28 June 2017

Happy Birthday to my Hero

We all have a hero.

You know, those larger-than-life, amazing super-humans that change-the-world or save-the-day.  We hear a lot about celebrities or athletes, authors or activists.  Someone to aspire to be like . . . the ultimate achiever of our own personal goals.  You know, someone remarkable.

We all have a hero.

Even me.

My hero's name is Liz.  And today is her birthday.

In 2004 I spent a month in Durban, South Africa.  I was doing a photography project documenting an organization's summer internship and short-term volunteer program.  It was great fun and I met some amazing people!

While there, one of the side projects I was asked to do was to put together a little fundraising pamphlet for a Baby House in great need of expanding (a Baby House is intended to be a temporary home for orphaned and abandoned kiddos).  I put together something simple, but the photos of these children stayed with me.

I went back to the States and completed my first year of my Occupational Therapy program.  But I just couldn't forget those precious faces.

So, I pulled out the pamphlet I made and sent an email of inquiry to a woman named Liz.

Liz and her husband made their happy cozy life in a little town snuggled at the edge of the magnificent Drakensburg mountain range.  But one day, her life was interrupted and forever altered: they were asked to take in an abandoned baby.

Eventually one baby turned into several and they knew they couldn't do this alone.  She pulled together friends from her church and community, who chipped in to help establish the local Child & Welfare Society.

Property was bought and the houses that stood on it were used to take in and care for babies, toddlers and children who were continually being found abandoned on the side of the road or left behind by parents who had succumbed to the AIDS virus.

Liz, and those who have walked with her over the years, have saved countless lives.  One house turned into half a dozen, and a shelter for older boys to keep them off the streets and give them a chance at education and a future.

She had raised her own kids, and ran her own business . . . but she couldn't neglect the needs that surrounded her.  She didn't wait for someone else to solve the problem.

I have never met anyone so remarkable, who asks for nothing in return, and seeks no applause.

So, happy birthday, my dear friend!  As Mama and Aunty to hundreds, you truly are "one for whom the world is not worthy."

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