We have been fortunate to meet amazing people during our journey. We thought it was about time to start having some of them as guest bloggers to tell their stories – how are they impacting the world. Our first guest post is from Barry Reese, a wonderful guy we met while we were in Boulder, CO. He is a board member of the nonprofit Mountain2Mountain whose mission is to create education and opportunity for women and girls in conflict regions. Here are his words.
A Single Drop of Water – By Barry Reese
A single drop of water, though seemingly benign on its own, can be the start of a force which can effect enormous changes down the road. That was the conversation I was having years ago around a campfire with some fellow river guides near Taos, NM. Naturally we turned that idea to the geologic formation of the Grand Canyon, a prize for any raft guide.
For as awe-inspiringly vast and cavernously deep as the Grand Canyon is in its current form, it’s difficult, if not impossible to think that millions of years ago a single drop of water trickling half a continent away could have such an effect. Well, there are times as a board member of Mountain2Mountain when I feel exactly like that initial, single drop of water.
Bringing about small change in our own communities is sometimes a difficult task. For a small, grass roots non-profit to even dream about bringing Grand Canyon-esque changes in challenging places like Afghanistan, Cambodia or the West Bank seems like nothing more than a fool’s folly. But that’s what Shannon Galpin, the founder of Mountain2Mountain, and our little troupe of passionate souls set out to do almost six years ago. www.mountain2mountain.org
I’d be lying if I said we don’t sometimes feel as if our drop of water for change seems like it could evaporate at any time. I think that’s the reality of any non-profit organization. And in the early days it seemed almost inevitable it would happen. However, we still believed every single day that we could cause a ripple which could be the start of enormous changes…even in those conflict and post conflict regions. And so we pushed on.
Afghanistan is considered the worst of the worst when it comes to women’s and children’s basic human rights. The opportunities for education are rare, adequate medical care is atypical and one of the most overlooked of needs in this grotesquely misunderstood country is the simple notion of hope, especially for women and girls.
I’m very pleased that we’ve been able to build schools in regions where basic education was otherwise unavailable. I’m extremely proud of the midwifery education programs we’ve taken to rural areas of the Panjshir Region where death during child birth rates are astonishingly and unnecessarily high. I’m amped to be part of the deaf school we’re helping to build in Kabul (Afghanistan’s first!). I’m super stoked with the progress of our education and sustainability projects associated with the ALL woman owned and operated solar powered internet cafés we’re currently building in two major Afghan cities. However, there is nothing more rewarding as a board member and fulfilling to my soul on a personal level than Shannon’s visits to women’s prisons. It’s there where I can see so clearly how the simple act of caring can make a monumental difference in someone’s life.
Sadly, a large number of the women in these prisons are imprisoned for moral crimes. Those “crimes” can include things such as premarital sex, child bearing out of wedlock, affairs or in some cases they’re actually imprisoned for being raped — to save honor for the families. To make their situation even more difficult, these women are often imprisoned with their small children and have no access to legal representation, education or in many cases, adequate healthcare. For someone like Shannon to come and simply listen to their stories and genuinely care means more to these women than you can possibly imagine. To plant a seed of hope is to plant a seed of change.
These are the situations when we as an organization oftentimes feel helpless, if not completely hopeless, to come up with answers or solutions. But this is also when we have to remember that that single drop of water we can offer in the way of change or hope can eventually amount to a monumental difference in people’s lives. It takes that first drop of water to make a wave of change and we gladly take on that task.
I’m obviously pretty honored to be part of Mountain2Mountain and to have done the things we’ve done in the past and all the projects still to come. However, one of the things I never expected from this journey has been the gift of meeting other people who are also incredibly passionate about bringing change to our world. I’ve met people like Allie Bombach and Sarah Menzies from Red Reel Video who are making real changes to our way we think about our lives through their documentary film work. And through them (and the whole super fun Airstream connection), I was fortunate enough to meet Brenda Daugherty and Cece Reinhardt from “On the Green Road” project who show us just how accessible making a change to a more sustainable life can be for everyone! Its people like this who are those initial drops of water where Grand Canyons of change can be started…and are the people I’m privileged to call my friends.
I may be just a drop of water in this crazy river of life, but I’m okay with that.
Here’s the trailer for the upcoming docu series called Move Shake which highlights our founder, Shannon Galpin, and the work we do at Mountain2Mountain.