Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Shot@Life in Action

Yes, it's true: I went to New York City again in September. And, yes, while I did spend some time doing really fun things and seeing awesome people, the main reason for my trip was that I was there as a Social Good Fellow with the United Nations Foundation to attend the Social Good Summit, which helped kick off UN Week in New York City (you know, where the world's leaders get together and talk about solving global problems). The Social Good Summit (SGS) was sponsored by Mashable and was held at the 92nd Street Y on the Upper East Side.

Wait - what is all this? Okay, remember back in August when I wrote that post about how when you save a child's life you save a mother from heartache? You remember, it was the post you helped me promote, where each comment was worth $20 (enough for 4 life-saving vaccines), which post received 642 comments and raised $12,840. You remember. It happened because of YOU.



A good portion of the #Blogust contributors were able to attend the Summit in New York, and for those of us who were there, it was a very full weekend. We started off on Friday evening with an event to kick off the launch of the Shot@Life mobile app. From there: Meetings. Meetings during dinners, meetings during breakfast, and after breakfast, and during lunch, and even opportunities for meetings during the Summit. The amazing thing, though, is that with the abundance of information presented to us in all its forms, it didn't feel hopeless; there is so much to be done in the world, so much good, and there is HOPE. Inspiration abounds, and we can all participate.

We heard messages about the environment, about clean water (and the lack thereof), how cell phones are helping with healthcare in third world countries. We learned about how Google Earth helps find land mines and then plots safe routes for kids to walk to school, and how earthquake victims in Haiti used Twitter to contact the Red Cross for help. We talked about the suffering of world health due to lack of physical inactivity, and the Arab Spring. We learned about the power of empowering and educating women and girls - so much of this, the empowering and education of women and girls: it will change the world. And we learned about #GivingTuesday (coming this November -- I'm so excited about this idea).

All this, translated into Chinese, Russian, Hebrew, French, and Spanish, and broadcast around the planet. Global conversation.

It was all very humbling. I wondered, more than once, why I was there. Meaning, of all the people who could have been asked to participate, could I really make a difference? Sure, I had helped raise over $200,000 during #Blogust, but what good could I do beyond that? I heard about so many causes but wondered what I could actually do to help contribute to global issues once I was back home and into the routine of my regularly scheduled life.

And then my phone rang on the afternoon of Tuesday, October 2nd. Yes, that was Taylor Week. I was doing my best to hide from the world while simultaneously doing my part in daily family life. That particular Tuesday I had just sat down to watch Ellen and was crying - both because of the time of year and because I can never keep it together when it comes to Ellen's generosity. But when my phone startled me back into functioning-mode, I was surprised when I answered:

It was Devi.

It was nice to hear her sweet voice, and she got right to the point: Would I be interested in going on a trip with Shot@Life? To Uganda? At the end of the month?

This month?

I was floored. Any provisions I had made about holding it together for the sake of a phone call were out the window. Apologetically, I stumbled through an explanation that this invitation was coming at a perfect time: it was the anniversary of my son's death, and this year, through my experiences with Shot@Life I was feeling extra sensitive towards mothers around the world who lose their children. I thanked her, told her I was interested, and mentioned that, realistically, I would have to discuss the matter with my husband to see if going on the trip was feasible.

Darin's reaction, of course, was, "Cool! You should go! What a great opportunity!"

And here I am. A little over a week of phone calls, scheduling, a battery of painful shots in my arms, a round of Typhoid pills, a bunch of stress and nightmares and headaches, and the start of anti-Malaria pills (which, rumor has it, cause hallucinations), and now: one week away from my trip to Uganda. Ilina and Julie will be there, and I'm so glad to be able to spend more time with them. I'm beyond humbled to be one of three representing the group of Shot@Life bloggers.

We will spend our time visiting health clinics and see the fruits of our fundraising efforts. We will be able to witness children receiving life-saving vaccines, as well as vitamin supplements and tablets to eliminate parasitic infections.

I am well aware that I have no idea what I'm in for.

Here's what I do know: If you are reading this post, you are a part of this journey. You may very well have been one of the over 600 who left a comment back in August and made a difference in the life of a child, a mother, a family. I will do my very best to report to you on my experiences as I follow through with the next steps, with the delivery of the fundraising efforts of which we've been a part. I leave one week from today, and I will be gone for a week. As internet access allows, I will be updating my blog, but more likely I will make more frequent updates on facebook, instagram, and twitter. I hope you're following me in those places so that you can see the good that you have done, the difference you have made in this world.

As I continue to prepare for this trip and consider everything needed, I aim to go forward with a thought from Forest Whitaker, who works passionately for child justice in Uganda, and strives to build peace in the individual, which goes to families, communities, and the world:


"Love grows. It's a commodity that expands once you start to use it." 

25 comments:

Lindsey M. Petersen said...

This is amazing. You're amazing.

Gina said...

I got the email of who was going and somehow missed your name! Congratulations! I have loved my travels to Africa for humanitarian trips and I am sure you will have a blast. Looking forward to reports!

Fig said...

WHAT. No seriously - whaaaaaaaat?? This is so awesome! I can't even stand the awesomeness. Good for you! I have nothing even coherent to say! Except that I wish I were going with you!

Leanne said...

This is incredible! I can't wait to follow along. Safe travels!

Jill K said...

Fantastic.

Elena @CiaoMom said...

I got goosebumps reading your post---I am so incredibly excited for you!! What an amazing experience--and I cannot wait to read and hear about it through your eyes.

Adrian's Crazy Life said...

Wow. That is all kinds of amazing. I was eating my heart out at not bri g able to go to New York for the summit. I'm glad it has resulted in something so awesome for you. We are l so proud of you! Will be looking for your updates with excitement!

rachel said...

Holy crap, Jenny! That is amazing! Can't wait to read all about your experiences.

La Yen said...

I love you.

Julie Marsh said...

I'm so glad you will be there too, my Shake Shack sister and fellow triathlete. It means a lot that we'll be sharing this experience.

Jess from Coxs Corner said...

Oh my goodness! What an amazing opportunity!! Congratulations!

Queen Scarlett said...

I would tackle you in a hug, if I could run a billion miles to your house. So we'll have to settle for an air kiss, sent from me to you. Wo ai ni.

Jen said...

What an amazing opportunity! I am super jealous. I've been wanting to go to Africa for awhile now to do some kind of humanitarian work. Can't wait to hear all about it and live vicariously through you!

Naomi said...

How amazing!

cabesh said...

Holy awesome.

Kim said...

Oh my gosh Jenny. I am loud clapping for you. What an AMAZING opportunity. I am so proud of you and the good you're doing. Love you.

wendysue said...

Amazing! Shot@life AND you! What an experience!

wendysue said...

Amazing! Shot@life AND you! What an experience!

Kathy D said...

Amazing. I love the opportunities blogging provides us on and off line. I so look forward to sharing your journey as one of your readers.

mrs. r said...

Duuuuuude! I am so excited for you! Please tell me you will be IGing the whole time! AWESOME!!!!!

Rynell said...

Wonderful!

Lindsey Johnson said...

I was listening to NPR a few minutes ago and they were talking about polio in Nigeria and I thought of this campaign and how wonderful it is. And that "wonderful" doesn't begin to describe it.

What a great opportunity. You are the perfect person for this, Jenny. And I cannot wait to follow your travels and hear more about it when you get back.

Love you, my friend.

Marilyn said...

take me, im good at giving shots!

Kazzy said...

You are a good person. Way to go!

Sarah and Cam said...

Seriously amazing. So glad those kids will be receiving help. Can't wait to see and hear about the adventure!