Blog: 15 November 2017
“There’s no possible way people live on less than a dollar a day,” retorts Masira in disbelief. “I mean, what can a person really eat for a dollar?”
Masira is one of our outstanding 11th graders at the UrbanPromise Academy in Camden. Her world has forever changed because of an unlikely relationship—a friendship with a young Malawian leader name Vanessa Mwangala.
Vanessa is an UrbanPromise Fellow who trains with us in Camden. Her dream is to go back to Malawi next May and create an UrbanPromise-type program focusing on female empowerment. Malawi, an extremely poor sub-Saharan country in southeast Africa, desperately needs leaders like Vanessa who will create opportunity for young women.
UrbanPromise Camden is preparing Vanessa.
But while Vanessa trains, she’s also impacting our students in Camden, especially our teenage girls. Vanessa is opening the eyes of our young women—like Masira—to what poverty looks like in different parts of the world.
Masira’s lessons are growing deeper each day as she learns about poverty around the world: the luxury of shoes, electricity, meat, indoor plumbing, and education—things she takes for granted.
“I’m definitely more grateful this year,” confesses Masira. “I just see things differently now.”
That is a powerful statement when it comes from a young person who lives in a city entrenched in poverty (currently 42% of Camden’s residents live below the poverty line). At UrbanPromise, even as we care for our young people and help meet their most basic needs, we are also teaching them not just to receive, but also to give. This Thanksgiving as we continue our tradition of providing a turkey dinner to families like Masira’s, we celebrate seeing our young people develop a different perspective, understand the value of service to others and have gratitude for what God has given them. Masira and her friends are empowered to be part of the solution for Camden and beyond. Masira is even planning a future trip to Malawi!
Having friends like Vanessa and Masira challenges me to “see things differently” and has deepened my own practice of gratitude and appreciation for life and God’s amazing gifts.
In the coming days, UrbanPromise will encourage our children, families and staff to practice gratitude. Once again, Thanksgiving dinners will be served around the city of Camden for hundreds of children, parents and community members. This annual tradition of breaking bread together dates back 29 years.
Families will gather with our staff to celebrate God’s goodness. As a community we will pray, sing, enjoy good food, deepen friendships, and practice gratitude.
As you contemplate your blessings this Thanksgiving, I hope you will share your abundance with our children and families.
One delicious meal of turkey, yams, collard greens, and pumpkin pie costs a mere $6.50, 5 meals for $32.50, a table just $65.
Thanks in advance for the blessing of your gifts.
Dr. Bruce Main
Founder & President