Monthly Archives: February 2015

SPOTLIGHT on local non-profit JabuAfrica

I’ve mentioned lately that I’ve been struggling to write here, primarily because I feel like my brain is scattered and I’m not sure how to share all of that mess. But what has happened in this absence is my desire to better use this “platform” for good. I’ll still be writing about what I’m thinking and feeling, but I’m going to narrow it down to a few things: my community, my parenting (choices and struggles) and my passions.

One way you’ll see this new focus is in a new monthly series about organizations that I think are doing amazing things. It’s called SPOTLIGHT and first up is an organization near and dear to my heart: JabuAfricaJabuAfrica_RGB.1.2

A little tidbit about me: I’ve always wanted a brown baby. Always. Like, I can’t remember NOT wanting a little brown baby. The night before I got married (to a white man), my mom said to me, “Katie, you know you’re not going to have a brown baby biologically now, right?”

Another little (more important) tidbit about me: I have a HUGE passion for kids who grow up in less than ideal conditions – physically or emotionally. I imagine the differences between the hearts of my children (who aren’t parented perfectly for sure, but who have more than basic physical necessities and are loved through and through and are told and shown that every single day) and those kids who are never hugged, told they’re loved, tickled, laughed with or feel complete joy from a parent.

One more tidbit: I’ve always felt a pull towards Africa. I can’t explain it. My close friend Sarah Castor sums it up perfectly. She writes “There is a Congolese proverb that says, ‘You can outrun what chases you but not what is inside you.’… For whatever reason, my heart has always been pulled there…” This resonates within me exactly.

There is such amazing beauty in the African land.

Photo credit: Sarah Castor

Photo credit: Sarah Castor

There is also extreme generational poverty like nothing I’ve seen.

Photo credit: Sarah Castor

Photo credit: Sarah Castor

In comes JabuAfrica. Sarah (and her husband Dave) adopted three boys from Africa. Their sons were born in South Africa, Ethiopia, and Democratic Republic of Congo respectively. And it was out of their adoption journeys that she founded JabuAfrica to work as a partner walking alongside initiatives that empower Africans and provide the resources for leaders to rise up and lead their communities.

I love what Sarah says in this: “It was my love of Africa that led me to adopt but it is now my deeper love and understanding that motivates me to empower families so that poverty does not determine a mother’s story, a father’s story or a child’s future.”

I love that so much. And that’s exactly what JabuAfrica and it’s partners are doing: empowering families. It’s what we all want, right? To feel empowered to make the best choices for our families? The thing is, we already have a million legs up simply by living in the US.

Last year, I was given the amazing opportunity to hear about with JabuAfrica is doing with one of it’s partners, Giving Back to Africa. I was speechless and my heart was filled while listening to and seeing the impact the programs are having in the DR Congo. PLEASE take the next 7 minutes and watch this video to see how they are helping the Congolese people take control over the future of their people.

There is so much more I want to tell you. More about JabuAfrica and its partners. More about Sarah and her love that is completely contagious. But you can read all about it on their website. What I really want you to do is get involved. I did because I was giving to a big international organization and I was seeing reports after reports about how little money actually goes to those programs and even more so, programs that were actually empowering its people. Since I personally know Sarah and her heart, I know my giving is being used in the best way.

How can you get involved you ask? Sign up for updates from JabuAfrica through their website. Donate if your heart is in this like mine. Go to their big fundraising event in July. (I’ll totally be there and I’d LOVE for you to join me! And it’ll be FUN. I promise you that.)

And ask me about it in person. I’d love to share more with you. And hopefully one day I’ll be able to show you my own pictures of Africa and share my own stories of the people. Once Sarah agrees to take me with her on her next trip. 🙂

One shade of who gives a #*&@

I have NOT read any of the Fifty Shades of Grey books. I didn’t read any of the Twilight books either and when my writer-friend Shireen told me how poorly she thought of the 50 Shades books (because of how crappy they were written, etc. and NOT because of the sexual nature) I just never had the desire to read them.

So what I’m about to say is based solely on my personal interaction with friends. I haven’t read reviews of the movie or read a single article about it either. But here’s what I’ve got to say: Who cares what two CONSENTING ADULTS do in a sexual relationship as long as it’s, again, consensual between two adults and legal? (I throw legal in there so no one can come out and talk to me about bestiality, child sexual abuse, etc.)

shades

Whether or not you agree with what she (I don’t even know her name) does with Christian Grey, or lets him do to her, is not the point. If it’s agreed upon by two adults, under terms they set together, and they both feel safe within the agreed-upon situation, why do you care about it? It’s THEIR choice. Not ours. (I mean, I guess if you want to get critical, it was the author’s decision, because remember, this is a non-fiction book we’re talking about.)

If you want to talk about Grey controlling her, let’s talk about control. In every single sexual interaction between two people, someone is in control. In the standard, most common mission sex position, someone’s on top and someone’s on bottom. If literally being on top of someone doesn’t signify control, I don’t know what does. There’s always some level of control in a relationship. And that’s okay as long as you’re on the same page with your partner.

I’m sure this woman has self-esteem issues from what I’ve been told. (Don’t we all?) It sounds like maybe Christian Gray takes advantage of his “age and experience” and her lack-there-of. (I’m not entirely sure I care since she willingly walked into this relationship as an adult knowing her own age and experience.) I’m sure I won’t let my kids read the books or watch the movie. (Especially since they are all too young and not the target audience.) I would probably not do things I’ve heard they do sexually in the book/movie. (It just doesn’t turn me on.) I also won’t go see the movie in the theater. (Because honestly it makes me uncomfortable sitting with a 100 strangers watching graphic sex scenes.)

BUT. (And this is a HUGE butt. Kinda like mine.)

(See what I did there?)

Here’s the deal: We all have the freedom to enter into grown-up relationships. OR NOT. And what you chose to do sexually within the consenting boundaries of your marriage (okay, or whatever relationship you’re in) is YOUR choice only.

So be all gung-ho about non-consenting sexual abuse issues. But don’t knock someone down or tell someone they’re wrong because they’re turned on by something that you don’t understand. Especially if you haven’t even read the non-fiction books.

(This is all about a non-fiction book series for adults that NO ONE is required to read, right? Geesh.)