As we approach Christmastide, people’s thoughts always turn to helping others. I’ve been fortunate over the last several years to see how a spirit of generosity in this country can directly impact for good the lives of people far away, and change the world for the better. So I’m taking a step back from the usual art world chatter to ask you to consider a group of people who really need your help, where you be able to actually see the good that you do as it quite literally takes root.
Over the past dozen years, Father Bill Ryan has done unbelievable work on behalf of the people in a remote part of Togo in West Africa, both Catholics and non-Catholics alike. I’ve been fortunate enough to meet him several times, when he comes to my parish of St. Stephen’s in DC to ask for our support. In addition to providing for their spiritual needs, Father Bill and those helping at the mission have created the area’s first primary health care clinic; dug eleven fresh water wells in the local villages (where previously only muddy and bacteria-ridden river water was available); opened six primary schools and one middle school; obtained farming equipment for the local subsistence farmers to process their own flour and oil; and much more.
You can read all about this on the mission’s website, which includes written reports, photos, video, and links showing the remarkable changes that have been wrought for these very poor people. I mean, these grade school kids who had never been able to attend school before are really, really cute. And when is the last time that you were filled with such joy because you had clean water to drink?
I hope you’ll join me this Christmas in supporting a new project that the mission is undertaking to provide a sustainable source of income for the local people. They’re seeking to plant a teak tree farm, which will provide renewable resources in the form of teak lumber: that super-hard, durable wood used to build quality outdoor furniture or that you see covering the floors and walls of high-end homes and hotels. A single teak tree seedling costs only $1, but a farm full of teak trees – which regrow from their roots after the trunks are harvested – should help to sustain these people for generations, whatever may happen to their other crops.
For more information and to donate, please visit this site. If you aren’t in a position to help out financially yourself, please do me a favor and share this post via social media and email with anyone whom you think may be interested in lending a hand. And above all, please keep the mission in your prayers. Thank You!