Every day I sit at my desk, typing away, researching, planning, and making connections with people around the world. But being so physically removed from the children I’m helping can sometimes make me question the impact of my efforts.
How can a photo I post on social media or a connection on LinkedIn possibly help children get the vitamins they need to make it through another year?
As a supporter, perhaps you’ve wondered the same. Does your Facebook “like” really matter? Is your contribution really helping children in need? You know we’re an efficient organization, but will 25 cents really help save a child’s life?
I returned from Kenya a few weeks ago with a definitive answer. Yes.
It’s not about my trip to the field. I did no actual aid work there, that’s all left in the highly capable and trusted hands of our field partners. I went only to bear witness to the truth that our support, in whichever way it’s given, is changing lives.
The second I stepped foot in a health clinic in Kenya, my skepticism disappeared. I saw the need.
Fifty some mothers and children were waiting to be seen. When I walked into the clinic and oohed and ahhed over their beautiful little babies, to my surprise, I got zero response from the mothers. No smiles, no eye contact, nothing.
Kenyans are typically known for being incredibly friendly and open people, so receiving blank stares from these mothers felt very unusual. Then I remembered that these families are living on extremely limited resources. They were at the clinic trying to find answers, but weren’t sure if they would be able to. Fearing for their children’s lives, I can only imagine that they felt helpless. Scared. Confused.
I caught my breath and stepped outside only to see a clothes line of old sheets stained brown with holes that looked like snowflakes. After visiting the office to discuss the expansion of our vitamin program at the clinic, I looked beyond the broken down buildings and there were lush trees dancing in the wind, vibrant birds zipping past us and, in the distance, kids were laughing. Glimpses of hope were everywhere.
As the day went on we visited families who had been given our vitamins and those glimpses of hope grew bigger and bigger. When we pulled up to their homes, the families would welcome us with open arms. With beaming smiles they thanked us for the vitamins, because without them, they would be sick, tired, and unable to perform the daily duties that were essential to their lives.
The mothers would have been craving soil, (yes soil), for its minerals and nutrients and their babies may have been born premature, severely underweight, or even with life threatening deformities like spina bifida.
I glimpsed an immensity of hope at one site where at least 100 mothers and their babies showed up to greet us. One by one mothers stood up to testify to the impact of our vitamins while, their healthy, vibrant and bodacious babies bounced up and down in their arms.
“Today is a wonderful day!” a beautiful, strong woman named Norah said. Another woman laughed, “Well, you can see for yourself,” as she held up her very chubby baby. More mothers told us, “The child was so big the doctors were like ‘ahh!’” and “My breast milk is coming out like a great cow!”
The hope was tangible. It was right in front of my eyes.
And to think that this is all due, in part, to the work that I do at my humble little desk. Just sitting here typing away is making a difference. For those of you reading this, you are making a difference.
If you’ve ever felt disconnected from the cause, know that every single action you take to help Vitamin Angels is making an impact. It’s opening a window of hope for a child to reach his or her full potential.
This blog was written by Jill Agonias, Vitamin Angels’ Digital Content Marketing Manager, following a recent trip to observe our project in Kenya.