Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Spotlight on Stella

So lately we've been looking through a lot of pictures that we've taken during the last 5-7 years and I've been having a great time thinking back to those moments and reliving the conversations, sights, smells, and feeling of that time. I thought it would be kind of fun to document some of them and sort of do a spotlight every once in a while on those people.

So the first person I chose is Stella.

I met Stella and a bunch of her peers in July 2008 on a trip to Cameroon,  Africa. Stella started off being the shyest of the entire bunch. She was 13 and below is a pic of her and some other teenagers/tweens.
Lower Left Side
Stella was a at camp that we were volunteering at. She is the only girl in her family, with 3 or 4 brothers. Because boys/men are often thought of as more important in many countries, Stella had to wait to enter school until all of her brothers were able to get through it. School is not free in many parts of Africa so often children only go if their families can afford it. Many girls complete less school than boys, and most often go on to further job/specialty training such as being a seamstress or teaching in a school.
This is her and one of her best friends. Her friend had the privilege of attending school from the time she was very young. When I was talking to her friend, she said that she was entering Class 13 soon. This, I understood, was like later American High School, and she was only 13 years old! Stella was to be starting Class 1 the next year, which is 1st grade equivalent in the US. It's just crazy to me to think of how different their lives have been and will be. Best friends, both 13, in two different worlds educationally, and hopefully both with bright futures ahead of them. 

I was drawn to Stella at the beginning of this day and she started out being super shy. At one point in the day, the girls changed from their dress clothes to play clothes, and I saw a transformation in her personality. She was laughing, being silly, and being a completely outgoing 13 year old girl. I couldn't stop taking pictures. :)

 The last two pictures they are waiting for water balloons that were being launched. :) Totally new experiences for these unexpected campers!
I'll never know what Stella's future has in store for her. I  hope and pray that she is surrounded by positive support and love and is given the encouragement she needs. She is just one of the MANY faces I met on this trip, and one that had a large impact on me. 
I think it's crazy to think of where we are born. There are hundreds of thousands of children less fortunate than her, and I think we can play a part in their lives. I was born into a country that has freedom, a family that was supportive, an education system that was free, and had a fair opportunity to attend many colleges. I had access to food, clean water, medical care, etc. I feel that I personally have a role to play in children's lives around the world. Whether that be providing them mosquito nets or vaccines, medical care, money for education, clean water, food, safety from slavery and injustice,  love and support. For people here in the US and around the world. 
Check into some non-profits and you'll see they're doing these things! :) You can choose a program that does many of these things like World Vision or Compassion International or others out there that are more specific for providing water, or saving from slavery, etc. Start making a difference today.

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