Let's Raise our Voices

As I write this blog, I have just recovered from a nasty case of laryngitis. One week ago my voice was a mere whisper. Those close to me know that words endlessly fall from my lips. The idea that these words would be forever trapped without voice to carry them into the world sent me into an admittedly near state of panic and into a wilderness of sorts.

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“ Giving is an expression of gratitude for our blessings.” - Laura Arrilage-Andreessen

Until this illness, I’d not much considered my voice. It was something “nice to have” – neither luxury nor necessity. When it was lost, I ached for it. The experience left me with a mound of puzzlement and wondering. And interestingly, on a parallel track to this worry about my own voice ran the dire statistics of our world….the ones that speak of the desperation of the “other” 93% of the world without (fill a need in the blank).

During the month of December we’ve run a special campaign about giving at The Mama Ada Foundation. We are not alone. Letters from nonprofits arrive in my mailbox nearly every day, beseeching me to give to their mission, give to their cause, give to their work. I’m struck by the similarity of the words in these letters, as they each try to inspire me to give money. And, in the midst of receiving these many letters, my own voice was lost to me.

Well, my voice is back in full force perhaps to the chagrin of my sons. This short-lived experience taught me that our voices are a gift. And, I believe that God asks us to use them wisely, use them kindly, use them well on behalf of others in desperate need. Perhaps we might use our voice less to debate a “deserving” cause for our or the world’s attention and instead to celebrate whenever we or someone gives to something that makes our hearts skip a beat in joy.

The inspiring need of the students to attend school and the desperate need of the farmers to plant a crop are close to our hearts at The Mama Ada Foundation. We have chosen to give voice to their hopes and dreams….to receive an education and to have food.

We give voice to the fact that one million children are still out of school in Kenya. And, while this is almost half the number from 1999, it is still the ninth highest of any country in the world, according to UNESCO. We give voice to the fact that farmers in Kenya often struggle against the elements of wind and rain, all the while without seeds to even plant in many cases. We give voice to students who study by candle light with dreams pulsing through their hopes; we give voice to farmers who lie awake at night fearing they will not have food for the coming year. To these students and farmers, we have offered our voices and they have given their hearts in return.

So let’s all raise our voices in a chorus of praise for our blessings, along with a desire to find the places where our deep gladness meets the world’s deep hunger, as Frederick Buechner suggests is right and true. And, during this holiday season of giving, we salute your voice and the places deep and dear that you decide to give it.

- Julie Keller