How Can You Help?

Today is cold and wet, and though the lilacs are in full bloom,
it is hard to believe that spring is possible. By the same token,
though I believe we humans can evolve from fear and terror to
compassion and courage, the seemingly endless bad news makes its
hard to keep the faith. I’ve drawn hope lately from hearing about
people who simply set out to do what they can to fill a need. I’ll
share a few of those stories, with the conviction that helping
others is a potent source of the creative energy we need to meet
the challenges of our world.

The Beaders Tale

TWO WOMEN FROM COLORADO, Torkin Wakefield and Ginny Jordan, were
visiting a slum in Kampala, Uganda, where refugees from the
country’s civil war were living in a mud village called the Acholi
Quarter. A woman making beads from strips of recycled magazines
explained to them that she, like many others, dreamt of finding a
market for their simple yet beautiful handiwork. Torkin and Ginny
bought a few samples and found that others liked the colorful
jewelry as well. They returned to the quarter and gathered 60
beaders, hoping to turn the beads into a local export business. Two
years later, there are several hundred families that participate in
Bead for Life (www.beadforlife.com). including many beaders who are
HIV positive. The collaboration has created scholarships, reduced
malaria rates, improved housing, built a new center for the beading
business — and, most important, fostered a hopeful sense of
connection within the community and across continents.

Look for their handiwork in our new and improved online
store at www.utne.com this
fall.

Boats Of Hope

‘TWO WEEKS AFTER the tsunami,’ Kate Priest recently told me by
email, ‘my friend Steve Malkenson and I flew to Thailand just on
our gut instincts that we could help. Everyone told us not to go.’
And for a few days wandering around Bangkok and the tourist haven
of Phuket, it seemed their advisors had been right. ‘We simply
could not connect and were even told that the relief efforts were
done,’ Kate wrote. ‘The only work left was forensics and body
identification.’

But instead of leaving, they focused deeply on the intention to
help that drew them to Thailand. Three days later, Kate and Steve
found themselves in a fishing village north of Phuket that had been
ravaged by the waves, losing 40 members and 20 boats. Kate and
Steve helped the villagers launch the Waves of Hope Boat Building
Project. The latest word is that the village has completed seven
new boats and refurbished seven others, with the entire fleet
scheduled to be back in the water by the end of August.

Code Pink In Print

IN NOVEMBER 2002, I joined a group of women at the start of a
four-month vigil outside the White House. We called ourselves
CodePink as a spoof on George Bush’s color-coded security system,
as a play on the alarm sounded when a child is abducted from a
hospital (drawing an analogy to the theft of our children’s
futures) — and as a playful way of celebrating the feminine
nurturing of life. We couldn’t prevent the war in Iraq, but
CodePink has touched many lives, with over 100 chapters in this
country, others overseas, and a lot of media attention. CodePink
has taken groups to Afghanistan, Iraq, and Iran. (Marla Ruzicka,
who was killed by a car bomb in Iraq in April, committed herself to
bringing attention to the war’s civilian casualties after a
CodePink trip.) Now CodePink is publishing a book, Stop the
Next War Now: Effective Responses to Violence and Terrorism

(Inner Ocean, 2005), edited by CodePink co-founders Jodie Evans and
Medea Benjamin
(www.codepinkalert.org).
More than 70 contributors (I’m honored to be among them) offer
their prescriptions for peace. I can guarantee you that opening it
to almost any page will deepen your commitment to peacemaking.

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