“If we can teach global responsibility at an early age, carrying that responsibility in the future will be second nature to children. “ - Rebecca Peragine, Artist and owner of Children Inspire Design and Kindred Sol Collective
I recently joined the team here at Kindred Sol Collective and it has been an incredibly positive experience. It’s always exciting to meet people who have the same momentum and excitement for life.
When I met Rebecca, the creative force behind KSC, I knew immediately we were part of the same tribe. It felt like I went out for a jog and met up with an already jogging Rebecca, and we started jogging together. Metaphorically of course, because I haven’t jogged since before iPods were invented.
Rebecca is a lot of things. She’s a born artist. A teacher, a world traveler, a philanthropist, a business woman, a mother. And what struck me the most, she’s a doer. It's easy to talk about all the things you want to do, but to actually do them is another thing entirely. You can shout your passions loudly; plead and cry the need for action. But to live it yourself is the best way to inspire change. Nothing motivates me more than seeing people going for it. Make a plan, set a goal and everyday take a step in that direction.
With Children Inspire Design, Rebecca’s other artistic venture, her mission to plant the seed early will ensure that children will keep that awareness in their pocket as they grow. She incorporates recycled materials into every design and 10% of proceeds go to charities that focus on helping woman and children in the developing world.
It’s no secret the giving to others makes you feel good, and it’s contagious. I mean, I just adopted a whale. I haven’t done that since I was a kid. I loved marine mammals so much as a little girl, I would memorize their scientific names and draw pictures of them everywhere, even my bedroom wall. (My mom was all about expressing your creativity.) I was so moved by the plight of the Megaptera novaeangliae that all I asked for for Christmas was money to donate to the Pacific Whale Foundation. When you donate, you pick a humpback whale to symbolically adopt. I pored over my options to make sure the whale I picked was the right fit for me. I ended up choosing Midnight, who had a black fluke with white outlining the edges. I framed her picture and displayed it on my wall for years.
The pride I felt by fulfilling my global responsibility had opened a door in my heart that would never close. I carried that love of the ocean and marine life into adulthood, but that desire to make an impact that I’d had as a child slowly dulled to a guilty nagging and a promise to myself to give when I had more money. Migaloo the albino whale is the new face of my reignited passion to help.
But it’s easy to want to help a beautiful majestic creature that has a visible presence in the world. It’s easier to talk about a cause like this than something involving unpleasant and scary topics.
I heard about obstetric fistulas a few years ago and it broke my heart. A fistula is essentially a hole between the vagina and the bladder or rectum that is caused during childbirth from the fetus putting pressure on an ill equipped body. Girls are forced into marriage and their tiny frames aren’t able to handle the trauma of childbirth. The ordeal leaves them with chronic damage that causes an uncontrollable leak of urine and feces. They are usually abandoned by their husbands and shunned by their communities, forced to live in isolation. To have to endure the physical pain and emotional trauma of birthing a child so young and with no prenatal care is bad enough, then to be ostracized and looked down upon is just gut wrenching.
I learned of a woman who has made it her life’s work to help these girls. Dr. Catherine Hamlin, now in her 90s, has devoted her life to this mission. She started a foundation that builds hospitals in Ethiopia to provide desperately needed care.
The hamlinfistulausa.org website stayed open in my browser for weeks. When I imagine a young woman, alone and uncomfortable, shunned to the outskirts of her village, then I Iook at myself in my warm loving home, my heart breaks. I have a duty to this woman. She could be me. I was lucky to have landed in this part of the world; It wasn't a choice to be born in a third world country. We have an obligation to help. I give as much as I can. It isn’t enough but it’s more than nothing.
It’s intense just explaining what a fistula is. Even the name is unpleasant. But I think it’s really important to pay attention to the causes that grab you, and get the word out. You started reading this thinking about playful whales and feel good benefaction. And then I started using words like uncontrollable leak and rectum. But that’s exactly my point. No one wants to talk about these things because they characteristically repel people.
I’m not writing this to let you know that I'm a charitable person. I’m trying to point out that you can afford it, and we can’t afford not to. I’m hoping to motivate people the way Rebecca has motivated me. Even though I can only imagine what kind of life these women lead, we can all relate to suffering. As humans, we have a responsibility to protect each other. And we have a responsibility to help all the creatures of the earth. There's a million causes and foundations, a million ways to help.
The first step is informing yourself. Then we can inform the littles. We use our art to celebrate the earth and inspire people. Changing the world is not one giant act, it’s a bunch of tiny movements. It’s a chain of dominos that ends in the lap of someone who needs it. You can knock the first domino over with your index finger by clicking on the links below.
to adopt your own Migaloo: www.pacificwhale.org
to change a young mother’s life: hamlinfistulausa.org
to buy art and inspire the littles: www.childreninspiredesign.com
to order a pizza: order.pizzahut.com
Ticla Fish print available at www.kindredsolcollective.com