You can see by the subject line, I’m back in Redding for the winter but I thought it fitting to share some exciting news with you as it relates to my African life and the impact so many of you have had on what I have been able to do over there.
For more than six years now, I spend half my time living among the people I serve. In doing so, I witness many disturbing things: the challenges of serious poverty and all its implications; the difficulty accessing quality education from primary school through college; the grossly inadequate provision of competent health care in the public sector; the widespread impact of HIV and its most common secondary infection – TB; and the image of family structure on a bell curve, with the majority being “Loose” and the outliers at the edges being “Cohesive” on one side of the curve and “Non-existent” on the other.
Amazingly in the face of all this, I see so many stars who shine with love, sweetness, talent, intelligence, hopes, and dreams, and these individuals have become firmly entrenched in my heart. Some of them have even become entrenched in yours.
My role in Africa has evolved and will probably continue to do so. In the beginning, although my hook was personal, my focus was professional. Maybe some of my fellow retirees can relate to the experience of the brain taking time to decelerate from “work” mode. Alongside of the professional activities, I began developing relationships and finding ways to empower people to improve their circumstances. Now the balance of my focus has shifted much more to the latter, and over time, Ihave become a mentor, mom, and friend to many children and young adults.
It became very apparent that to become productive members of society, people need four things in addition to the basics of adequate clothing, safe shelter, and good nutrition:
- education, training, and skills
- good health, including the ability to see and hear as well as possible
- caring support, encouragement, and guidance
The humbling generosity of so many of you since the start of this journey has helped me provide a sizable number of adults and children with all of the above. I also must add that it has been such a life altering experience to see the transformative power of item number 4. Unfortunately, it is what so many people, young and old, are lacking. There are two quotes from Mother Teresa that are appropriate here: “Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty;” and “One of the greatest diseases is to be nobody to anybody.”
At this point, you may be interested in seeing what you and I have managed to do on a tangible level since August, 2007:
2 children, 6 adults
56 children, 16 adults, (incl. 3 oral surgeries, 2 in braces, 7 restored smiles)
1 child, 10 adults
Scholarships (college, university, vocational training)
50 children, 399 items, plus various school supplies
Clothing – urgent need
20 children, 8 adults
2 children, 4 adults
5 individuals, 2 families
9 individuals, 1 family
Rotary Youth Leadership camp
In October I had the opportunity to go to Uganda to consult on-site with two remarkable individuals who are trying to build a primary school in their rural village of origin. The current school is a tree! The establishment of a school there is now one of my projects, as you will see in the first attachment to this email. Please read it and send me recipes. (This will make sense when you read it.)
To all of you who have contributed over the years by purchasing beadwork, baskets, wooden spoons, paintings, or have made outright gifts of money and professional skills, you are truly angels and I wish you could know first-hand the difference you have made to so many lives. And your love, encouragement, and friendship have made a difference in mine.
Now for the news… To continue the work more effectively and more extensively, I have registered a nonprofit organization called One Future at a Time, which was recently granted tax-exempt status as a 501(c)(3) charity. Contributions to these efforts at this point will be tax deductible. Yes, the needs are overwhelming, but when people ask how I cope with that fact, my response is that I focus on what I can do, not on what I can’t do. Again from Mother Teresa, “We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.” Here is how you can help:
Donations can be made out to One Future at a Time and
deposited directly to any branch of Bank of America, account # 3250 1095 5956 or
mailed to Marilyn Traugott (while I’m in the US), 3640 Riverview Dr., Redding, CA 96001-3932
brought to Eileen Bobich at the Mercy Hospice office in Redding’s Downtown Promenade
I am in the process of doing a website and once it’s up, donations can be made on there as well.
Lastly, in answer to the questions everyone was asking about Uganda, yes, we were very close to the mountain gorillas on that trek; no, they were not aggressive as long as they didn’t feel threatened; and no, it wasn’t scary. Put it on your bucket list.
With love and gratitude,
Marilyn Traugott retired as manager of Mercy Hospice in Redding after a long career that began with the program’s inception and included clinical expertise in bereavement care as well as the provision of professional and community education on hospice and end-of-life issues. Since retiring, she spends a significant part of each year in a developing township outside of Pretoria, South Africa, where she volunteers with a local nonprofit organization as well as with the community at large. Over time there, she has become a mentor, mom, and friend to many children and young adults. Marilyn is also the founder and director of One Future at a Time, a, tax exempt nonprofit organization that raises funds to support health and education in impoverished African communities.