Monday, March 3, 2014

Faith in what will be

Right around a year ago, Maggie and I got into a major fight. She had been accepted to USIU, and we had quickly celebrated this great opportunity. But as she went ahead and enrolled, I panicked - knowing I did not yet have the funds raised for her first year. Maggie was inconsolable, fearing that now that her dream was within reach - she would have to face that it was just too good to be true. I was devastated that she doubted my commitment or belief in her. We were at an impasse. I asked her to wait one more semester so that I could secure a handful of funders that would help us in the coming years to avoid constant scrambling for fees. I needed to know that she would be able to focus on her studies, and that I would be able to focus on my work. I wanted it to happen - but I didn't know when it would happen, and was afraid of moving forward with freshman year without more money in the bank.

Maggie, in a combination of desperation and incredible faith, was ready to move forward - even if it meant that at times she'd have to put her studies on hold while we raised funds. She wanted to start - she was ready to go to University.

As I vented to friends about my stress in taking this commitment on, it only took a few people to realize I was being too cautious. "Let her start school, the money will come." I heard this from a variety of friends in Kenya and abroad, some who planned to donate and others who simply believed in Maggie's potential and my ability to raise the money. By the time the next semester rolled around, we took the plunge, continuing to share our initial fundraising video and crossing every digit and appendage we had.

When I think about the difference in Maggie from her sadness, anger and frustration the day I told her she could not start school yet, to the joy and confidence that she exudes right now, I am blown away. And as I take this emotional and sometimes daunting journey beside her, I am humbled that she was right to want to start, and my friends were right to encourage me to let her. Money can be a sordid temptress, but I have learned time and time and time again, that where there is opportunity, community, hard work and creativity - it will come.

It has come!

Today I was notified of a recent donation, and when I logged on to our fundraising site, I saw that we have raised $4,836 of our $4,900 goal. The truth is, we have raised a bit more - with a couple of monthly donors catering for safe housing and healthy food costs, and a few others donating via our new partner organization, the Ndoto Project (which offers tax receipts as they are a non-profit). While I want to see that $4,900 goal reached on Go Fund Me - the amazing reality is that we already have a bit of funds in the bank for next year's tuition. Further, Maggie has a clean and safe room next to campus, gas to cook with, healthy food to eat, bed linens and other necessities that we weren't sure we could cover. I am floored, humbled, grateful and tickled pink.

To those who have shared this young woman's story in your own communities, encouraged me in this endeavor, donated once or more - thank you. You give me hope in the value of a single life, and the power of a community behind her. You are part of her story, my story and so much more.