Valentine’s Day has never been a holiday that was important to me. Sure, as a teenager, I hoped upon hope that the boy I fancied would suddenly this year realise that I was the girl of his dreams and shower me with roses, chocolates and hand-made cards – preferably in front of the rest of my class so that they all got to see how special I was. (Keeping it real, here)
Rasmus and I have never put much effort into the holiday either. The first year we were a couple, we spent Valentine’s day watching England play rugby in an Irish pub, while I educated Rasmus on the finer points of the strategy in the sport (you can’t join our family without a basic understanding of scrums and tries).
And then last year, I became part of a new Valentine’s project, and suddenly the day had so much more meaning. She Loves Magazine, the online community of women I so love to be a part of, worked together to raise the funds needed to provide identity cards – “blue roses” as we called them – to women in a community called Bubanza in Burundi.
I cried as I read the call to action, cried as I donated money to the cause, cried when I saw Tina’s beautiful photos of the day the women (and some men – we raised well over target!) received their ID cards – which bring access to healthcare, the rights of citizenship, the ability to open their own bank accounts and even the possibility of owning a piece of land one day.
Last year Valentine’s Day became about more than romance and fluff; it became about compassion and empowerment, and that is something that thrills my heart and spurs me into action.
And this year the dream grows: what if we could fund a well in Bubanza?
This year, we’re asking people to join us, but not just give money. We’re creating Circles of Grace – ten friends committing together to each give $10 towards funding a well in Bubanza.
If 100 people commit to creating a Circle of Grace, we will raise $10,000. It’s a simple idea, it doesn’t cost you much (goodness, $10 is just €7.47 or £6.37 – and you’re welcome of course to donate more!) but it will make a big difference.
We can make this Valentine’s day about a true love, the kind of love that gives, that serves, that comes alongside, that empowers, that unites.
I will be asking nine friends this week if they’ll donate with me (my first friend already said yes at lunch today!). Will you join me? If you’re in, let me know in the comments, and also go and add your name to the comments on the She Loves page. Be part of something bigger this Valentine’s Day. I hope you will.
For more of the background story, click here to go to She Loves Magazine and read what the inspiring Idelette has written.
The money will go directly to an organisation called Communities of Hope in Burundi. They work in two communities (Matara & Bubanza) and since 2009 have served over 2000 families through micro lending, community banking and business training. My friend Kelley Nikondeha and her husband Claude are the founders and I love the vision they have for these communities.
The first photo is from the Communities of Hope blog. The second (girl with jerry cans) is taken by the oh-so-talented Tina Francis.