giving back

Shot@Life’s Blogust Campaign Saves 10,000 Children From Preventable Diseases

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We did it! We just saved 10,000 lives. How? Who? Let me share...

Over the past 30 days, I participated in the United Nation Foundation's Shot@Life's Blogust: Blog Relay for Good. Thirty-one bloggers each took a day to write a blog post. Yesterday's, for example, was written by my friend Stacey Ferguson and tomorrow's is by the fabulous Jim Lin. For every comment on each post, $20 was donated to Shot@Life (up to a maximum of $200,000). Why $20? Because, $20 is what it costs to give one child four life-saving vaccines to help protect them against measles, pneumonia, diarrhea, and polio—preventable diseases that account for the deaths of millions of children worldwide ages five and under.

The great news? Yesterday, we hit our 10,000th comment. Thanks to all the thousands of people who showed their support through commenting. That's 10,000 children saved. Saving that many children's lives is something to be amazingly grateful for.

Gratitude: The Key to a Happy, Joyful Life

And on that note... Let's talk about gratitude for a second.

Throughout this campaign, I've been pondering a lot about gratitude. I find it very appropriate that we hit the 10,000 comment mark yesterday, just in time for me to share my thoughts.

Raise your hand if you want to lead a happy and joyful life?

These children do. They live in a slum in the heart of Nairobi and are the minority... children receiving an education. Look at their smiles. Aren't they beautiful? Their gratitude and joy was almost tangible.

Kenyan Children in School

Brene Brown shares that the secret to joy is gratitude. Could it be that simple? I didn't think so. I mean, people endure so much suffering. Life really isn't fair in so many situations. How could gratitude really be the answer? Here's what Brene says...

We can spend our entire lives in scarcity . . . just waiting for for the other shoe to drop and wondering when it will all fall apart. Or, we can lean into the uncertainty and be thankful for what we have in that precious moment. When I'm standing at the crossroads of fear and gratitude, I've learned that I must choose vulnerability and practice gratitude if I want to know joy.

How to Have Joy in the Midst of Pain and Suffering

Last summer, I went to Africa. Kenya to be precise. One of the places where many children never make it to their 5th birthday due to preventable diseases.

While there, I discovered a lot of pain and suffering. Children on the brink of death. Families facing hunger. Communities living in crowded quarters without bare necessities. I thought I had seen a lot of that in my previous travels. But what I experienced there was different... more dire, more desperate, and more hopeful. Yes! You read that right. More hopeful.

Kenyan Women Dancing

I scratched my head at the joy I saw and wondered how, in the most dire of circumstances, the Kenyan people could exude emotions like peace, forgiveness, happiness, and joy when they were facing hunger, ups and downs in terms of civil unrest, insufficient medical care and education. Oh! And I forgot to mention... death.

And that's when I discovered it was Brene's quote in action: Gratitude! Evidence of it was everywhere—in the light of the children's eyes and oozing out of every move and from every sound in the welcome dances and songs. I didn't get the sense that the Kenyan people didn't realize they were hungry or were simply pushing their dire circumstances under the rug so to speak. They were just able to recognize all that was beautiful in the midst of all that was painful. And because of that, they were beautiful, amazing, happy, and hopeful.

3 Keys to Leading a Grateful Life

What I learned from the Kenyan people about gratitude was:

  1. Kenyan Children in the Countryside Find joy in the details. Happiness doesn't depend on life being perfect. In fact, things can be downright difficult, almost unbearable. I'm not encouraging anyone to skip the grieving process as it plays such a vital role in moving through life's toughest times. But whenever possible, really look to find joy in the smallest of details. They are there... in Africa, in the US... and in the corners of your home where you work through your darkest days and take joy in your brightest hours.
    Stop for a moment. Look around. I'll wait. What detail in your life are you most grateful for in this moment?
  2. Have a gratitude practice. Regardless of where you live, time is a precious commodity. Our lives are busy. Make time for gratitude, which can be shown in many ways: through prayer, writing a gratitude journal, reflecting on your blessings, and sharing with others what you're grateful for.
    What can you do today to practice gratitude? 
  3. Give back. Serving others helps you focus on another's needs and can cause you, even if for a small moment, to forget your own troubles. The very act of lightening another's load can lift your spirits. As evidenced by the Shot@Life campaign this month, you do not need to go further than your own front door to make a HUGE difference. What started with a single blog post and a single comment just gave 10,000 children a shot at life. Talk about gratitude!
    Now, think of someone who has done something kind for you recently? Who was it? What did they do? Have you thanked him or her? How can you give back to someone in need? 

Let's wrap up this campaign this week with even more comments. Here's one question you could answer... gratitude practice in action:

What are you grateful for?

Help us keep the power of Blogust going by visiting today. Thank you for being here. Thank you for caring. 

You can learn more about Shot@Life by joining their email list, following them on twitter or liking them on Facebook.


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An active part of the Mom It Forward team, Jyl primarily writes about parenting, social good, and all things travel related. In a past life, Jyl was an award-winning copywriter and designer of corporate training programs for Fortune 100 companies. Offline, Jyl is married to @TroyPattee; a mom to two teen boys and a beagle named #Hashtag; loves large amounts of cheese, dancing, and traveling; and lives in the beautiful Rocky Mountains. Topping her bucket list is the goal to visit 50 countries by the time she's 50.


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