My daughter was probably about 7 or 8 when she first saw a picture of child with a cleft lip and palate. It was an advertisement in a magazine for a charitable organization that was raising funds to provide needed surgery for children in developing nations. Over the course of several weeks, my daughter kept going back to the photos and wondering what she could do about it. She convinced her two brothers (one older and one younger) to help out. Together the three of them set up a table during our neighborhood yard sale. They donated their own things, created a poster display, and manned the table. They even sold bottled water. At the end of the day, they still had quite a few bottles of water left so they sold them at the Fourth of July parade a few weeks later out of a wagon decorated with pictures and information. (I’m sure we skirted some law about vendor permits or something, but I suspect the statute of limitations is up on this and I can confess it openly.)
The money they collected was donated to Mercy Ships. Mercy Ships is a pretty amazing organization. They have a fleet of hospital boats that are able to bring medical care to those who lack access to much needed medical care. According to Mercy Ships website, “A ship is the most efficient platform to deliver a state-of-the-art hospital to regions where clean water, electricity, medical facilities and personnel is limited or nonexistent. And, because more than 50% of the world’s population lives within 100 miles of the coast, we can reach more people who need care.” Poverty, as well as a lack of trained medical professionals and adequate medical facilities, means that people often live with crippling disabilities that would be easily treated in the developing world.
Take eyes, for instance. Think about all the medical care we have for eyes in our wealthy western world. I took my daughter to the eye doctor a few months ago and was practically chastised for not bringing her in every year (despite a vision check being done at her doctor’s office annually.) I was annoyed at the several-hour wait to have multiple vision screenings performed, a prescription written, and eyeglasses ordered. In America, we can buy reading glasses in the dollar store. Contact lenses are disposable and can be shipped right to your door. And if that is too inconvenient, we can get laser surgery to permanently correct our vision. In some places around the world, some of these seeming inconveniences are major problems. Eye injuries, diseases, and deterioration can mean blindness. Getting the medical care these people need in a timely manner can make all the difference in the world.
Raising money for Mercy Ships almost a decade ago was an important life experience for my kids. They learned that they mattered. The $250 dollars they raised was going to make a huge impact on the life of one child. Even as kids, they were impacting their world. We continued to instill these ideas in our kids over the years. We encouraged them to find their passion and do something about it. Sometimes that means sacrifice and manual labor, and sometimes that means using their talents and the things they love for the benefit of others. If something is tugging at your heart, then do something about it.
If you want to support Mercy Ships through financial support, volunteerism, or prayer, make sure you check out their website. Not everyone can perform surgeries, but everyone can do something.