You don’t always have to follow your passion, but whatever you do, by all means bring it along. – Mike Rowe, Dirty Jobs
I was reminded of this quote by my father in an email recently, and though I don’t often need reminding to be passionate, it was timely advice. It was timely because I’m doing lots of administrative, supportive tasks for my internship right now, and though I’m extremely happy to be doing them, it’s good to remember that being passionate about something also requires holding yourself to a certain standard. It would be easy for me to get through the work I’m being given, not really giving it all of my attention, looking forward instead to the months to come when I’ll be doing more active field work. That’s a cop out though. I love and am inspired by the work GWED-G does every single day. I am beyond privileged to be here, learning from them, and being passionate about my work also requires that I strive for excellence. I might not be passionate necessarily about annual reports or internal databanks or fundraising campaigns individually, but it’s essential that I bring my passion along when I’m doing those things. They contribute to the strength and efficacy of the organization as a whole, and with that in mind, nothing less than above and beyond will do.
GWED-G is headquartered in Gulu town, which is an interesting place. It is dusty, usually hot, sprawling, spread out, obviously underdeveloped, pot-holed, worn, poor, and completely street-light free. For me, it was love at first sight. There’s something about the city that pulls you in. Though the effects of the recent war are evident in the lacking infrastructure, abandoned buildings, and poverty, there’s such a gritty, earthy beauty about the city as a whole. There aren’t many buildings over 3 or 4 stories here, and the effect on your view of the sky is amazing: it always seems too huge for reality. There are no streetlights to speak of, and at night there simply isn’t much light at all. Combined with the potholes, it makes for risky strolling when you’re out without a light, but it also means that the stars shine here like nowhere else I’ve ever seen. The people pull you in and make you fall in love for all the same reasons. The kindness and openness I’ve received, the polite greetings and warm welcomes, despite the trauma people have experienced humbles me. They have a way of making you want to give everything you have in pursuit of justice, reconciliation, and reconstruction. I was toast from the moment I stepped off the bus. I’m here for 6 months, and during that time, every last drop of energy, creativity, and passion I have is theirs. What else could I do? I’m bringing my passion along, and I have a feeling that my heart will never be the same.
My biggest project currently is raising $5,000 by the end of October to bring a freelance media team from the US to cover the work GWED-G is doing. The guy is a good friend of mine, and the last documentary short he worked on was nominated for an Oscar. He’s offered to do the project for free – they’re donating the equipment and their time, but we still need to foot the bill for flights, in-country transportation, food, and accommodation. For that, it will cost $5,000….and it’s my job to get it.
Oh, $5000? Ok, no problem. Be right back.
$5000 in two months….whew. Ok. Now that I’m over the initial anxiety of raising that much money that quickly (there was plenty of anxiety), I’m getting down to work being obnoxious. Emails and Facebook messages galore! I’m sure there is a person or two out there just shaking their head at me and my crazy quest, but I’m hoping that the majority will be with me on it. It might be ambitious, but I believe whole-heartedly that it’s worth the trouble, anxiety, and effort. GWED-G is changing lives, and people need to know about it. Above all, I believe that people are basically good, that humanity is a beautiful thing, and that evil, violence, and cruelty come from not nurturing that basic human beauty enough. GWED-G is working to change the tide in Northern Uganda toward love, peace, and protected rights. There is no higher calling, and they need a bigger spotlight. I’m going to give it to them…..as soon as I can raise $5000. Ha.
If you’d like to join me in my quest to give greater recognition to these people who work every day to banish the bad and nurture the good, please visit my Indigogo campaign page. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.