The content and opinions expressed in this blog are mine. They do not represent the US Government or US Peace Corps - Jud Dolphin

Tuesday, December 15

Throw a Pebble

Throw a pebble into a stream and watch the concentric circles spread out. Every child who has ever gone fishing with his father knows how this works. Maybe with amazement he watches the circles form and with delight he follows them outward until they blend into the current.

That's the image that comes to mind as I think about the Hearts of Love Charity Fund's first ever open house and fund raising event. We took a pebble and plunked it into the stream of the Konotop community.

Yelena, Director of the Charity Fund, is the energy and passion. She is not alone. Others join in - mothers and a few fathers working together make things happen. "We want to raise awareness. We want Konotop to see the possibilities of our children. And how a little help can make their lives better."

So it is important to showcase the crafts and art of the children and their families. Yelena makes a special point of showing me a beaded flower that a mother and her daughter has made even though the child is unable to walk unassisted and rarely gets out. "They wanted to participate," Yelena says. I'm touched. It's important to be included even if your body does not always cooperate.

Look at the display of crafts. Imagine the stories that are behind each hand-crafted item. The circle expands including more children. Families are no longer alone.

I'm asked to be the auctioneer at the live auction or as some of the parents say "the loud" auction. We are having a silent auction too. But they want me for the "loud" one. I think they are type casting me knowing that I am comfortable in front of groups.

OK, if the truth be known, I can be a bit of the ham. Still this is different. Doing a "Russian" Auction gets my nerves on end. Is this Russian Roulette? I worry a bit. But then the adrenalin kicks in and the good humor of the people makes it all a lot of fun.

That night after all the people leave we decide to have some chi (tea) and cookies while we count the collected funds.

At the silent auction we are amazed to have 11 new businesses supporting the work of the Hearts of Love Center. One volunteer quietly thanks me, "You helped us get over our fear of being rejected. I didn't want to go into the shops. I was afraid of what they might say. But together, we did it."

Several of the businesses offered to give free haircuts for the children and their families. "Just give us a call, it doesn't matter how many. We just want to help." The circles move outward catching others in the flow.

A collection box in the shape of a giant golden heart contains over 700 grievnah. The auctions and sale of crafts bring another 2100. That's a grand total of over 2800 Grievnah. By American standards, it is not a great deal of money - about $350. But when you realize that I am living on about $200 a month, it has a lot of buying power. We are pleased.

We wish more people had come. Of special concern are some of our local leaders who were invited but did not show. A discussion starts on how we might do a better job next time. I smile thinking that having this discussion is a Peace Corps success. We are evaluating and planning over chi and cookies.

A few weeks pass. An article in the paper reports the results of our auctions. Prominently is a big thank you to all the businesses. A good positive energy surrounds the Center.

Then late one afternoon,Yelena is all smiles. She gathers an interpreter and ushers me into a class room. She wants to tell me something.

"Last weekend a local cafe had a benefit for us. We didn't know it was happening. They auctioned off drinks. Imagine, one went for 600 grievnah. A Konotop leader, who had failed to show up for our auction, bought it. They raised over 2000 grievnah."

My jaw drops. This is totally unexpected or is it? Throw a pebble into a river stream and the circles spread outward rippling across the water...maybe into infinity. I wonder what will happen next?

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a huge success! Congratulations Jud, I hope your ripples continue to affect others! I am now wondering how to implement a silent auction in my community.