Helping others to make a difference

Statistics / Introduction:
Giving yourself to other people and offering your expertise and/or skills to help change their life in any positive way is a profound way to effect the world we live in. Whether you are a coach, a teacher, a counselor, or if you have a heart to give back you can help others, shape our society and will probably grow in the process.

Everybody faces stressful situation, but by developing life skills we are better equipped to handle this difficult period or turn a challenging problem into an opportunity for growth.

  • 75% of the general population experiences at least “some stress” every two weeks
  • Stress contributes to heart disease, high blood pressure, strokes, and other illnesses in many individuals

Most people aspire to be effective in their work efforts, develop good relations and contribute to society. They get a good education, learn important technical skills, and stay up on the latest industry trends. These are all important steps to a person’s success and yet, many people feel repressed, stuck or even marginalized in certain social or economic environments.

Marginalized people who have no opportunities for self-sufficiency become, at a minimum, dependent on charity, welfare or others to cope and face life decisions.  They lose their self-confidence because they cannot be fully self-supporting.  The opportunities denied them also deprive them of the pride of accomplishment which others, who have those opportunities, can develop for themselves.  This in turn can lead to psychological, social / mental health problems or even chemical dependency.

Empowerment is then the process of obtaining these basic opportunities for marginalized people, either directly by those people, or through the help of non-marginalized others who share their own access to these opportunities. It also includes actively thwarting attempts to deny those opportunities. Empowerment includes encouraging, and developing the skills for, self-sufficiency, with a focus on eliminating the future need for charity or welfare in the individuals of the group. This process can be difficult to start and to implement effectively, but together we can make a difference.

Empowerment: Field Studies

Hope & Understanding

by Tiffani Robinson

Some of the most prominent things I can truly recall from this particular day in December is the ridiculously suffocating heat and how I felt. Every recollection stemmed from what and how I felt. That’s what makes the essence of a memory what it is. It’s how we can pinpoint a specific time or moment peppered with so many elements and characters in our recollection… through our feelings.

We had been traveling to various locations the latter part of that morning. Our mission was to empower the children of Reynosa during the holidays. I was overwhelmed with such a childlike joy when we fellowship with the children at a local orphanage. You really do not notice how infectious a smile can be until you are completely consumed by a little girl so fascinated by the design of your fingernails. There was an obvious language barrier but a connection nonetheless and a bond only two fashionable girls with the love of blue nail polish would get. The MegaCARE Team played soccer, participated in various arts & crafts, sung Christmas carols and donated toys from a drive we previously held the month before. The feeling of witnessing the countenance of a child lifted through the simple act of spending time was a gift within itself that gave such an euphorically indescribable feeling to us all. This set the tone for my day. I find that God’s strategy in the order He sets events one experiences in their life will always seem cloudy or irrelevant in the beginning, but its intent revealed when we take the time to reflect. I needed that time to escape into a moment filled with unattested happiness.

The following visit was to a hospital located in the center of Reynosa. We parked near a bustling intersection with various characters speeding by with a tinted cloud of exhaust rising, forming this overcast across the city. The tone similar to the scenery had changed and though I may have not noticed immediately then, I could sense a heaviness as we entered. We made our way to the pediatric emergency room packed with little children and their families. Cries of discomfort and pain pierced the room and then, a moment that seemed somewhat preordained, prayers started to fill the area. The only thing I could relate it to was is if you were outside during noontime as the sun was at its brightest beaming down and out of nowhere a refreshing midst kisses your face, complimented with a cool breeze. Spirits were immediately lifted and laughter evaded the space were hopelessness once resided. Nurses, patients, volunteers dressed as clowns and bystanders who curiosity was completely overtaken all in unison in one memorable moment.

We had one more assignment left. Charged from the blissful events that recently transpired, I was ready to tackle the task head on. We were instructed to bring toys as well as pray for children and their families who were gravely ill at their homes. The very first home we visited was one of many brick-and-mortar, cookie-cutter houses. As we walk up, gifts in hand, we are greeted with smiles and warm hugs from the mother and her two youngest daughters. We exchanged pleasantries and walk into the main room of the house that also stood as their kitchen, bedroom and living room. A frail beautiful young girl sat in the middle of the room, head down, seemingly overwhelmed by the sudden influx of strangers. She had just finished a round of chemo for her osteosarcoma and doctors were trying to save her left leg from amputation where the cancer originally started from. You could see the anguish in her face that she covered with an over-sized hat she put on to hide that she had lost her hair from the therapy. I could only imagine being a preteen remembering the days of my youth, filled with energy and excitement only for it to be thrown in my face as I sit, exhausted watching my younger siblings run around reminding me of a time once passed. Pictures placed in close range of myself with long hair and a smile not knowing that in a few years everything as I knew it would be a distant memory. The volunteers tried their best to bring words of encouragement but she directed her attention down to her pad, avoiding eye contact with everyone in the room. I withdrew myself, not because I didn’t want to pray but because at that moment, I knew exactly how she felt. The team lead and volunteers finished their prayers, gave hugs and well wishes to the family and began to leave. I stayed back, told her I knew what she was going through and offered her my headsets. I figured, she could escape into her music when she was going through chemo or just experiencing a bad day. She could have her own moment. She smiled at me and we parted ways, not knowing if we will ever meet again but I knew she was touched. I know in someway we left an impression on her through the prayers and support from the team but also from the moment between two girls who had an understanding.

 

My wish for her, as well as all the other beautiful souls I encounter through MegaCARE, is that in times of despair they remember the connection we had and hope prevails.

Reynosa, Mexico: Changing the Perception

Almost half of the world’s population faces a scarcity of water

Statistics / Introduction:
There is this preconceived notion of what Mexico is to the rest of the world. A country plagued by past discrepancies and swarms of souls going to great lengths to cross a border into a land full of hope and prosperity. This could not be further from the truth. There is an abundance of cultural richness that resides in the hearts of those who call Mexico home and a pride deeply rooted in tradition reflected in the current generations and those to come.

A team of 15 MegaCARE Volunteers and staff was granted the opportunity to visit and implement programs for Reynosa, Mexico that consisted of a food and clothes distribution this June. Immediately following a 10-hour journey in a van packed full of food supplies, water and willing hearts, we immediately began preparing care packets for the local colonials. Despite the intense humidity and temperatures reaching as high 95 degrees at 9 o’clock in the morning, the MegaCARE Team quickly assembled meal and clothing units that could provide up to 130 families of 4 with supplies for an entire week.

Our destination lie another hour before us over treacherous terrain consisting of unpaved dirt roads and leery alleys. As the vans approached this rural area literally in the middle of nowhere, I noticed large mounds of pepper-colored ash surrounding the entrance with smoke rising up into the sky creating a screen hiding those who inhabit the city. It wasn’t until later that I discovered that the mounds of ash was actually the community’s way of creating charcoal that they sold to surrounding areas as their livelihood. Our team conducted two empowerment sessions, one for the adults as well as one for the children that consisted of games, arts & crafts and educational projects. After the conclusion of the sessions, we began delivering the food packets and opened our mobile closet to the families for their choice of clothing articles.

These endearing souls were beautiful inside and out–from their sun-kissed faces that expressed such heartfelt gratitude to their genuine kindness shown to strangers from a distant land. In rare form, this is what humanity was truly all about. Though the journey was physically challenging and tedious, all spirits were high and smiles never left the faces of team members. I believe this was solely the result of the beautiful people of Reynosa. It’s at these points throughout our trips that I notice the “special moments”, moments that appear through words of encouragement or something as simple as a warm embrace. Moments that resonate in our minds and inspire us to push past adversity in order to provide aid to our fellow brothers and sisters in lands both foreign and domestic.

Our commitment is to assist others so they can experience a higher quality of life. Along with other organizations, patrons and partnerships, our combined forces are able to affect multiple communities by eradicating hunger and poverty in an environmentally efficient way. It is your ongoing support and commitment to our Care Initiatives that bring life-sustaining relief to entire communities worldwide. Efforts focusing on food, clean water, medical assistance, access to education and so much more are just on the brink of the possibilities for MegaCARE. As you continue to support this organization we will continue to support the world.

Thank you!

When I Met Belinda…

by Tiffani Robinson

There comes a time in everyone’s life where a simple encounter will shake you to the core and resonate in your heart for the rest of your days. This was never truer than when I met a beautiful Kenyan woman named Belinda.

Early one Tuesday morning, the MegaCARE Team prepared for a food distribution in the slums of Kariba. We put together care packages for families infected with HIV/AIDS, and we had just arrived at our first drop. Along with the three MegaCARE members were two caregivers and our Driver. As the Driver opened the door to our van, we were greeted with an overwhelming crowd of millions of people, their livestock and the excrement of both. Nothing I have ever heard or seen in my life in the United States could fully prepare me for what was before me.

The task ahead of us seemed daunting, and a sense of discouragement started to weigh heavily on my spirit. Curious eyes pierced us as we all unloaded our equipment and supplies. We were clearly intruders and had to prove our good intentions to those willing to allow us into their homes.

I noticed how alert our team members from Melchizedek Hospital were. It was then I realized the potential danger we could face at any second. We made our way through shadowy corners, descending paths and endless landfills until we finally arrived at a clearing. We came across a brittle woman lying on a makeshift cot as she rested her head on what seemed to be a pillow. It wasn’t until we closely approached her that the “pillow” began to move. A soft whimper silenced the overpowering moment and we realized it was her infant child. She was protecting her from the elements and from the peril of her surroundings. When asked why she was there, she informed us that their family of five had just been evicted from her home the night before. The three older children had gone to search for any remnants of meals, discarded by neighboring families as she rested with her youngest daughter, Hope. Despite all she encountered, the very name of her infant is exactly what helped her get to the next day. She pushed through adversity, not for herself, but for her children.

We were destined to be there, at that location, that hour, that very second… for her, for Hope. Her prayer brought us to Africa. Her tears led a stream straight to the place where she rested her head. The resiliency of her hope lasted long enough for us to fulfill her needs. We were able to provide her family with enough food for two weeks, bring her rent balance up to date and pay an additional three months.

With your continued support, we are able to provide assistance to people just like Belinda, and impact their lives in such a profound way. We at MegaCARE ask, in addition to your endless support, that you increase your giving! Though you might not be with us as we travel the world and change lives, it’s only because of your generous heart and gifts that we’re able to affect one life after the next.

Haiti: Reflections Three Years Later

by Richard Wesley

In February 2013, MegaCARE returned to Haiti to follow up with our partners and discuss sustainable community development strategies.  This was my first return to Port-Au-Prince since our relief efforts in 2010; the trip was extremely successful and an emotional journey for me personally.  Here at home almost everyone remembers the 2010 Earthquake that shook Haiti and claimed over 300,000 lives and displaced over 1 million people, but we’ve all moved on with our lives…including myself.

From the moment I arrived at the airport, I noticed positive change.  As we drove the city streets, certain land marks were easily recognized while other structures were gone.  Even though most of the rubble was removed, the impact of the earthquake is still very evident.  The city is now buzzing with energy, traffic and commerce is taking place; people are smiling, street vendors are working and life seem to be normal for the residents of Haiti.  The Haitian people are resilient, hardworking and persevering to restore their lives to a sense of normality.

While traveling down the streets of Port-Au-Prince, I experienced flashbacks of what I saw and experienced in the days following the earthquake.  Our team arrived 6 days after the earthquake to deliver 3 trailers of food, water and medical supplies as part of our initial relief efforts; the chaos, destruction, despair and pain witnessed on the street was only overshadowed by the smell of death in the air.  Body bags piled on street corners as rescue workers continued to dig through rubble looking for any signs of life.  Patients were under trees, on the ground or where ever space was available in emergency field hospitals.  Children were crying, amputations taking place without anesthetics and health professional working around the clock to save whom they could.  I remember consoling one nurse from Canada who was discouraged and crying as she frantically replaced soiled rags from a man’s neck wound before realizing that the quake had claimed yet another victim that day. I knew it was only in my mind, but those images, sounds and smells seemed just as real today as they did three years ago.

We continued down the road and past a corner I knew all too well.  Not as much for the landmark, but because of a man named Allard I almost expected to see standing there from 2010.  I know it’s been three years, but it now seemed like yesterday for me.  This was the site where a supermarket once stood and collapsed on that dreadful day.  Each day we drove past that corner; I noticed a lone man standing by himself.  Sometimes he was standing up on some rubble others days he was standing at street level.  Some days he was weeping while other days he had no expression on his face.  We learned he had argued with his wife that day and made her go to the market to get him fresh bread to eat, but she never returned.  Each day he stood outside the market waiting to be reunited with his wife.  Each time a body was removed from the marketplace, he would rush to the workers only to slowly walk back to his corner or across the street with tears in his eyes.  He felt responsible, and said he would not leave until he can take her home.  I don’t know how long he stood there, but I last saw him standing at that corner 14 days after the earthquake with the same look of despair on his face.

We later arrived at the 2010 distribution site which was home to 250,000 displaced people living in make-shift tents, and the site where we contributed to a food distribution that fed 50,000 people a day for that week.  We met with the camp directors as they explained how they are relocating the residents as quickly as possible although there is still an estimated 15,000 people living in tents at this location today.

As I walked through the camp, faces flashed through my mind.  I could still see the distribution taking place and hear the lingering moans of those in need in my head. My mind fixed on an elderly woman named Sofia, who invited me into her tent in 2010.  She pulled the six children near to her and asked how she could help me.  Help me? I remember thinking how odd of a question for her to ask me after all she’s been through, as I watched her cling to the children.

She later explained in a thick Creole accent, she first thought I was a social worker coming to take the children as I assured her that was not my purpose.

She shared that she and her daughter arrived at the camp 4 days prior, her son-in-law did not survive the quake and that her daughter was out begging for food while she cared for her three grandchildren.  She also was looking after three other children they found in the streets who lost their parents that same day.  Sofia begged us for food for the children, stating that she’s 80 years old and has lived a full life, but the children have their entire life in front of them.

They had not eaten in 7 days now, and she vowed that the children must eat first.  Her body was frail and both of her legs were broken as she watched over the children and shared her heart with me.  I urged her to come to the medical camp to seek treatment, and she said only after the children eat.  She stated these children are the future of Haiti and will be the ones to rebuild the country.  Barely able to speak, I shared with her that Bishop Jakes sent us with food and that she and her family will eat tonight.  I remember, tears of joy streamed down her face as she could only utter the words “Thank you.”

Today, there is an estimated 100,000 people living in tents and make shift homes in Port-Au-Prince. These numbers do not reflect those affected in the mountains or other rural areas of the island where the estimates are much higher.  Extreme poverty forces children to eat cookies mades of dirt because their parents are not able to purchase food in Cite Soliel which is one of the poorest slums area in Por-Au-Prince with an estimated 800,000 residents. Every orphanage we visited is at or surpasses capacity and in need of support.

During our meetings with local partners and leaders in Port-Au-Prince, we were able to further establish a local distribution network to get food and supplies to children most in need.  With our partners we shipped a container of food that will provide an estimated 82,500 meals for these children including diapers and education supplies.  The shipment also contained 2 dental clinics, medical supplies and equipment to set up advanced agriculture systems at local orphanages.

MegaCARE purchased additional medical supplies for a medical outreach program serving 2000 children a month in Cite Soliel.  We also partnered with a local community to refurbish a water-well that is now providing clean drinking water free of charge to an estimated 20,000 residents.  This was the only clean water supply for 20 miles.

In writing this story, I now see that Sophia did “help me” that day.  Because her selfless sacrifice and demonstration of love, likens to my Lord and is what compels me to press forward on my most difficult days…compels me to love when others would ignore…compels me to do whatever possible to provide hope and encouragement…compels me to make a difference in the lives of others through MegaCARE.

Through your continued support, MegaCARE is able to reach around the world to help those in need. Thank you for partnering with MegaCARE; together we are making a difference through humanitarian relief and initiatives that are changing lives here at home and empowering communities worldwide.

Thank you for being a difference maker!

My first steps into the mission field

On my first mission trip, I will admit that I was very nervous and felt at times not as prepared as I wanted. I completed the necessary hours of training where I was taught the significance of service in humility and importance of embracing, respecting and understanding cultural differences.  I also spent time in prayer and did additional research, but the same questions kept running through my mind.  Who am I to try and help people in a foreign country?  Am I qualified to do this?  How will I be able to contribute?  I knew there was a need.  I wanted to help, but I could not even speak the language.  I stepped out of what was comfortable, familiar and normal for me as I took my first steps into the mission field.  My life has never been the same.

We loaded the vans and drove throughout the night to arrive in the border town of Reynosa, Mexico.  I tried sleeping during the ten hour drive, but my nerves kept me awake in

anticipation of what I was about to experience.  This was my first mission trip, my first time to leave the United States and my heart began pounding as we arrived at the Texas / Mexico border.  As we crossed the border it was clear, I was way outside my comfort zone.

I kept telling myself that I was supposed to be here and tried to remember the different teachings from training, but it was all a blur as I looked at my surroundings.  I noticed small stores, street vendors and people on the side of the roads. There was an occasional sign I recognized, but I had only seen images like this on television and often wondered if there were really true.  My answer was outside my van window.  Within a short time we were checked in, unloaded and heading to meet the local team.  Our mission was to work with volunteers from a local church in reaching into the surrounding community to help those in need.

Upon arrival I met and forged a bond with a shy young man around 15-16 years of age named Maxiamo (Max) who volunteered to assist our team. We just gravitated to one another; maybe it was because we were both nervous or maybe because there were just a few years difference in age.  I’m not certain but somehow I knew we were in this together and for a reason.

Initially he helped me sort beans, rice and toiletries to prepare care packets for families living in rural colonias (shanties or impoverished communities).   Once we arrived at the colonia, I found myself at a loss for words and in complete shock with the living conditions.  I thought the drive in was alarming, but nothing I imagined had prepared me for the actual experience.  Sprinkled all along the banks of the Rio Grande River, which separates  Mexico from Texas, were clusters of makeshift homes carefully constructed from refuge the residents had salvaged from the local landfill.  The entire community was flooded with open sewage, un-tethered livestock, malnourished pets roamed freely and the sun warmed stench from the nearby landfill was less than desirable.

Our team began encouraging the residents and my assignment was to assist with the care packet distributions.  When it was time for the distribution Max was by my side.  He knew just enough English for us to communicate, and he taught me a few Spanish Phrases like “¡alabado sea el Señor!” = “Praise the Lord” and “¡Glory A Dios – Glory to God!” and ¡Dios te bendiga! = God Bless You! to say to the people as they received their care packets.

After that first distribution, we were basically inseparable.  He accompanied us to additional colonias as we were able to bless family after family for the rest of the day.  The following morning we arrived at an orphanage, and my prayers were answered because Max was waiting for me with a big smile on his face.  Our assignment today was to distribute toys and interact with the children.  Our team was fantastic, the children were so appreciative.  Their eyes danced excitedly and they were so gracious, even one to another, as they opened toys, played games, sang songs.   I think I was having more fun than the children and Max was by my side.

Slowly step by step I was becoming more comfortable.  I was building relationships and helping those who could not help themselves.  I noticed sincere gratitude and appreciation, and no longer saw dirt or tattered clothing.  I saw people doing the best they can with the resources available to them.  I could now see the reason I was on this mission.  I now found a new boldness and confidence in who I was and how I can do more to help others even at home.  The Lord was doing something big in my life.  For the first time, I was seeing people through the eyes of the Lord.   I was looking past their clothes whether tattered or new; looking past the dirt or make up on their face; looking past the jewelry or cars they own.  I was now seeing how to be an encourager to those around me whether in Reynosa, Dallas or anywhere else the Lord leads me.

Later that evening Max introduced me to his parents and shared that he was the first person in his family to attend church.  He told his parents about how we served together to help less fortunate families and children for the past two days, and they wanted to meet me to thank me for encouraging and helping him.  I was shocked. I knew we were helping the families in the colonias and the children in the orphanages, but helping him?  I just had the revelation that this was helping me, but it never crossed my mind that I might be helping Max.  My gosh if anything he was helping me!

His parents came to church for the first time that night because they noticed a great change in Max, and they wanted to learn more about the type of people that would freely bless and encourage others. I did not realize that so many lives could be touched by distributing care packets and toys in Mexico.  By taking that first step, I was part of a team that encouraged hundreds of families, brought smiles to the faces of orphans, built new relationships, empowered a young man while reaching his family and I grew in the process.

There is something about being in the mist of God’s work and seeing how those who love the Lord just as much as you are able to work together, support one another and make a difference in the lives of all involved.

MegaCARE has shown commitment to the empowerment of others. They have gone forth to share their love and compassion for others. They are not just an organization, but a family who extends their walls to touch the lives of those locally, nationally and internationally.  I’m a more confident, patient and caring person that is thankful for the opportunity to step outside my comfort zone.   I’m proud to be part of a wonderful organization, and I will continue to contribute to projects and mission trips in the future.

I’m thankful for taking my first steps into the mission field and becoming a better person in the process.