If you are a frequent visitor to this blog (oh, bless you, a thousand times), you may have taken a moment to look at the links to some of our favorite blogs over there on the right of the screen. If you have done this, you have met my cousin Jessica (and possibly her brother-dogs, Eddie and Reuben? and human brother Ben?), who is currently doing amazing things and enriching all of our lives and the lives of many strangers in a small village in Niger, where she is in her second year of a stint with the Peace Corps. There have been many moments in her journey, which she and her mom, my aunt Kerry, have been blogging about throughout the year, when I have had to stop and sob and sob some more and then compose myself in order to finish reading. This is in part because Jessica has an ability to express herself in the written word in a very effective and evocative way. But it is even more so because of the realities of the lives of the people who have become her family there. She has written of hunger, real hunger, loss, and hardships that are a part of the way life is in that part of the world, but which throw my little world-view for a loop. How many times I have wished I could do more than light a candle and say a prayer for her work there, for the daily lives of the women she pounds millet with, walks miles with, sits in mourning with. For the children she holds hours after they are born, who learn to walk in circles around her legs, who are making her laugh when it seems impossible to do so. Well, finally there is something I can do, and I invite you to do it with me! Jessica is helping her village raise the funds to build a new schoolroom, and the project has been approved as official through the Peace Corps Partnership Program, meaning that she is able to accept donations to this project. Please read more about it here and consider sending a donation! Thank you.
*note: This photo of Jessica is, ironically, not taken in her village, but I love it of her! She is right now spending a couple of weeks working as a translator for a group of American surgeons who have traveled to the larger city of Niamey in order to perform surgeries on women and girls with obstetric fistula. She has access to the internet there, and has been writing daily about this experience, which I highly recommend reading about. Again, I cannot believe what she is able to do there. She inspires and astounds me.
**Can you tell I love this woman?! I really miss her!