Monday, July 14, 2014

Art as Charity, a new project



     I dont know about you, but sometimes reading about the current news makes my heart hurt. Especially as a mother, I am shocked and saddened at the violence and cruelty there can be out there in the world, and even in our own countries, states and towns. It is so easy for me to feel helpless and overwhelmed, which, if you know me, are two feelings that I really hate.    

    Recently, there has been a lot of talk on the news here in Oklahoma about the large wave of illegal immigrant children who have flooded into the US from Central America seeking refuge from instability and violence in their own countries. Many of these children have been detained by the government and have been temporarily housed in a handful of army bases, one of which is Ft. Sill in Oklahoma, to figure out where they should go and if they have any proper US guardians they can be sent to.

    In many of these cases, the children have been sent alone, under dangerous circumstances with people who probably don't have their best interest at heart, to a foreign country, whose language they don't speak. Many times, these situations do not end well--- they end up in human trafficking where they are abused and exploited. In some cases, they don't survive their circumstances. Yet they are fleeing from situations in their home countries that are even more dire. Can you imagine, as a parent, playing these terrible odds on your child's life? Of being so scared of what will happen if your child remains with you, that you are willing to send them off, maybe to never see them again, into situations that are extremely dangerous, in the off chance that they'll survive? I can't fathom it. My heart just aches. That is every parent's nightmare.

   Yet, knowing this, the welcome these children have received in my home state has been anything but compassionate in many instances. I've decided I wont go into my opinion on that here. It's not the place. Where my place is, though, is to speak up about how compassion is never the wrong thing to offer. How there before the grace of God go I, or my child. I read an article recently that pointed out that Christ himself was an immigrant child fleeing violence. And that it was the kindness of those along the journey and in the safety of Egypt, that helped him and his family survive. Or lets think about Moses, getting floated down the river in a basket. What a terrifying gamble his mother had to make for his life. Were these moments of compassion worth it? I'm going to have to say: yes.

    And so thinking about this, I kept wondering "what can I do to help?" I don't speak spanish. I don't have any legal expertise. But I do have art. And through art, I can donate money to the organizations helping these kids, and countless other vulnerable people in the world who could use the no-strings-attached kindness of strangers.

   So I read up on the issue, and found out that it is Catholic Charities of Oklahoma out of Oklahoma City that is organizing aid for these children to ensure that their next steps in their journeys are towards somewhere safe. As I explored the other charities they offer, I noticed that they aided a variety of really worthy causes--- such us disaster relief, aid for homeless women and their children, aid for women with unplanned pregnancies, legal aid for immigrants, refugee resettlement and social justice. All in all, some wonderful programs that I am excited to help in some way.

  My way of helping, of course, will have to come through my art--- and you can help! I've decided that for the next few days (or until my supplies run out!) I am going to donate $10 of each print of "Lamb of God" and "Madonna of the Blossoms" (which has just been freshly restocked in the shop!) to Catholic Charities of Oklahoma. If you'd like to purchase a print to help with this cause, all you need to do is buy your print in the shop as usual, and at the end of my offer I will make the donation to Catholic Charities of Oklahoma. According to their site, they can take the donations via paypal and I'll post a receipt of that donation here on the blog so we can see how much we can raise.

   Suddenly my feelings of sadness have lifted, and I feel good. I'm grateful that I'm in this country where I am safe, where my family is fed, clothed, dry and warm, and that I am able to use my own gifts to help others. 

   And if you'd like to buy a print, you can find there freshly posted in my etsy shop:




Thank you so much--
Heather

4 comments:

  1. I so resonate with your concerns about the children who have been living in such uncertain and unsafe conditions. Thank-you for organizing a way for me to also not feel so helpless. Catholic Charities does wonderful work here locally in our community. I am sure they will be making a difference in Oklahoma too.

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  2. I think this is a wonderful way to put your belief system into action! Great idea, Heather!!

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  3. How beautiful Heather, you have such a kind soul! It breaks my heart the things that go on in many other countries, especially when it involves children who have to flee here by themselves to escape such horrible goings-on! No child should have to deal with such horror and uncertainty.

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Each and every comment is appreciated! Thanks for coming to visit me :) ~Heather