Tag Archives: help


Calling someone a hero is such an overused thing anymore.  Doing so has nearly lost its’ power, at least for me, at least in my country.  Too often, we throw the word around like it is nothing.  When I was young, a hero was someone who rushed in without thought of their own personal safety, just on instinct or habit or natural inclination; to save the life of another, like Superman stopping an oncoming train from hitting a car of children stalled on the tracks.  Or it meant it was someone who would make the life of another something so much better than it would have been if not for that heroism.  True heroism can be a single act, or it can be a lifetime of action.  Heroes don’t mean to be humbling, but they are.  They make us look at ourselves and wonder if we could ever be heroic like that.  I don’t think that Harry and Echo VanderWal would be all that comfortable being called heroes.    But if they are not, then who is?

If you ever find yourself talking about how something needs to be done about this or that problem in the world, how do you respond to yourself?  Do you just talk and make demands of others, or do you actually DO something?  Or perhaps you are simply struck with analysis paralysis finding that despite wanting to help and wanting to do something VERY good, you do not HOW?  Well, here’s a how you can help some real heroes do their heroic work.  Support the work of the the VanderWals and the Swazi people.  Give to The Luke Commission and help their work not just to save one life at a time, but to save an entire country from the ravages of HIV/AIDS and from REAL lack of access to even the most basic of healthcare services.

The VanderWals run hundreds of clinics, year after year, reaching into every nook and cranny of Swaziland.  They treat many hundreds of patients at each of these clinics.  They facilitate ongoing care year after year for those with chronic medical problems.  They bring health and they bring hope.  They help failing eyes see again.  They bring mobility to those who otherwise would be stuck in their simple homesteads, unable to manage the rocky streets without durable carts.  They screen for and treat hypertension, diabetes, and tuberculosis.  They treat everyone for intestinal parasites which rob people of whatever meager nutrition they are able to obtain.  They are performing hundreds of adult male circumcision, a procedure that is proven to reduce the risk of spreading AIDS.  At each of these clinics they stay well into the dark seeing every single person who comes for help, no matter how late into the dark it gets.  No one, not one person, is turned away.  Never.  Harry and Echo see patients and operate in the darkest of night until every last patient is cared for.

Trust in Swaziland is hard to come by.  The Swazis trust the VanderWals because the VanderWals have proven themselves trustworthy.  Because of that, the Swazi people get tested, get treated, get life.  No one has been successful like they have been in helping to turn the tide for these beautiful people.

I’ve seen them in action.  It is humbling.

YOU can help #192.  You can help hundreds of #192s.  Your money could simply not be more well spent.

On this World AIDS Day 2012, do something tangible to make a difference.



Haitian Earthquake

There’s something about having been to a place, of having your own pictures of a place, that makes someone else’s tragedy very much your own.  My first overseas experience was the summer I spent in Haiti on a mission trip back in 1981.  The mission where we were working was not too far outside of Port-au-Prince.  While most of my pictures reflect the poverty, the dirt, and grim living that personifies Haiti, I have one picture, a picture of the presidential palace, that does just the opposite.  It has been difficult for me to look at the images that are coming out of Haiti.  To read of the expected death toll and to be a distant witness to the horror is heartbreaking and frustrating.

I remember Franc, who was a delightful and gregarious 12 year old back then.  Look at that face.  Doesn’t it make you smile???

Franc would be in his 40’s now and with a family of his own most likely.  What is his fate?  And there was Marquise.

She was a sad and distant 16 year old when i met her.  What of her?  Life in Haiti for most, at its best, is about survival.  What now?  I find myself searching the pictures for faces I recognize.  But of course, after all these years I wouldn’t know the faces of the people I knew back then now if I saw them.  But buildings don’t change much.  And we know from our own American experiences that buildings have “faces” and evoke emotions when we see images of them being obliterated.

Most of the buildings I saw when I was there were simple, one or two stories, nondescript and not memorable.  Only one building was one that I would even remember if I saw again.  This was the presidential palace.  Even it did not survive.

The presidential palace of Haiti as I saw it in 1981, above.

The presidential palace of Haiti as it is today, below.

Pray for Haiti as the situation evolves.  Pray for Haiti as the days turn in to weeks.  Pray that those who have managed to survive the earthquake will not starve waiting for help…will not die from the diseases that inevitably gain a foothold after these sorts of natural disasters…will not lose whatever hope they might have left.  Pray that somehow, some way, Haiti will rise from the rubble a better place for those who call her home.  Pray that there will be peace in the midst of this chaos.

And, as you hear the stories coming out of Haiti, and learn of the needs that need filling, if it’s within your power, be a part of assisting the Haitian people as they begin the long struggle of recovery from this horrific tragedy.  While Haiti is a world away when you consider how life is lived there, Haiti is only 750 miles from Florida.  Haiti is a closer neighbor to many of us in America than we are to ourselves.  Consider helping this neighbor, like you would your own.

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