As you may know, we've been back from the Congo now for 2 months. It is incredible to see the change and the success that is already taking place as more goats are purchased and given to the families who are adopting or are related to the children who have left the militias in South Kivu.
Our partners AJDC, are led by former child soldiers who seek to bring more children out of the fighting forces. They work to empower the whole person through education, family care, psychological counseling and vocational empowerment. The goats we're providing empower the families who care for them so they can afford the expenses associated with a new person in the home.
Its so simple. 100 dollars buys two goats, 2 goats empower one family, one family adopts one former child soldier.
Sometimes I think back to how much we've seen and done to arrive at this place of seemingly simple operations. How many battles we've faced and "lessons learned the hard way" we've encountered. Being an organization that focuses on sustainability, reproducibility and native planning and management certainly didn't happen overnight. We had to learn...a lot.
I knew I wanted to do something good and I knew it was going to be in war-torn countries, but that was it. After telling Josh Foliart, my mentor and pastor, he said,
"What if nothing happens for five years? Are you going to stick with it and learn?"
With hesitation, but probably from a point of immaturity, I responded, "yes."
"Then leave," he said, "go learn about what is happening in the world in war-torn countries, and travel as much as you can before you start something of your own, no one is going to trust you if you don't speak from a point of experience."
Very few things in my life have proved to be as true, valuable and impactful as that statement.
So I did. One country after the other, Colombia, Honduras, Iraq, Afghanistan, Uganda. Street children, orphans, widows, single mothers, the disenfranchised, the churched and the unchurched, the muslims and the poor, the rich and the uneducated, military and civilians and the schooled, the broken and the empowered, the honest and the liars.
I could write books and books about the things I learned but it is summarized in this: sustainable self-empowerment through planning and listening based on the ideas that are already within a culture and community is really the only way to proceed through empowerment (not aid, though there is a time for that, too).
This blog series will reveal more about our growth as we work hard to build our project with former child soldiers in the Congo, and I hope that it empowers and inspires those who have dreams to "go learn."