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10,000-mile Bridges

10,000-mile Bridges

Oct 20, 2011

Building irrigation Retention Resevoir (photo courtesy pangeo.typepad.org)

Jack cleared the visa line in the Amman airport, grabbed his bags at baggage claim, and joined our team of volunteers for a week helping poor villages in Jordan.

Margie sat grinning in a circle of volunteers in an Ethiopian village near the Somali border. Her lips were wet with anticipation as the village matron hand-roasted coffee beans that snapped and crackled in her roasting pan. The woman was serving our team in a famous Ethiopian “coffee ceremony” to  welcome us for a week of helping build a primary school.

Bob ‘s eyes grew moist as the oldest man in a Kenyan village expressed tearful thanks through our translator: “In my whole lifetime I never imagined I would shake hands with even a wealthy black man,” he said. “But now people from across the world have walked with me in my village, helping us grow food so we won’t starve. Thank you for being our friends.”

Storehouses being built for food (photo courtesy pangeo.typepad.org)

What do Jack, Margie and Bob have in common? They’re all empty-nesters, bringing their hands and hearts to some of the poorest villages on the other side of the world.

And they’re building 10,000-mile bridges in the process.

Onion Harvest, Kenya (Photo courtesy pangeo.typepad.org)

Empty-nesters everywhere are waking up to the beautiful realization that the world is getting smaller every day and that all the world’s poor are truly our next-door neighbors. As mid-life adults, they are also seeing HOW MUCH they have to offer in building bridges of love and healing, across town and across the world. And those bridges are changing our planet like never before.  Check out this video (Setting irrigation systems for crops)
Photo top right: Global Hope volunteers are helping the Kenyans clear the land and dig irrigation systems in order to help produce up to 5 times more food!

Jeff in Jordanian village (photo courtesy of www.pangeo.typepad.org)

As a new empty-nester four years ago, I serendipitously landed this world-criss-crossing job. Our youngest was off to college, and I ended up making a major career change into international humanitarian aid work,  mobilizing volunteer Americans to help some of the poorest villages of Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

But though for some of us this chapter might evoke a job change, for most of us the empty-nest years  unearth an amazing wealth of volunteer opportunities.

When your nest empties, you have a magical moment. You now have that rarified combination of time plus experience, which affords you a priceless opportunity for a fresh look at how you invest your greatest asset — yourself.

Here are just a few of the things that non-skilled volunteer teams on our international trips have done:

  • Give life-saving food and clothing to earthquake victims in western China villages
  • Help build classrooms and teacher dormitories in African villages, so never-before-educated children could finally have a primary school
  • Lay out basic drip irrigation lines, so a drought-ridden village in India could avert starvation
  • Help dig a ditch over a mile long, for clean water to finally be piped into a parched village (See video of ditch being built)

The world is TRULY small, isn’t it? And like never before we have the means and the opportunity to change the world one person, one village, one volunteer effort at a time.

You have now entered the best chapter of your life. What beautiful and creative ways will YOU use this amazing time called the empty-nest years?

Jeff Power

US Partnerships Director

Global Hope Network International (GHNI.org)

(For more information about the Compassion Trips Jeff and his team lead, contact him at: jeff.power@GHNI.org).

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