Biologist, Conservationist, & Portlander. My passion lives in Africa.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

The little things.

11:32 AM Posted by Tara Easter No comments

Okay, okay, all jokes aside. In all seriousness I have to admit that the animals that I read about as a kid, that I fell in love with at the zoos, and formed a relationship with on my first big adventure in Namibia do exist in a complex, beautiful, and often overwhelming part of the world, and lately, I've been feeling pretty discouraged about their future in Africa.

In order to preserve and protect the creatures I care so deeply for, I've been trying to learn everything I can about African nations: their histories, their current status, their needs, their cultures. The more I learn about Africa, the more I discover about the entire world, and I have to say, I don't like what I'm finding. I am not naive enough to think that I could even begin to "fix" the problems that the people of Africa and the world's most powerful politicians have not been able to solve, but how can I even help to facilitate positive change when the magnitude of issues I will come up against are so great and complex?

It's easy to think this way. That's exactly what Paul Loeb discussed in an interview with Idealist
Cynicism is the corrosive acid that says, “Why bother? Nothing that I’m going to do will matter.” Cynicism mocks the idealist. It’s different from saying, “I disagree with you about tax policy.” The cynic is the person who says that this work in its entirety is futile. 
Imagine if Nelson Mandela or Susan B. Anthony thought this way! So how do we avoid cynicism? How do we avoid drowning in the evils of international politics or the challenges of global climate change? 

We take it one day at a time. 

Paul calls on nonprofit organizations to remind their staff that their work is worth something and appreciated, and his advice for individuals? When you've lost a political, social, or environmental battle, simply go back to something that nourishes your spirit and recharge.

I've been volunteering for the Kasese Wildlife Conservation and Awareness Organization for awhile now. I haven't been doing anything major, just updating their Facebook and Twitter accounts, trying to raise awareness about this organization's amazing work in Uganda. In the meantime, learning about the conflicts in the DRC, Uganda, and Rwanda is enough to make my head spin. Well, Asaba called me last week to tell me a little story... 

He told me about a good friend of KWCAO that raises money for them almost every year. The first year he raised $2,600. The third year, he promised friends and family to dye his hair in order to raise money - $4,004 worth. The fourth year he had no campaign, but set out again on his fundraiser. He asked his usual donors and new friends to give whatever they could, whether it's 10 dollars or 100. Here and there he collected, and he handed Asaba a $5,050 check this year. Asaba couldn't believe it. $5,050 can go so far in Uganda! They got to talking, and Mike told him a story of one of his donors that wrote him a check for $100, but then Mike told this donor about a post he had seen on Facebook about KWCAO's office manager. After the donor heard about this young woman, he wrote a new check, changing his donation. So even though I consider my contribution to this group to be small, Asaba excitedly told me that it's because of my efforts that this donation went from 100 to 500 dollars. And it's people like Mike, who go the extra distance, that help this organization make a big difference in Uganda and for its wildlife. 

I'm thankful for the reminder that people like Asaba and Mike provide: that every little bit really does make a difference. It's important to be informed about the world, but don't let that information stop you from acting.