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Beauty in Hardship

Apologies for the long absence from blogging. Unicef has brought me back (with a promise to be, as Larry McMurtry once said, "more regular.")

I learned about Unicef in high school. I bought a Unicef desk calendar, which I kept for many years to continue to look at the wonderful art and wise quotes from around the world on its pages.

One Halloween, my church's youth group went trick-or-treating for Unicef. We split into teams, and each was assigned a different part of our small town to knock on doors and ask for donations. My team was assigned the poorest neighborhood. And to this day, I am glad. I knocked on the doors of those houses with trepidation. How could I ask these people for a donation--they were already struggling. But I asked. And they answered. Not one single family turned us away without making a donation. In some cases, their contributions were as small as 3 pennies, but NO ONE turned us away without making a gift to this wonderful organization that helps children all over the world. My team returned to the church with the smallest amount of money, and we did not win "first place," but we won something much greater--profound knowledge of the human spirit.

The photo above is of an Ethiopian mother and her one-year-old son, Mare, visiting a Unicef-funded health center. I just received this photo in a letter from Unicef, asking for donations. While the hardships that this mother contends with are evident on her face, so is her great beauty--and her love for her child. She has an elegance, an inner tallness and outward grace that are arresting. None of this is untouched by the extreme difficulties of a life without health care and other basic and necessary resources. Yet, her beauty survives, despite all this. It comes from a strong soul. It has to.

It is a message to make my own soul stronger, as well, and to give a donation to Unicef, even though it may not be a grand one. Many years ago, kind people who needed every penny they had, gave me three cents to give to Unicef. I disgrace their memory if I cannot contribute my own "three cents" now. As we face a troubled economy, we need to remember that act is more important than gesture. We cannot afford to "freeze" because we believe that we cannot do "enough." We must simply do and give, as we can, when we can. I'm making a donation to Unicef at this link:

Another option: Order cards, wrapping paper, calendars, and other items from Unicef at their online store. The cards are beautiful and cost as much as 75 percent less than retail greeting cards. Your purchase helps Unicef, and you save money on something you would normally buy for birthdays, holidays, and other times of year. (They even have sound cards with music.) At left is a photo of the Unicef Asian watercolor cards, some of my favorite designs.

So much beauty: the mother and her child, the many people working withUnicef to help other children, and you and I--we can be beautiful, too, by giving to a beautiful cause, one that needs our help more than ever.


Te echaba de menos a ti y tus palabras. Como siempre aciertas a despertarnos y levantarnos de nuestros cómodos sillones y ponernos "manos a la obra". gracias

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