I have a knack for killing plants. As the Fall season grows colder, I can’t bear to throw away thriving plants so I bring them inside, only to watch them slowly fade, drop leaves and eventually die. Take these beautiful plants out of their optimum environment, and they no longer thrive.
I have a jasmine plant, however, I’ve managed to keep alive for several years. Every summer, it gets a burst of green leaves and fragrant blooms. Every fall, I bring it inside, it drops its leaves and barely survives ‘til spring. I hang onto this jasmine because I know, if I can keep it alive, there is a wonderful plant there inside ready to again flood my deck garden with intoxicating fragrance. The jasmine’s beauty is lying dormant waiting for the right environment.
One day it dawned on me that people are like that. We need the right environment of safety, nourishment and opportunity to thrive and become who we were created to be. None of us had a choice where we were born. We didn’t get to choose our skin color or how much money our family had. If you or I had been born in a developing country without access to educational resources or the financial means to secure food or shelter, who knows how different our lives would be? We might have been like my poor jasmine plant during the winter months: All potential, but little actual beauty.
“What do you want to be when you grow up?” I asked this of a shy little 10 year old girl who I met during a visit to Belize where I worked at a camp teaching English to Spanish-speaking kids. The girl attracted my attention as I observed how patiently she helped her developmentally challenged sister. I also noticed how quickly she grasped the language skills that were being taught, and I couldn’t ignore her sweet smile.
She answered, “Maybe a store clerk, I hope so.” Those words haunted me when I returned to the U.S. So much potential lay dormant in this lovely little girl, but because she was born in a country where education wasn’t free and her family couldn’t afford her schooling, that potential was likely to go unfulfilled. Not long after, having discovered a sponsorship program providing for the education of Belizean children, I quickly committed resources on her behalf.
For years we wrote letters to one another, but I can’t begin to tell you the joy I experienced this past summer when I was able to meet her once again face to face! She had blossomed into a lovely young lady who was now in High School. After inquiring about her life and her family, I asked the question anxiously at work in my heart and mind: “What are you hoping to be when you graduate?”
Her response? “I’m thinking about becoming a pharmacist, or perhaps even a doctor.” YES!! This was music to my ears. With access to an education and other significant resources, her potential was being allowed to show itself in all its beauty, and in that beauty, her hopes and dreams had also become so much more colorful!
I think of all the women in developing countries who partner with Elevet; beautiful souls with so much to offer if only they are provided the environment necessary to thrive and make use of their gifts and abilities. I love that Elevat gives these women an opportunity to reveal the true beauty they possess and earn a better living through their skills and creativity. What treasures lie hidden inside each one of us, simply waiting for the warmth and light of the sun to bring them to life!