Hey, How are your days? I suspect, rather challenging, any which way you look at it…
My 37th birthday is on June 2, 2020. I thought for sure we’d be out of the woods by now from this pandemic and I didn’t expect recent racist events… I’m still taking walks in the woods and living life, doing my best to stick to my beliefs and call to use every bit of my energy and skills to make a difference.
If I’m being honest about what I want, what I want most selfishly is to be reunited with my best friend Musole here in Raleigh, NC, rather than him still being in Zambia…and the world to go back to normal before we all had to wear face coverings, wait 6 feet apart and wash our hands and everything so much.
Then there are the recent murders of more people of color, like Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd. I support my black friends, the Black community, our family of struggling Americans, and our global community. I am upset, I am uncomfortable, I am disappointed, I am a bit lost, I am weary. And I think it’s important that I share that with you. However, I am not going to pour my feelings out here, because, I choose to focus on how I can be useful.
So I’ve come up with a list of causes that I’m deeply concerned about and I hope you’ll help me support organizations and people I have seen doing great work. For what it’s worth, I wrote this list before the death of George Floyd, but please note that all of these organizations are women or minority-led. Even a $5 donation to one of these would mean the world to me and those who will be blessed by your movement of generosity.
- Help me help the Mwale family by contributing to this GoFundMe. When I lived in Zambia, I had no car and had to find reliable trustworthy drivers to take me to and from work. I met Mr. Mwale in June 2018 and over the summer I learned how hard he worked, what he sacrificed to ensure his firstborn, a daughter named Sarah, finished grade 12, but also educate, feed, and clothe his four children well. He never let me down and always showed up, but also used every penny I raised in 2018 to ensure his kids — Sarah, Judith, Kelvin, and Collins — were all fully enrolled in school in 2019. In 2019, they had a new baby girl named Linzie and I got to meet her when I returned in September.
Even government schools are very expensive there with tuition, books, uniform, and exam fees. With COVID, he’s been completely out of work with companies closed and no one using taxi drivers. There is no such thing as unemployment in Zambia and food banks are not common. I’ve had many worrisome nights about how they would survive so, though he’s never once asked me for a cent, I twice sent money in May and immediately received this WhatsApp text:
“We are so grateful. We received the money. May God bless you and for the fact that we didn’t have enough food. You have helped us in this bad time.”
They still barely have enough food, much less money to send the children back to school and Sarah is just recovering from a bout of malaria. Please help me ensure he’s able to keep putting food on the table and keep the car he rents from his cousin to make money driving. ONE USD = 18 Zambian Kwacha so EVEN a $5 donation would go a LONG way for the Mwales. IF you don’t want to use the GoFundMe, you can PayPal me money using “Friends and Family” by sending to firstname.lastname@example.org or Venmo me at @LindsayKSaunders
- Donate to my RESULTS fundraiser to help fight poverty. RESULTS is a movement of passionate, committed everyday people using our voices to influence political decisions that will bring an end to poverty. Since 1980, RESULTS advocates have helped pass groundbreaking legislation and secure billions of dollars in funding to address poverty. We work to advance health, education, and economic opportunity for all in the U.S. and globally. I lead a local chapter in Raleigh, but there are chapters in all 50 states and in other countries. We haven’t stopped advocating just because we’re staying at home. We’ve continued to raise our voices to fight poverty and ensure important effective bipartisan solutions are brought to the table.
- Donate to Freedom For All Americans and help support nondiscrimination programs for LGBTQ Americans. No one should face discrimination based upon who they are or who they love. Did you know that 29 states still don’t have protections against discrimination in employment, housing, and public spaces? Freedom for All Americans is the bipartisan campaign to secure full nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people nationwide. Our work brings together Republicans and Democrats, businesses large and small, people of faith, and allies from all walks of life to make the case for comprehensive non-discrimination protections that ensure everyone is treated fairly and equally. Follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. This team is working tirelessly across America with a vast array of partners and network of advocates and I’m privileged to work on their team now.
- Is your heart hurting with the violence against people of color? Mine too… Help fight racism in America. Donate to the NAACP NC or NAACP National. Better yet, get involved with your local chapter. I’m joining the Raleigh-Apex NAACP chapter. Email raleighapexnaacp at gmail dot com to get involved and make a donation to support their H.B. Pickett and Dr. Portia Rochelle scholarships for college scholarships. It is the best way to get involved. Last year they gave out four or five scholarships to college students. As my dear friend Ruth said to me, “the racist acts earlier this week (deadly and potential deadly) are exasperating, in addition to the negative impact of the Coronavirus COVID-19 for African-Americans and communities of color.” As always, she has such wise words and I appreciate her friendship and partnership.
- Donate to Clothed in Hope to help empower impoverished Zambian women with skills and education. Clothed in Hope is a woman-led nonprofit, headquartered in both Cary, NC and Zambia, but empowering women in Zambia through education and economic opportunity. They are a small but mighty team working to see women in Zambia create sustainable businesses for the betterment of their families and to foster a legacy of hope in their communities. Give to Clothed in Hope to help vulnerable women become empowered mothers, entrepreneurs, and community-builders.
- Donate to GAIA to help build the capacity of the local healthcare workforce and funds for critical healthcare services in remote, rural Malawi. The Global AIDS Interfaith Alliance (GAIA) is a nonprofit that delivers innovative healthcare programs in resource-deprived regions in Africa, especially those most affected by HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. GAIA’s programs seek to empower girls and women, emphasize prevention, and expand access. The name recalls an early grassroots approach, incorporating leaders of all faiths as important community influencers and messengers on health topics. The grassroots legacy continues today, as GAIA’s programs are developed in-country based on the local context and focused on strengthening systems and developing capacity as a means to real and sustainable change. GAIA was founded in 2000, in response to the devastating HIV/AIDS epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa. GAIA’s Country Director, Joyce Jere, RN, MPH, is a Malawian nurse with vast experience in both clinical work and administration. With Joyce at the helm, the Malawi staff has grown to a team of 64, with two-thirds of those being women. I got to meet her in October when I attended an event hosted by my now friend Ruth.
- Donate to Oak City Cares in Raleigh to help those experiencing homelessness and food insecurity. Oak City Cares is a hub for connecting individuals and families, who are at risk of, or are experiencing homelessness, to coordinated services that create a path to stable housing and renewed hope. Staff coordinates services offered by human service professionals, medical providers, and other specialists from multiple partners at one location. Oak City Cares replaces the Oak City Outreach Center, previously located near Moore Square with a facility that is six times larger. Since 2014, the Oak City Outreach Center served 1,200-1,800 meals each weekend in a collaboration among the City, the Raleigh/Wake Partnership to End and Prevent Homelessness, Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Raleigh, private funders, and the generosity of more than 70 volunteer organizations and faith communities. I’ve toured the facility and learned firsthand about the INCREDIBLE work they do! And they’re STILL working hard through COVID19.
- Donate to A Place at The Table in Downtown Raleigh to help provide community and healthy food for all, regardless of means. On January 8th, 2018, A Place at the Table opened as a pay-what-you-can cafe at 300 W. Hargett St in downtown Raleigh. It is a welcoming and inviting space that provides an opportunity for all people to come and experience conversation and community while enjoying an excellent, fresh, and healthy meal. Not only that, but it tastes GOOD! People long for a community, a place to fit in, a place to feel welcome, and a place to be a part of something bigger than just themselves. And it works!!! I volunteered there at Christmastime and it brought me such joy to see how this wonderful cafe nonprofit is serving the community. They are also STILL working HARD through COVID19.
- Are you concerned about sexual violence and the MeToo movement in America? Me too. Check out my friend Sarah Beaulieu’s book. I first connected with Sarah in 2017 when I saw her on Twitter and watched her TEDTalk about confronting sexual violence. She challenges us: What if – instead of avoiding uncomfortable conversations about sexual harassment and violence – we could just get better at having them? Though I didn’t know her, I reached out on Twitter to get to know her and later interviewed her and featured her on my blog. She now has a book out! Buy a copy of Breaking the Silence Habit: A Practical Guide to Uncomfortable Conversations in the #MeToo Workplace on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, and Kindle. We all need to learn how to address these issues.
Lindsay K. Saunders is a North Carolina native, communications and outreach professional, community builder, and activist for a safer, happier, healthier, smarter, and more equitable, just world. Lindsay is also a Millennial who optimistically believes there is more creative, good change happening around us than we appreciate or realize.