Thursday, January 24, 2008

Dear Ndugu

Remember back in early December, or was it late November? It’s all such a blur. I had that really dark moment where I whined about the weather, and the darkness, and my poor choice of reading material? Honestly, I think a good 70% of that funk had to do with the books I was reading. A Thousand Splendid Suns ripped through me like a tarnished silver spoon, and left me feeling fat, vapid, and inexcusably comfortable.

Shortly after I posted that unsung piece of drivel, I stumbled upon a link to a site dedicated to humanitarian aid in Afghanistan. From there I followed a link to this organization—Women for Women—where I was swallowed in whole. I signed up immediately.

I’ve never been much of the charitable donation type. I have no excuse for this other than a vague sense of distrust for organizations that come grubbing after my money. I’ll give used clothes, and buy extra toys at Christmas for the homeless. Hell, I’m more than happy to give a pint or two of blood to whomever will take it despite my garishly tattooed ass. But actual money I’ve been more than a little bit reluctant to part with. Shame on me.

I liked the philosophy behind this group though—teach women in war torn countries a marketable trade, give them a small amount of cash each month to see them through while they’re in the program, and then hopefully set them up with a bit of investment capital so they can eventually support themselves and their children with whatever skills the organization has taught them.

There is a one time $30 administration fee—this bothers me, but is a necessary evil I suppose—and then I give $27 per month after that, $18 of which goes directly as cash in hand to which ever woman (or sister, as I’m meant to think of her) I’m matched with. The rest of the monthly payment goes towards teaching and education opportunities for women in the program. Pretty reasonable, right? Plus Oprah featured them on her show twice, so they must be legit, right? Right? What is wrong with me that I’m such a suspicious person?

After I signed up, Christmas fell upon us all and then I got sick, and I sort of forgot all about it until a week or so ago when I got an e-mail notifying me that I had been matched with a ‘sister’ in the program and the first month’s donation had been charged to my credit card. A few days later I received a packet in the mail with the name and a few (very, very few) personal details of said sister. Oh, and a picture. A dark, unflattering, miserable little picture of a guarded, weary, grim looking woman.

Kabara is her name, and I’m supposed to write a letter to her. But Jesus! What do you say? What could I possibly write to this woman about my shallow, pampered, pre-packaged, Western life that won’t, with every clumsily worded sentence, remind her of everything she doesn’t have, or worse—has possibly lost?

The instruction booklet that came with the packet says, “Oh hey, don’t worry about it. Everyone feels that way. And also, we’ll sure try to get your sister to write back but most of them are suffering from depression, or post-traumatic stress, or both, or worse, not to mention the giant hurdles of language and illiteracy we must surmount. So, like, don’t count on it. But please do write anyway. M’kay?”

Helpful. Not.

So……friends………come on… a girl out. Write this damn letter for me!


Mom said...

See your actual e-mail. This response is for your eyes only.

Jilly Baby said...

JEDA whilst I sympathise with your charitable predicament, what bothers me more is why should your 'tattooed ass' affect your donation of blood? They take it from your arm in the civilised world love! Buy, hey if you want to wave your paw printed butt to any Tom, Dick or Hans then who am I to stop you?