30th Birthday Uganda Fundraiser Challenge

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On the second night of my retreat, I freaked out.

I was in a beautiful converted farm on the top of the hill, looking out over the North Sea five miles to the east. I joined in the community rhythm of Celtic prayer four times a day and sat down with them for meals together at the big table.

I’d come here because I was eager for the quiet, for the stillness. Life has been incredibly full for the last few months—not in a bad way, but I was feeling the need to pause and simply draw breath, especially with the child in me demanding more space from my lungs each day.

But by the evening of day two I was trying to stifle the sobs erupting out of me in case the residents in the next room heard my embarrassing histrionics. All I wanted in that moment was to go home…

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My monthly She Loves post went up yesterday, about my experience of going on retreat last month to a Celtic monastic community in Northumbria, and what I found there. I would love for you to join me over there (and stick around – these women are my tribe. I love their words).

And also, because I think it’s too important to stop talking about… my birthday challenge to raise €3000 to help bright young women in Uganda finish University is still going on. We’ve raised over €2250 already! I need just 25 people who’s be willing to give €30 on this my 30th birthday. Could you be one of them?

Image by Sarah Joslyn for She Loves Magazine

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Education Quote - My 30th Birthday Fundraiser

A little under a year ago I sat on top of a hill looking out over the surrounding Ugandan towns and villages, and cried with the weight of all I’d seen and heard in the last two and a half weeks.

My mind thought back to the incredible leaders and visionaries I’d met and listened to at the Amahoro Gathering in Entebbe. I remembered the indescribable feeling of walking dusty paths to the newly dug well in Bubanza, Burundi and seeing crystal clean water flow for the first time. I remembered the first hug our sponsored girl gave me when we walked into her home. I remembered the tiny premature babies in the neonatal unit at the nearby hospital. I thought of all the patients we’d prayed for in the crowded wards.

I cried that afternoon on that piece of hilltop land called Prayer Mountain. And Rasmus and I sat and read together verses from Ezekiel, about ruins being rebuilt and gardens cultivated again, of dry bones rising and living, new breath flowing through broken bodies.

I told myself that day that I would not forget the faces and voices from our trip, that I would figure out ways, however small, to stand with them, to keep listening, to join them in that process of rebuilding and replanting.

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I don’t think I ever understood, as a nineteen year old idealist very ready to fly the nest, just how lucky I was to get to go to University. It had always been a given in my mind. I was bright, I was expected to get good results at school, so University was the natural next step and it barely crossed my mind that this was an incredible privilege, something that few young people – particularly young women in some parts of the world – get to do.

I had a wonderful four years at University. I lived with fantastic friends, got involved in numerous student societies, learnt how to ceilidh like the best of them, spent a year living overseas, lived in a town with three beaches to chose from for windswept walks… oh, and picked up a degree in Social Anthropology along the way.

Studying at University opened doors for me. Not just the career-doors, although it did that. But doors into new worlds of ideas and concepts. Doors into friendships with a diverse group of people. Doors into inspirational relationships with gifted tutors and academics. Doors into a safe space to figure out what I was, who I wanted to become.

It’s a little part of why I got so excited when Rob first suggested that I fund raise for the young women on their Leadership Academy program to finish this year of Uni. Because I know the possibilities that can be released with Higher Education.

And I imagine the potential of these young women – women who’ve already had to work hard and succeed in difficult circumstances, often against the odds – and I am so sure that this investment is part of what it means to stand alongside them, to be a tiny part of breathing new life into broken communities.

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Here’s my little request to you, my regular (or irregular) blog readers, those of you who come here occasionally because you like what you read, because you find some encouragement or inspiration, or just for the book recommendations…

I don’t make any money from blogging. I could, I suppose, make the odd euro or two if I was committed about adding those affiliate links, or putting a lot of sponsors in my sidebar. But I don’t. It’s not really why I write. I’ve loved having this space to air my ideas and thoughts, to write out my emotions and experiences. And I love that you’ve been here to receive those words.

So I’m asking something of you today. If you have ever benefited from something I wrote here, would you show your appreciation by joining my Birthday Fundraiser? Think of it as a way of saying a wee thank you. And a way of standing with us as we join the work of recultivating the land.

I need one hundred people to give €30 or £25 or $40, to help two wonderful young Ugandan women finish University. I know there are over a hundred of you out there – the rare glances at my blog stats tell me so. My birthday is in two days and we’re already a quarter of the way there. We could do this together…

Would you join me? You can make a donation by clicking here.

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Click here to read my earlier post about my 30th Birthday fundraiser.

Photo taken on Prayer Mountain, Masaka, Uganda, when I was being wrecked in the best possible way.

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