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Today in My History

2000:  Time for an Upgrade
The Magic of The Last Session
Attack of the Killer Dildos
Imaginary Friends
Harry, Hagrid & Weasley
The Gilbert Dinner

I'll Never Eat at Howard Johnson's Again
2008:   Grandpa

2009:   Changing Tastes

Same Job, New Stage
(feature story)
Crazy for You

Books Read in 2010
Updated: 7/7
Madonnas of Leningrad"
"7th Heaven"

Recipes for Cousins Day Drinks
(updated 3/17/10)

And Then I Ate


Kizhi Island from Bev Sykes on Vimeo.

On You Tube

Look at these Videos

Mitzi Gaynor said WHAT?

Spirit of '43
Ned's Video for Bri's 2nd birthday
No You Can't (John Boehner)
Jim Brochu closes NASDAQ
Stupid, Callous, Homophobic, Hateful Legislation

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Tallinn, Estonia

The Hermitage
The Catherine Palace (Pushkin)
Kizhi Island
Food on the Trip

Mirror Site for RSS Feed
Airy Persiflage

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14 July 2010

It was a couple of weeks ago that Steve alerted the masses on Facebook of an upcoming HBO special called "One Small Act."  I immediately set the DVR to record it and watched it last night.  It is an amazing film.

OneSmallAct.jpg (26150 bytes)It tells the story of Chris Mburu, a child from a rural Kenyan village, and how his life was changed by a woman named Hilde Beck, living in Sweden.  It shows how a very small act of kindness can have a profound effect on the world.

Hilde had been relocated to Sweden during World War II.   Both of her parents died in concentration camps. 

When she was an adult, she heard about a program where she could sponsor a child in Kenya for what amounted to about $15 a month and she signed on to sponsor Chris.  The film doesn't say whether this program was strictly monetary or whether, like Compassion, Int'l, the sponsors had any opportunity to communicate with the child they were sponsoring.

Hilde's sponsorship of Chris allowed him to attend secondary school.  He went on to graduate from Harvard and to become a Human Rights lawyer for the United Nations.

Hilde.jpg (45162 bytes)He lost contact with Hilde (if he ever had direct contact), presumably when he graduated from secondary school.  But he never forgot that she was the person who permitted him to be living the life that he lives now.  And so he went back to his village in Kenya and he started a foundation which provided scholarships to promising students so that they, too, could go to secondary school and get a leg up on a better life.

He called his foundation "The Hilde Beck Educational Foundation," to honor the woman who had helped him.

At some point he tried to find her and, thanks to his connections he was successful.  She was astonished to meet him and even more astonished at his accomplishments and on learning that there was a foundation named for her in Kenya.  She was able to travel to Kenya and meet many students who were being helped by the Hilde Beck Educational Foundation.

The film traces the story of three of the students vying for scholarships from the foundation, the unrest in Kenya at the time of the filming and what happens to the students when none of them receive grades high enough to permit them to move on.

You'll laugh and you'll cry.

But mostly you'll be amazed at what kind of impact something that seems so small can potentially have on the world.  The lives of poor children in one whole region of rural Kenya have been changed for the better because 20 years or so ago, a woman named Hilde Beck decided to send $15 a month to a young boy she never thought she would meet.

When we set out to do an act of kindness, whether for a neighbor or for someone we have never met, we have no idea what we are unleashing.   It may be that nothing changes, or it may be that we have started a profound change.  We may never know what we have set in motion or we may be lucky, like Ms. Beck, and have the opportunity to see the fruits of our small contribution.

There are lots and lots of organizations that help children all over the world, some here in the United States, others in other countries.  Some of these organizations are reputable and I'm sure there are some which are not. 

I'm not the standard bearer for Compassion International.   I chose it because it encouraged sponsors to communicate with children that they were sponsoring and, being a letter writer by nature, I liked that feature.  But it could just as easily have been any one of a number of organizations.  Compassion's religious component is not comfortable for me, but I like the organization.  I just can't "talk the talk" that most of the sponsors talk.

It costs more than $15 a month now to sponsor a child and these are financially hard times for us in this country, but when you watch the film and you see the reality of life in rural Kenya and know that it is probably better than some places and worse than others, is $30 a month, or whatever it costs, that big a sacrifice?

I may never meet the children I am sponsoring and that's fine.  They may never go on to achieve the kind of level of education that Chris Mburu has achieved either, and that's fine too.  But I am happy to have the opportunity, however small, to make some sort of an impact on their lives...to let them know that somewhere in the world a person they will probably never meet cares about them and hopes that they will work hard to succeed in making a better life for themselves.

If you ever have the opportunity to see this film, I highly recommend it...and I also recommend thinking about what small thing you can do to make one little corner of the world, whether on your block or half a globe away, just a little bit better. 

Even if it's only adopting a puppy  :)

Today's trip video is from Kizhi Island, my favorite stop on the trip.


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Kimani, one of the students in the film


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