Monday, January 17, 2011

They have a dream

It seems appropriate on this day we honor the life legacy of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr to talk about dreams. Not the kind you have at night which may or may not make any sense at all, but the kind you have when you are awake and imagining something in the future that seems a bit - or a lot - out of reach. These are the dreams that make you stretch for something good and wonderful on the horizon ahead of you.

Most of us had aspirations as children that may or may not have come true in our adult life. I once wanted to be an airline stewardess. And then a figure skater. And then a dolphin trainer at Sea World. I am none of those things as a grown-up but I am okay with that. I like being a writer. The point isn't that I had dreams and they didn't come true but that I dreamed. 

A few days ago when the CEO of Oasis Haven, Beth Gillig (pictured above with her godchild), and I had coffee during her Christmas break here in the states, she told me many of the children who come to Oasis Haven have never dreamt of the future. Day-to-day survival was the only thing on their minds. In fact, she said, some African dialects have no word for "dream." There are little ones in South Africa who never dream of the future because they can only imagine getting through today.

That's why I am so excited to raise money during my Jubilee year for the therapies these children will have at Oasis Haven as they are restored to wholeness. At Oasis Haven, these kids are introduced to the marvel of dreaming about the future, about imagining life as a grown-up - a concept that is as normal to most American children as peanut butter and jelly sandwiches but that is foreign to the orphans of Johannesburg.

Hear this from Beth: "Regularly we depend on the generosity and expertise of medical professionals to help us care for the needs of the children at Oasis Haven.  General practitioners, virologists, and various specialists have enabled us to make sure that no illness, no medical concern has gone ignored.  They have helped us ensure a bright and unlimited future for our children. 

After visiting the pulmonologist with Lerato (not her real name) for the third time this month, I decided to take her for a milkshake.  I asked about her dreams, what she wanted her life to look like some day.  Her reply: “I want to live in a purple house…and my husband will be a prince with triangle hair.”  An adorable story of hope from a child who has a full future ahead of her."

I love that story. It makes me smile. I can imagine a purple house and a prince with triangle hair. Can't you?

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