It’s very easy for blogs to be nothing more than words on a screen. It’s especially easy for a blog focused on important issues like global poverty to come off sounding like meaningless rhetoric. Paying it forward! Changing the conversation! These things are meaningless unless there is action, events, and changes attached to them. It’s thanks to Kathy Ward and her non-profit organization (Nari Jibon) that I’ve been able to see first hand the power of the words that I type on my computer screen.
A few months back, my video about the Young Hardworking Poor of Rural Bangladesh got featured on the YouTube.com global website. Thousands of people started looking at my site – some wondering how to get involved. I wrote a quick post and recommended a few places people could go (Nari Jibon being one of them). As much as I’d hoped that someone might be inspired to “pay it forward”, the pragmatist in me didn’t think it very likely.
Boy was I surprised.
That video eventually made its way to Shaina. Shaina is an undergrad at Florida State University. Little did I know that she had checked out my website, found the post about how to get involved, and got in touch with Kathy at Nari Jibon. Shaina came to Bangladesh on her own dime – and like me – is staying in Dhaka with help from her family in Bangladesh. Unlike me, her two month stay in Bangladesh is definitely a two month stay. FSU awaits her back in August.
The day I met Shaina and learned about how she was inspired to come to Bangladesh was also my opportunity to meet Kathy Ward for the first time. Kathy has been reading this blog for the longest time. I think she was reading this blog before there was even a single video up on YouTube. Meeting her was especially significant for me because not only has she been a long time supporter, but she’s also been able to see how this project and how I have changed over time.
It’s friends like Kathy that have made it possible to see how my blog can make a real difference. It’s also friends like Kathy that keep me honest and make sure – no matter how many YouTube honors, website hits, and video views I get – I never forget why I came here and started this project.
[And as a sidenote, there were also a lot of weird coincidences which kept reminding me of Matt during my meeting with Kathy. Kira (the lady in the far right in the picture) used to live in Uganda before coming to Bangladesh. She was delightfully surprised when she found out this blog was expanding to Uganda. And Shaina is from Florida just like Matt. Small world, eh?]