Lights delivered door-to-door in the darkness of a hurricanecourtesy Annalysa Longworth
When Hurricane Harvey hit Texas, Reader’s Digest wrote about these moving, dramatic rescues. The spirit of serving can be incredibly moving. Here is a story from Annalysa Longworth, a survivor of Hurricane Maria, in her own words: “The total 36 hours of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico was undoubtedly the scariest event we’ve ever gone through in our lives. Our house sits on the north-west coast of Rincón where I rode out the storm with my boyfriend, Javi, and our three dogs. In the darkness, over 100 mph winds changed direction causing a tremendous amount of water flooding our house. The only place left dry and safe was our kitchen floor, where we were forced to ride out the rest of the storm. I laid blankets on the cold damp tile, and we huddled together clenching the only flashlight we had at the time. The downstairs of our home had blown out from underneath us, leaving nothing but its structure with walls, doors, and windows scattered around the yard. It’s been 50 days since the storm, and we are still without power and water. During our regular afternoon showers, we are ecstatic to collect rainwater but are quickly reminded of the people living without roofs, and how devastating it must be for them. Our emotions are consistently in a state of confusion. Recently, our good friends approached us downtown to tell us about a video interview they were doing with Watts of Love, a solar light company. Watts of Love generously gave us a headlamp (which illuminates an entire room) for our personal use and a box with 50 headlamps to distribute throughout our town. Rincón was completely blacked out so making a simple walk through a parking lot to your car is dangerous and impossible. We used to have to rush to get things done before sunset, but now I can continue daily chores in the dark. What changed our lives most was being able to share this gift with others. We delivered the lamps house by house to the people in the mountains who needed them most, as even batteries and candles are scarce. Even though supplies have trickled in, people have been out of work and can’t afford to pay their electric bill. I’ll always be grateful to Watts of Love for allowing us to pay it forward and be witnesses to the smiles that light can bring.”
Through education, two young women transform their communityCourtesy She's the First/Kate Lord Photography
Esther, a fifth grader from Uganda, hasn’t gone through puberty yet but recently led a workshop for women in her community on how to make sustainable, reusable pads. She led the workshop with Dorcus, a seventh-grader at Arlington Academy of Hope in Uganda where Esther attends school. The pair raised money for the workshop’s supplies by selling homemade jewelry. Their service project wasn’t just about the importance of feminine hygiene; it was also about the power of education. In rural Uganda, it’s common for a young woman living under the poverty line not to have access to sanitary pads, a fact that contributes to school absenteeism, which is a practice Esther, 11, and Dorcas, 14, would like to help reduce. The young women are scholars with She’s the First, a non-profit that supports girls who will be the first in their families to graduate high school. Esther told Readers Digest, “She’s the First encouraged me not to think that education is only for boys. In my country, women are considered to be very low and men to be very high. I want to make all men and women equal.” Since 2013, Esther and Dorcus’ education has been supported by She’s the First, which currently sponsors over 900 scholars. Co-founder Christen Brandt told us that the organization pays for tuition, health care, and (when applicable) boarding costs for every scholar until they graduate. Brandt explains, “Their lives were not changed because of a charitable gift, but because of the combination of donations, sustainable social change organizations, and their own hard work—and of course, in the process, they’re creating a ripple effect in their own community.” Check out these shopping sites that support women’s causes worldwide.