Zuri Watoto Wote

Gratitude revisited and passion discovered….a reflection

Posted in AIDS Orphans, Gratitude by Lynn Ouellette on 12/15/2009

I haven’t posted for awhile since a bout with some rib pain threw me entirely off course and into a state of true fear about a cancer recurrence. Everything is fine and I only bring that up here because it caused me to reflect on many things including this trip. I realize now that in the midst of all of that worry and more—that this trip still stayed near the forefront of my mind. That in my fear as I worried about many things including  the possibility of needing a course of radiation therapy (which I don’t , since I’m fine) that I was counting down how I could potentially finish that in time to still go to Kenya. And now that I’m breathing an indescribably huge sigh of relief and once again trying to get back on track, I have a truly renewed vigor for my perspective of gratitude which I feel every day.  This has also made me realize how important this trip has become to me—the real reason for this reflection.  I guess adversity, like my recent scare, does teach us, remind us of important things, and give us cause to reflect.

When I first started considering this trip I had a desire to do something for AIDS orphans, which I had had for many years, and I had always dreamed of visiting Africa. At first I thought that, despite this desire, the demands of the work I do at home might keep me from having enough time and energy to go and really devote myself in the way that I thought this trip deserved. Then I began to learn more about AIDS Orphans, I met with Lloydie Zaiser and experienced her infectious enthusiasm for the work at Nyumbani and viewed a powerful video about the experience of AIDS orphans that moved me to tears…. and I was on my way. Since then my awareness of the unimaginable breadth of this problem has grown and my heart has been weighted by the problem at the same time that I have been inspired by people who have devoted their whole lives to this cause. I have had to tell myself that even though the problem is so enormous and that doing anything that I could do seems inconsequential, that just doing something is a start,  so as not to be overwhelmed by it. I have also learned more about AIDS, about the politics of prevention and obtaining the best drugs, about African culture,  learned a little Swahili and looked at countless moving  pictures and read countless stories of children who have been orphaned by AIDS or have HIV/AIDS. Many of the stories are tragic, sad, heroic, triumphant…. All of this has connected me to this country where I’ve never been, to children I have never met, to a culture I have never experienced and a desire has grown into a passion.  So for the brief time when I thought that the reality of this trip might be threatened, I realized that I was going to go unless it was impossible, that I had made a commitment and was going, period. So I am reflecting on this now realizing  that the process of  learning  more has truly bred caring more deeply and the secondary goal of  wanting to tell others more about the AIDS epidemic and the plight of AIDS orphans has become much more of a determination. It’s a reminder that what you invest in and spend time getting to know better becomes what you care more about.  And in this process, Africa no longer seems like some distant faraway place and the largeness of the world has somehow definitely become a little smaller for me.

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