and appreciates the moon in their own special way. Children watch their shadows and play in its light, people gather at the square to tell stories and dance through the night. A lot of happy things happen when the moon shines. These are some of the reasons why we should want to be like the moon.” I highlighted these wise words in Ishmael Beah’s A Long Way Gone my fourth year of college and penned in a smiley face with my shaky pen.
This analogy of the sky threads through the entire book as a spirit of perspective during a real-life nightmare unfolding with each new bleak sentence. Beah was kidnapped and forced to be a child soldier during the civil war in Sierra Leone. There were nights when the hope of the moon was all that kept him alive.
I suffered from my own nightmares of what would happen when I woke up and continued to read about what Beah would face next. Spliced among these nightmares, I also had dreams of serving as the child soldier rehabilitation counselor that Beah fondly remembers. I made a conscious decision to learn every single thing I could about this “dark” continent so I could move there upon graduation and fix it.
Little did I know this intentional academic journey would change my life forever. My idealism would be tested, my heart broken many times over, my mind opened so wide I had trouble focusing it again and my stomach destroyed. I would also slowly learn to be a little more like the moon thanks to the bright light inside so many kind Africans along the way. And rather than my fixing their problems, they would fix my heart.
One year later serving in the Peace Corps in Madagascar I, too, understood the power of the moon. The fact that I saw the same moon as my friends and family who seemed a whole universe away was so comforting. I chased my shadow with the children in my village and danced under it with fellow volunteers. I felt its peace and its grace – much like the young ladies who frolicked across the red dusty roads with baskets and buckets piled high atop their heads.
Beah also wrote that “some nights the sky wept stars that quickly floated and disappeared into the darkness before our wishes could meet them.” Two years after being enveloped by the moon, the mangoes and the mangroves of Madagascar, I found myself in Northern Uganda staring up at the most star-filled sky I’d ever sat beneath and feeling the weight of the world on my shoulders. I was trying to remember that if God could place each one of these stars, surely He could place me where I needed to be. Fourteen bumpy offroading hours later I was being serenaded by the freshest faces of the African Children’s Choir in Kampala.
These little children come from the most vulnerable of situations across Africa. They are members of child-led households, children of subsistence farmers who do not have enough crops to feed all of the hungry mouths in their family, orphans of AIDS and genocide, victims of civil war and political upheaval that leave them displaced. Yet these precious young people have the sweetest grins, most contagious giggles and best ideas of most Ivy-Leaguers and celebrities I know. They are the perfect example of the hope and dignity across Africa. With the chance for an education, these children shine even brighter than the moon.
One of the only moments in my own life when I have truly felt like the moon was when I sat with friends and family and watched my documentary about the Choir on CNN. The amazing young people sang, danced, shared their story, shocked people and changed the lives of viewers around the world. These children and their continent changed my life as well. I realized that the moon must feel so fulfilled every night when it gives its light to the world thanks to my one small chance to share a glimmer of hope.
After trying various routes to make my little bit of difference in this world, I learned that education was the answer. Better World Books is the perfect way to bring together businesses, non-profits, students, professionals, grandparents and babies in the name of ending world poverty (as cliché as it sounds) one book at a time!
Take a moment to sit back and feel like the moon (and share your stories of being like moon with us)!