Posted By SkatingPj

...and I'll cry if I want to?  Naww...that's not right! Truth be told - it was my birthday - yesterday - and we did have a party. Did I cry? I didn't want to.

My family wanted to know what I "wanted" for my birthday. Truth is, I want for very little. I have a family, great friends, no visible roots (this week), my health and new orthotics (so my feet don't hurt as much.) You see the situation - I have no complaints.

I decided that what I 'wanted' for my birthday is enough time left to be able to make a difference.

Where to start? I know I am not much of a joiner. I am also a person who prefers to target projects directly than through a national or international organization.

My younger daughter arrived back home from 2 months in Kenya, on April Fool's day, where she volunteered at a program called the Tusemezane ("Let's Talk" in Swahili) program. In this program, disadvantaged children have the chance to go to school. In Kenya, school from Grade 1 to Grade 8 is free - BUT- in order to get into school a child has to go through pre-school which isn't free. In this program, run by 3 women, children of any age get the chance to go through pre-school so that they might enter "free" school in the Fall.

Before Amanda left, my oldest friend (she is much older than I) Debbie brought letters from children in 2 suburban Toronto schools to be distributed to the children in this program. At my party, Debbie collected the letters that the Kenyan children had written back. Many of the letters included carefully drawn pictures on paper Amanda bought with crayons and pencils I had sent from Canada.

I know it's small - but for these children this school represents a chance that they wouldn't have otherwise to enter into education, not to mention a safe place where they can spend their days. This program will close if they can't come up with enough money to build a toilet.

Amanda told me about this program over the phone during one of our many conversations while she was away and the passion that I hear in her voice about wanting to help is my real birthday gift. I told her I wanted to write about the love and the charity of these three women in their own community. I am truly humbled by the efforts of Anne, Maggie and Lucy.

I am starting by pledging the fee from one lesson from every one of my skaters in the Spring to the Tusemezane program.  I will offer my skaters' parents the chance to match my one lesson fee donation with one of their own.

My reason for sharing this story is I want to challenge my readers to come up with one simple act of kindness or charity this week. There doesn't need to be a tax receipt to do the right thing and I think everyone gets to choose how to make the world a better place.

I would love to hear via the comments below what one thing you were able to do in your part of the world to make it a better place and I will keep you posted about this program in Kenya.


In the meantime - people in Japan are still struggling - if you want to help - here are a couple of places to check out:


Artistry Skin Care and Cosmetics Canada has set up a link through their parent company Amway, where they are matching donations: Here is the link to check it out:


5 Comment(s):
Marie Holt said...
My son helps distribute laptops for children in third world countries. Last November he asked me to start a blog for him centered on Haiti. This is out of my league, but I've been working at it since then in spite of communication difficulties. ( My son returns to Haiti in June for a year.
Thursday, April 28, 2011 11:18 PM
Paul said...
After seeing her at the Cathedral I asked a lady if she was fine. No she replied, she was very much alone. And so I sat with this woman, Nancy, whose husband had been rushed into emergency surgery with a brain aneurysm until her family could be with her. We sat together for over 4 hours, ventured out for a coffee and established a bond of trust rare in a busy city like Toronto. Her husband is still in ICU 3 days on and it is still touch and go but all are hopeful.
Saturday, April 16, 2011 2:49 PM
Deb Chitwood @ Raising Figure Skaters said...
A belated happy birthday! I love hearing about people making a difference. How wonderful that your daughter is so focused on helping others! I have links to some of my favorite ways to make a difference at my blog, but my very favorite is probably Compassion International - an awesome organization. This Friday, I'll be writing to the 3 children (from Bolivia, Nicaragua, and Indonesia) that my husband and I sponsor through Compassion. Through Let's Drop a Love Bomb, I'll also be commenting on a blog of someone needing encouragement. I regularly participate in the missions at ItStartsWith.Us and find items to donate to the library and Goodwill as well.
Monday, April 4, 2011 4:33 PM
Cheryl said...
Conrgatulations to you and your daughter. She has a very giving heart, and we all know you do as well. Every week I volunteer my time with one of our local dance schools as a teaching assistant in our junior programs. This allows the school to increase the number of children per class to allow many more young ones the opportunity to participate in the program we offer. The difference between our program and other schools is that our doors are open to children of any ability. We have several children in our programs (including my 2) who have high functioning autism spectrum disorders or other developmental/behavioural challenges, and they are given the same oppportunites as the rest of the children Also, with my childrens school I do every little thing that I can to help, even if it is something as simpe as making a batch of playdough. Sometimes the smallest act to brighten someones day can have more of an effect than anyone of us could ever know. Happy Birthday PJ.....Cheryl
Monday, April 4, 2011 7:23 AM
Lytton said...
I give back each and everyday as much as I can. I believe I am lucky to live in Canada, a stable constitutional monarchy with unlimited rights and freedom for all it's citizens and a high quality of life. To give thanks I start with my family, neighbours, local community, school board, and move onto arts & culture, the environment, orphans & wildlife. Your daughter is an inspiration, you must be very proud. Happy belated birthday! Lytton
Sunday, April 3, 2011 11:26 PM
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