"What if everyone got a Valentine this year? What if no one in Santa Rosa felt unloved this Valentine's Day? We're honored to be a small part of that."
I know what you're thinking -- "What? Santa Rosa? I thought you were in Cape Town?!" No, friend, your geography knowledge isn't off. I'm still in the Mother City with my good friends Table Mountain and Fran Thring. These words were on an invitation I received from my friend Holly who lives in a suburb of San Francisco who organized a city-wide love fest. I too was confused when she invited me into this movement of unconventional love that was based so far from where I am, until I scrolled down to the bottom and saw that she extended the invite to people all over the world to love their local homies and cronies.
That's a beautiful thought -- what if NOBODY felt unloved -- so we grabbed some red, pink and white paper, glue sticks, and got to work. We armed ourselves with chocolate kisses and real kisses and set out to love every child with special needs in our path. This random love project aligns so perfectly with the heart and mission of Uphold Global.
As we left Guguletu on a high, patting ourselves on a successful deed well done as we all tend to do after a random act of kindness, we drove by a child sitting on the side of the road. From a distance he looked to be about 12-14, and should have been in school. Oftentimes there are children who have dropped out of school at a very young age for a variety of reasons...drug abuse, joining gangs, needing to work to support their families. I was about to open my big mouth and ridicule this young man's decisions...probably something along the lines of "Doesn't he know if he just finished school he'd be able to accomplish so much more in life?!" until we finally got close enough that I could see him face to face. My little heart sank so fast that it skipped my stomach and went straight into my large intestine as I saw his sweetly slanted eyes and recognized that this darling boy has Downs Syndrome.
No parents around, his green pants tattered with holes with his little shoeless feet showcasing his toes flexed towards the sun. He was leaning his head against one of the railings on the side of the highway he was sitting on, and right then and there I was reminded that we can do all of the fun little candy drops and baby hugs in the world -- but to never lose sight of the fact that there are hundreds of millions of children like this who aren't in organizations yet.
I'm sure Fran is mentally preparing herself for my inevitable hot mess, vulnerable K cry tonight while I wail into a box of tissues and bowl of popcorn about how unfair it is that this little boy doesn't have the opportunities and love that he deserves. While that is 100% true I keep use moments like this to remind myself why Uphold is needed. The compassionate, motherly side of me wants to scoop him up and put him in my car and keep him forever, but the practical side of me knows that supporting organizations here is a much more sound, practical and efficient way of helping him and all of the others like him. We didn't start just to create moving media pieces and host cool fundraisers. Uphold isn't a grand idea to boost my or my co-laborers moral egos so that we can drive by impoverished areas and not feel guilty about having middle class lives. Rather it's a movement of what REAL love looks like so that not just on Valentine's Day, but EVERY day, no child will feel unloved.
One of the things I love so much about my precious little organization is that the solution we're fighting for and aiming towards is 100% possible. We're not trying to cure cancer or end an international war.
We're simply figuring out the best ways to strategically and practically love the people groups that are the most disadvantaged and most overlooked in the world.
We're grabbing our metaphorical pompoms and bullhorns (which look a lot like funding and awareness) and and forming pyramids of advocates for organizations who are already making great strides to deliver justice, hope and love for these treasured little bubs and saying "YES! AMEN! YOU GO GIRL!"
We're not going into this blindly -- we know that hope and justice for children with special needs who are usually victims of abuse, neglect, abandonment, and rape IS a reality. It's just a matter of connecting the right organizations with the right types of resource and partnership.
We're simply the much needed middle man to make sure that organizations have a foot in the states with incredible people like you who have the means to help them help the kiddos. We just tell the stories, and get to kiss as many itty bitty drool covered cheeks as we can in the process.
Check out the video on Facebook that shows about our little lunch break random Valentine's chocolate drop for these kiddos and share this story with someone who you think needs to hear about what we're doing.
We've heard back from a lot of churches, schools, and universities in this last week who are keen for Uphold to come to their organizations and talk about how they can be a part of the movement that we're creating -- but we're looking for more! The more people who know about the injustice and darkness these children are trapped in, the more people can be a light for them and fight for their rights.
To donate towards our projects so that we're able to provide the love these babes deserve, You can sponsor our projects through our fiscal sponsor, World Outreach Ministries, by making an online donation via www.WorldOutreach.org/donations and select Uphold Global from the list, or simply mail a check to World Outreach Ministries, PO Box B, Marietta, GA 30061 and designate for #182.