Tag Archives: hunger

Would You Vacation in Haiti?

They have now confirmed over 150,000 deaths in Haiti. The massive earthquake injured and/or displaced thousands more. Families are still looking for lost loved ones, food and water are scarce, and many people sleep without shelter. The situation in Haiti is heartbreaking.

It’s hard to believe that less than 100 miles away is a tropical paradise. Labadee, Haiti is one port of call for the Royal Caribbean International cruise line. Kayaking, scuba diving, lounging on the beach, endless buffets, etc. Truly, a remarkable place. My question is:

In light of the devastating earthquake, would you continue on your vacation to Labadee? Or, pretend your Royal Caribbean, do you still use that port?

Here are some questions to consider:

  • Does proximity matter? Many argue that it’s wrong for vacationers to be partying only miles from the devastation. That seems valid. We wouldn’t go have a party near a funeral. On the other hand, what’s the difference between someone sipping champagne in Labadee than in Michigan? Life has “gone on” in other places so at what point is it viable to use Labadee? How far do you have to be away to begin normal life? 100 miles? 200 miles?
  • Is tourism helpful? Royal Caribbean is donating $1 million in aid plus the revenue generated from Labadee. Each ship is also packed with relief supplies. Vacationers are also encouraged to buy from the local shops. That seems helpful. On the other hand, could the money just be donated aside from vacationing?
  • How much time? Some argue the port should not be reopened until the country is out of rescue mode and into recovery. But the question here is: What about those in other parts of the country who are still trying to run their businesses to keep Haiti afloat? Is Labadee and the money it provides crucial to holding the country together? If the ship doesn’t go to Labadee it will go elsewhere. Is it better to just go to Labadee?
  • Does the size of the disaster matter? Haiti has been devastated. No question. But what about other parts of the world? People are hungry, thirsty, sick, and without shelter everyday. Yet, we vacation as normal. Where’s the line?

The issue is more in depth than is possible to cover. There is no easy answer to any of these questions. I’ve read several stories where people have decided to go on the cruise. They said when the boat stops in Labadee they’ll just get off and spend some money and get back on the ship. I’m not sure what I would do.

Is it right to vacation in Haiti right now? Does it help more than hurt?

What are your thoughts? Would you go? Should Royal Caribbean still be offering trips to Labadee? Are there other questions to think about? I’d like to hear your thoughts.

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Filed under In the News, poverty

Little Man, Huge Results!

Apparently little guys can do big things! According to MSNBC, Jonathon Slack, a seven-year old boy from the Chicago area, raised four TRUCKLOADS of food and toys for a Chicago shelter. Put simply: WOW.

You can read the story on the news site. I don’t want to steal their words and just rehash it. Instead, I just want to offer some thoughts I took away from reading about our young hero.

First, what he did was hard difficult impossible easy. I’m big, bad Becoming Last guy and this kid just did what I have started and gotten side-tracked doing twice! He saw a need, printed some flyers, gave them out, and bam! Four truckloads! I get caught up in making the flyer perfect, getting all my ducks in a row, and he just stepped out and did it. There’s something to be said for planning, but there’s also something to be said for just doing it. What he did was something we could all do.

Second, it got personal. Jonathon’s mom said he had never shown empathy for this type of thing before. It all developed after seeing a homeless woman outside of Macy’s. It got personal for him. I think we all have up these layers of protection from things like this. We’ve built thick skins from seeing impoverished people on TV, in magazines, and homeless people on the street. Poverty and hurting people are just a category that is out there. It’s part of life. But when an issue hits you personally, it changes you.

Third, start small. Yes, he got four truckloads. But he only took ten days! 10 days = 4 truckloads! I think we sometimes feel a little overwhelmed when we think about serving or giving. Don’t feel like you have to end poverty or hunger or homelessness or whatever your cause. Just start small. He made flyers. He gave people 10 days. Look what happened.

Fourth, just do it! Yeah, so I robbed Nike’s old slogan and that’s lame, but I’m serious. If you have an idea, do it. Pursue it. Get a few friends together. Hold a family meeting. You don’t have to get your church’s backing or the backing of an organization. Sure, they can help and that could come later, but don’t be paralyzed by the mindset of, “I can’t do this” or “I can’t lead.” Just start small. Whatever it is you are passionate about, it is you that has the passion and just like Jonathon, you can make a difference.

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Filed under hunger, In the News, selflessness, Uncategorized

Unleash Your Inner Nerd!

If you know me well enough or have followed my blog long enough, you think are fairly certain know beyond a shadow of a doubt I’m a nerd. I admit it openly. I like books. I like crosswords (even ones where I have to look up stuff and learn! ugh…). My wife and I play Scrabble on Facebook…while sitting in the same room (I know, I know…).

If the above doesn’t prove my supreme nerdability, check this out. At a New Year’s Eve Party…yes, a New Year’s Eve Party, I got sucked into figuring out the probability of something happening in a game of farkle (I thought about trying to explain myself at this point, but there’s no use…nothing can explain doing statistics on New Year’s Eve…although I did get the problem right!).

You may also know I care about helping people. At heart, I’m a very selfish person. I catch myself being selfish all the time. But I try (and this blog helps) to serve others as often as I can.

Which brings me to FreeRice. I recommended this site a long time ago, but I completely missed a key part of the site! What? I said I’m a nerd, not observant! 🙂

FreeRice lets you play a game answering vocab questions and for every answer you get right they donate 10 grains of rice. That may not sound like much, but with a ginormous (you may think that’s a new vocab word, but I learned that from the movie Elf…)  amount of people playing, 63,672,800 grains of rice were donated yesterday. That’s awesome.

Now, the part I missed. What I didn’t realize was you can change from vocab to all kinds of different subjects: Art, Chemistry, English, Math, Geography, even foreign language learning! The nerd in me is as excited as this woman.

So instead of playing another game of Bejeweled, Mafia Wars, Zuma, etc. take a swing at the FreeRice game and help spread some free food to those who need it.

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Filed under Uncategorized

Steps Toward Change

Not many people would say, “I don’t care if people don’t have food or water.” I hope I’m not too far off in believing most of us genuinely want to help people out. The problem is our lives aren’t oriented in such a fashion where that is possible.

Many of us spend so much time working because we’ve made financial decisions which dictate us working X amount of hours to pay for everything. Right or wrong, we’re hindered by those decisions. Our entertainment also takes up our time. There’s hardly a passion you could name which could not be satisfied within hours in America. Because of this, we spend a lot of our time feeding those passions. Again, not necessarily a bad thing, but time consuming.

My point is this: If you want to begin helping others, begin making one intentional decision in that direction each day.

Change rarely occurs overnight. We have developed our patterns of behavior over the course of our entire lives! Rarely does that change automatically. It’s a process. It’s a set of determined, thought out decisions that eventually became the rhythm of your life.

So where can you begin today? What can you do tomorrow? If you’re at a loss, take some time and explore other posts as you may find some encouragement or inspiration.

What does the symphony of your life sound like? The best orchestra did not get that way overnight. It took years and years of practice. How can you begin to intentionally move yourself in the direction of Becoming Last?

6 Comments

Filed under christian, making a difference, selflessness, Time

Tuesday!

I thought I’d post some takeaways from Nikki’s post. Some things I learned or thought about while reading:

  1. What is Passion? – She shared she had a passion for humanitarian work, specifically for working with children. I think her life reflects that. Though I began to wonder if I really am passionate about the things I think I am. For example, my wife and I are reorganizing our finances because we want to live better. We’re sacrificing right now so we can live better later. That indicates I’m passionate about living a financially sound life. I’m willing to sacrifice. The question I have to ask myself is: Would I put the same effort into raising money or awareness for other things I claim to be passionate about (such as children living in hunger/poverty?) I don’t think it’s bad to live well because I’m making sound financial choices, but I wonder if I would make those same choices if I received none of the benefit.
  2. Out of the Comfort Zone – Nikki said she couldn’t get the kids out of her head when she came back to the states. Her world had been rocked with what she had witnessed on her trip. There’s something to be said for getting out of your comfort zone. Our priorities/thoughts/actions/motivations tend to change when our eyes are opened to stuff we’re not used to seeing. This makes me even more ready to take a trip overseas sometime soon to help with relief.
  3. Small Sacrifices – I’m glad she mentioned making small sacrifices like forgoing one meal out a week to give toward some project you care about. Like I said, I want to go overseas. I want to help people, but life can be constraining and so until I go I can begin to make small sacrifices. Even if it helps one child, it’s beyond worth it to that child. No amount of compassion is insignificant. No gift or sacrifice is too small. We can all begin to take baby steps in the direction of Becoming Last.
  4. Be a Freak – Some people aren’t going to understand why you do what you do. Friends may not understand why you’d rather not eat out or see the latest movie. Family may not want you to take a trip overseas. But I would encourage you, if you are called, go. Specifically, as a Christian, God calls us to be his hands and feet by loving/sacrificing/serving people. Are we heeding that call?

Well, I hope her post was encouraging and inspiring to you. I enjoy hearing about people’s experiences and their perspective on Becoming Last. I’m not sure what’s ahead for the week. I bought a book last night I hope to recommend to you after I finish it. It’s got potential. Until then…

How can you Become Last today?

2 Comments

Filed under christian, General Update, poverty, Serving Others

More to Life

Nikki and Frankel and Mother Theresa's Hospital in Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Nikki and Frankel and Mother Theresa's Hospital in Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Becoming Last welcomes Nikki!

Last week I got an email from a fellow blogger, Matt, asking me to guest blog on his own blog, Becoming Last. Also eager to communicate with other like-minded bloggers, and to share my experiences, of course I agreed. Maybe I should start this guest post by introducing myself… My name is Nikki Cochrane, and I am a 20 year old student in my last year of the cultural anthropology program at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. My passion in life is one thing, and it seems to consume my every thought; humanitarian work. Throughout most of teenage and adult life I have volunteered and sponsored children, but I knew it was what I wanted to do with my life the summer after my grade 12 year when I first went to the Dominican Republic. I went with an organization called Hero Holiday (www.heroholiday.com); working in and around Sosua… building schools, helping in an orphanage for handicapped children, and learning just a little bit about the Dominican and Haitian people with whom I was working. When I got home, I cried for a week. I couldn’t get the kids’ faces out of my head, and every time I opened my fridge and saw food (some that wouldn’t even be eaten), I was overcome with a sense of guilt. I knew I had to do more. The following summer I returned to the DR again with Hero Holiday, this time for a month. Every day of the month brought moments and experiences that even further changed me and my perceptions on life. The following February sent me to Ethiopia, Africa. I worked in an orphanage for HIV+ children, was able to meet my World Vision sponsor child, Tsehay, and taught English classes to children who were very eager to learn. I ate injera and dora wat for the first time and learned how to maneuver through a bustling African market. This past summer, I spent two months in the Dominican Republic again; the place I call my second home! I was able to spend a few days in its neighboring country as well, Haiti, working mostly in a hospital for children, most of whom are dying or very sick from malnutrition. The first time I walked into the hospital I was so overcome with emotion that I had to step back out, after seeing a 6 year old, Frankel, so skinny and lethargic he could barely lift his head. I was shocked when I heard him speak, for he was so tiny he looked like he would be too young even to know how to talk. I later learned he was 6 years old… I hugged him very tightly after that and hoped he could feel my love.

I am not sure exactly what the future is going to bring for me, but I know there are going to be big changes in my life. I will be heading back to the DR for 2 weeks over Christmas, and then moving there in May when I am done University. My life has been changed in so many ways because of this work, but it is not without its struggles. There are some parts of my life where I have to make sacrifices, and although it is all worth it, it is difficult at times. Money is one of those sacrifices, and it leads me to pinching every penny just to afford to live when I am in the DR. I have drifted apart from some friends, who don’t understand the way I feel about life now. It has even caused some conflicts with my family members, who are hesitant about seeing me leave. But when I look at the big picture, I couldn’t be happier. I know that with every sacrifice I make, there is a bigger purpose behind it. Something much bigger than just me, and my own little Canadian bubble. There is much more to the world than many people think, and I believe it is up to each of us to do our part in making the lives of those struggling a little easier… a little happier.

If you want to read more about my work, you can check out my blog at www.heroholiday07.blogspot.com I also have a fundraising blog, www.madebynikki.blogspot.com where I design blogspot blogs to raise money for my travel and living expenses.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this post! I hope that it will inspire you to think twice the next time you spend $10 at McDonalds, or your toonie on a coffee. There are so many needs in the world; children that need to be fed, that need to go to school, that need uniforms, clothes, shoes, clean water, education… YOU can make a difference, even if it is in just ONE child’s life. I will finish by leaving you with my favorite story. It has inspired me and is something that I find myself reading during the times when I feel unsure…

Once upon a time, there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work.
One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of someone who would dance to the day, and so, he walked faster to catch up.
As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, and that what he was doing was not dancing at all. The young man was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean.
He came closer still and called out “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?”
The young man paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean.”
“I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?” asked the somewhat startled wise man.
To this, the young man replied, “The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them in, they’ll die.”
Upon hearing this, the wise man commented, “But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can’t possibly make a difference!”
At this, the young man bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said, “I made a difference to that one!”

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Filed under Examples of Sacrifice, General Update, Uncategorized, Websites

Turning Lemons into Lives

I found a cool story in the Vitamin Angels newsletter this month. I love hearing about kids Becoming Last. Here’s the story:

Lemonade for Vitamin Angels

What’s better than lemonade on a hot summer day? Lemonade for a great cause!

8 year old Declan set up a lemonade stand to help teach others about our important work and raised $50! Remember, all it takes is 25 cents to provide one child with vitamin A for a whole year. So in one afternoon, this one child was able to impact the lives of 200 children, and refresh many passersby at the same time! Inspired yet? Get Involved!

What a great example for kids who want to help! Simple, small, yet significant. He helped 200 kids. Awesome! Don’t forget to click our “Help Now” button on the right of the page and have a great Saturday!

3 Comments

Filed under Examples of Sacrifice, Making God Known, Uncategorized, vitamin angels