In ten days time I turn 30.
It’s one of those age milestones that seems to strike fear into the hearts of many. Every birthday, not least the “big” ones, can usher in the normally-well-buried anxieties about purpose and meaning. How did I get here? Is this really where I am meant to be? Am I fulfilling my life calling? What even is my life calling?! And is that a grey hair…?!
I’m not immune to those anxieties. Living without a full time paid job the last three years has given me my fair share of anxious evenings as I try to figure out how to answer that dreaded question, “So what do you do?” And a degree in anthropology – however fascinating – doesn’t automatically thrust you into an obvious career. The question over whether I’m doing the right thing, investing my time the best way – well, it’s always at the back of my mind.
But this birthday? I am content.
Life is far from easy or perfect. There’s a lot of unknown ahead this year. But I have the love of an amazing man. I just entered my third trimester and my belly stretches a little further each day. I have wonderful dear friends in Luxembourg who bring a lot of fun and joy to my weeks. We have our other “baby” – Serve the City – which is growing and flourishing beyond our expectations. And we have a church that empowers and supports us.
I think I can safely tell those anxiety demons that still creep up, I’m doing alright.
And so I wondered how to mark this milestone. I’m not one for throwing parties for myself. Oh I love throwing parties, but in my own honour? That feels weird. And I’ve already had wishlist requests from family members. But I have trouble thinking of anything. I’m sure I could come up with something – some more of those gorgeous Hilltriber earrings for example.
But really? I’m so grateful for all I have. There’s nothing I really long for.
Except. There’s a lot I long for. I read stories on the news and from my friends around the world, and I’m aware of just how broken the world is. And just how privileged I am.
I’m white. I’m straight. I live in one of the richest countries in the world and my husband has a salary which means we can afford for me not to work. We have an amazing place to live. There’s a great welfare system if anything goes wrong. Our families are still together and strong. My family could afford to send me to University and there were no barriers to me matriculating. There’s no threats of war in my corner of the world. And little danger of violence – I’ll even sometimes walk through the parks at night on my own here. I’m not a victim of domestic violence or sexual or emotional abuse. My unborn child is very likely to be born healthy and safe, and I’ll be fine too.
Not everyone has it so easy.
I want to use my birthday to give some of my privilege away. It won’t be much on the bigger scale. I’m still a beginner in learning and figuring out what it can look like to have a lifestyle of giving away my privilege. But this I can do.
Last June, Rasmus and I visited River of Life Ministries in Masaka, Uganda. We sponsor two children through their White Eagle program, and it was such an amazing treat to be able to spend time with them and the other girls and boys who live onsite at the program. (You can read all my blog posts from the trip here).
But River of Life do much more than that one program. One of their other visions is their Leadership Academy Program, which takes bright and promising young people from their community and sponsors them through Further or Higher Education, as well as providing leadership training and support.
This is so exciting to me! River of Life is directly investing in the young leaders who will go on to have a transforming impact on their communities. This is what they wrote in their most recent newsletter:
“Uganda drops another 10 places to 140th in Corruption Index. Two thirds of Ugandans live on less than $2 a day. 60% youth unemployment a “ticking time bomb”. 2.5 million children orphaned. With those kinds of headlines in Uganda, it’s easy to get trapped into the politics of despair.
But what if the real news was different? What if we were reading and hearing about young people bringing revival and transformation to their communities? That would change everything! Despair would just have to crawl back under its dirty little stone and hope would abound!”
When I wrote to my friend Rob at River of Life a few months ago, my little birthday idea forming, he told me about two of the young women enrolled in the program right now. Robinah is studying Social Work. Sharon is studying Adult Community-Based Education.
And I knew then that I wanted to take the risk of my little idea.
Because these two young women? They are being empowered to step into their gifting, their calling, their strengths. They are working hard, despite incredible odds, to educate themselves, to resource themselves with the skills they need to make a difference in the communities they come for.
There is so much need in Uganda. But oh how much potential there is right here in these young women!
For this milestone birthday, I want to raise €3000 for River of Life’s Leadership Academy Program. That’s £2489 or US$4141 or 22.395DK. It feels big, but if just one hundred people give €30 (£25 or $40 or 224DK), together we could do it.
This money would ensure Robinah and Sharon can finish their studies this year. It will send them the message that there is a whole community of people behind them, supporting them and believing in them. And it will have a ripple effect in the lives of so many people in their communities.
Will you consider donating? If you were thinking of buying me a present or sending a card, I would be so thrilled if you’d donate to this fund instead. And for those of you who didn’t even have any idea of it being my birthday and only a vague idea of how old I was – would you stand with Robinah and Sharon?
This would be the best gift. This would make 30 a birthday to remember. If we can together raise €3000 to see young people in Uganda empowered to step into their calling and have a transforming impact on their country.
The money goes directly to River of Life Ministries in Uganda, and they will earmark all donations from my birthday fundraiser for the Leadership Academy. If you are in Luxembourg and it’s easier, you can also give me cash and trust me to pass it on (I will, I promise). Taxpayers in the UK can also tick to giftaid their donation, which makes it worth even more.
And thank you. Thank you for reading this far. Thank you for considering this. Thank you for believing in my little vision for my birthday. I’m so excited and nervous to press publish. Because what if it fails? What if I hardly raise anything and look like a idiot for thinking I could? But some things are important enough that it’s worth the risk of trying. And this is one of those things. I hope you’ll join me.
UPDATE: A few people have asked if they can donate via paypal (e.g. because they aren’t able to donate via credit card). If you would like, you can donate via paypal using the button below, but please be clear this money comes directly to my personal account. I promise to make sure your donation gets to the right place…
Both photos taken from River of Life’s website and newsletter.