Last weekend I drove Elise, my oldest daughter, seven hours to where she will start going to college. It makes me feel old, not to mention very nostalgic and reflective. My little girl…how can it be that she is not little any more? I try not to worry, but to trust that she will make right choices as she ventures into a life on her own.
- I took this picture of Manha and thought about the intense difference between her possibilities and those of my daughter, Elise. I asked myself what it means to love her like I love Elise, and that is why I wrote this letter.
As I reflect, I can’t help but ask myself if I have made all the right decisions. Did I teach her the right values? Did I establish healthy boundaries? Have I raised her in a way that has equipped her to make it on her own in the adult world? Have I showed her that what matters most is love, courage, faith, forgiveness, generosity, and honesty? Will she live according to these values, or will she be led by the world that tells her that what matters the most is your looks, your clothes, your income, and your fame?
Following these thoughts, I remember Manha, a girl I met in West Burma last May who was approximately the same age as Elise. She caught my eye as she served sweet, milky coffee and fried pastries at a teashop near a refugee population. A refugee herself and with few prospects, she carried herself with dignity. She took care of herself, made the best of her circumstances, and she was beautiful; she did not look like a victim.
But she is. She lives surrounded by barbed wire. Her loved ones have been violently abused, even killed, and state authorities deny her the opportunity to attend school. She is extremely vulnerable to human traffickers who prey on kids like her.
With this letter and my personal reflections, I am inviting you to help children like Manha. I invite you like Jesus invites us all when He says, “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.” (Matt 7:12)
My daughter starts college in a free country this week. She can choose to study anything she wants. She has grown up knowing she is loved and appreciated. She has lived a life in luxury compared to most girls in the world her age. I hope that along with my love I have also given her a sense of responsibility to care for others, in less privileged parts of the world, such as Burma.
I hope that rather than just talking about fashion and boys, she will share with her friends what she has been a part of her whole life:
Partners Relief & Development supports more than 9000 teachers who instruct 137,000 children in school each day, runs clinics and mobile medical programs treating thousands of children each year, and organizes maternal health care programs for expecting mothers. We fully fund 16 homes in refugee camps for 900 children who have either lost their parents or have no other secure access to education. These are just the first few vital programs that come to mind.
I taught Elise to ride a bike, fish, rock climb, and love people. Now Elise is off to college with the support of her country, community, family, and her friends. My faith compels me to give Manha and children everywhere the same kind of attention and love I continue to give to my own children.
As I am sending Elise off to the next chapter of her life, I would like to send thousands of other girls off to a life a more hopeful than the one they are living now. I want girls like Manha to attend school in a safe environment, be able to get medical help when needed, to live in their own village without the fear of violence, and to be able to pursue their dreams, just like my daughter, Elise.
If you have children you know exactly what I mean. And if you don’t, I’m sure these words resonate with you just the same. A child should not be raised on a battlefield, in a prison, or as a second-class citizen.
Would you help me please? Join me to give Manha and boys and girls like her the chance to thrive this year.
There are two things I hope everyone who reads these words will do:
Partners for Change are people who commit to a monthly contribution of $30. USD This simple act of generosity is how Partners Relief & Development was started and how we continue to this day. Note that $30. is enough to install 3 toilets, fund two teachers for a year, feed a refugee family for two weeks; it is more than what we need to fully support an orphaned child with everything they need each month (The cost for that is $19.25) Please, join today.
Partners Advocates are our local representatives in the United States. We empower them to speak and host events on behalf of the children we reach out to. Learn more about this program and join today.
If you would like more information, please click here.
Elise will be sharpening her mind and her social skills. I hope she continues to cultivate a deep sense of responsibility to the world we live in and to God who keeps it humming along. I hope this for Manha too. Where she is today, with what she has received, my prayer is that God will bless her and lead her into His kingdom that has come, in part, through us.