This is a guest post by Michele Laverty. She is part of the Beyond Asana group; a philanthropic group of yogis committed to raising $100,000 this year to build two schools in Nicaragua. We´re so excited about their efforts and about the schools they will be building next year! To learn more about the fundraising efforts, please visit Michelle´s Beyond Asana fundraising page here.
I believe that the decisions I make for my son’s education are fundamentally linked to my own upbringing and access to education. His opportunities have expanded exponentially because of my experiences, and he is thriving. This is not always true for many people living in poverty in the U.S. and around world. An opportunity deficit and lack of access to education perpetuates the cycle of poverty for almost a billion people in the world. How are we were born into neighborhoods with fortuitous circumstances and others are not so lucky? What if my son was born elsewhere? Should he be deprived opportunities because of his geography? Should any child?
The playing field needs to be leveled, and it’s time to pay our good fortune forward.
After listening to Jim Ziolkowski share his stories from his new book, Walk In Their Shoes, one thing became apparent: People living in some of the most economically poor counties in the world desire education and literacy for their children as much as I desire it for my own child. And, while society at large hungers for educational, spiritual, and social advancement, here at home there seems to be a growing number of disenfranchised inner city youth. There are intractable problems that challenge us in both rural villages and in our own U.S. inner cities. I believe we need to do something to help meet these challenges both here at home and abroad.
While in the midst of a career change, I was invited to raise funds and travel to Nicaragua to assist a remote village build a school. Without doubt, I support literacy and education, as my new chosen profession is to be a teacher. However, I’ve been challenged in my pursuit of my new profession because of the real and dark challenges prominent in our school system.
I believe that my purpose as a teacher needs to be defined and grounded before committing to my students. If not, I’ll be sure to stumble and my students would lose. BuildOn’s Global Ambassador Trek is helping me define my purpose through creativity, determination, and an expanding passion to be part of something bigger than myself. By raising funds through various means I am deepening connections within my community and understanding more about my direction. This campaign includes selling extraneous household items and my own artwork, partnering with local artists, businesses and restaurants, a yoga party, a dinner party, selling lemonade with my son and more.
To me, the most comic fundraiser was the sale of rocks I purged from my garden shed. Three buckets brought in $27. It amuses me to think that in a few months I’ll be in Nicaragua digging up and breaking similar stones for the new school’s foundation.
The most inspiring and touching fundraising events were with my son’s Kindergarten class. Initially, we made friendship bracelets and sent good wishes to other buildOn schools. When it was time to raise funds, the children eagerly worked together to transplant seedlings, tend and watch them grow. They then sold them to their school community. Given a reason to contribute, I saw the hope and idealism in these young people ignite. Their enthusiasm was uplifting. The children enjoyed being involved while learning about another culture. In turn, this filled me with joy and direction. Months later, families are sharing stories and pictures of their blooms. I am comforted and determined knowing that these children have had positive experiences serving others. Giving back with meaning has successfully been integrated into their being.
When true to myself, my events are most successful. I now realize that as a teacher it is my responsibility to show students the joy and community in service. I am also determined to empower them to be genuine. I’ve yet to travel to Nicaragua, but I am now confident I have much to offer future generations both here and abroad.