Wednesday, April 21, 2010
This last Friday night, Olivia and I were invited to a benefit dinner for The Well, which is an organization to benefit the people in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). It is actually part of a larger organization called No Boundaries International, which helps people all over the world, including the US. (For more info on The Well, click here; For more info on NBI, click here.)
I guess I should start with a little background. Olivia and Kelsey have recently started taking swimming classes at the YMCA. Olivia, being the social butterfly she is, has made a new friend, Uzima, who is just two weeks younger than her. Last Tuesday at class I met Uzima's adoptive mother, Debi. She happens to be one of the co-founders of The Well, and invited us to attend the benefit dinner on Friday. She also told me of some of her experiences in the DRC and some of Uzima's history. Uzima is Congolese and has only been in the US about a year. She is amazing, let me tell you.
Olivia and I spent the rest of the week looking forward to this dinner. Friday night came, and off we went. I expected the Congolese dancers. I expected the performing artist, Xola Malik. I even expected the keynote speaker, Ben Kalala who is president of the United Congolese Community of America and future presidential candidate for the DRC. What I did not expect was the heartstrings.
To be honest, Africa is not one of those places I have given a lot of thought. I have never been there, I wasn't following world news during the times with Darfur and Rwanda were capturing a lot of national attention, and it just seemed so very far away. Sure, I know people who have gone there or moved to the US from there, but we've never really talked about just what it is like. So if you were to have asked me what I thought Africa was like I would have thought about movies like "The Lion King" and "Hatari". Yep, that's me. Really educated. In Disney and John Wayne, that is.
Fast-forwarding to Friday night. I know it's a benefit. I know they are going to talk about the poverty, the violence, the orphans, the needs. I should have expected my reaction. I can't even spend time at a nursing home without attaching to one or two of the residents. I just love people too easily. And of course, that means I want to help them all.
So Friday night, Olivia and I got home about 10:30. She went straight to bed and I sat on the couch next to Ben and talked about our evening. And I talked about how I'd love to move to Africa and spend time serving the people there and trying to do a little to improve conditions.
And do you know what Ben said?
He said, "Sorry, honey, I like my toilet paper."
I guess it just proves it. This romanticist married a realist.