I am on the road again heading for Los Angeles after a rather long period of inactivity (riding wise). I came to Bakersfield, CA to fix some motorcycle problems and had no intention of staying more than a night or two but ended up staying for 29 days, aside from my time in Barstow.
Andy Pogany once jokingly mentioned that Cynthia was keeping me like the Sirens from Homer’s Odyssey. Legend has it that the Sirens sing from the sharp rocks by their island to lure sailors. As the sailors hear the singing, they cannot resist so they draw closer to the rocks until they shipwreck. Legend also holds that if a sailor hears the singing but is able to escape, the Sirens perish.
Now, I am no sailor, and Cynthia doesn’t sing, and as far as I know, she is very much alive! What did keep me here was my nightmarish logistical planning for crossing the border into Mexico and getting everything done before I leave the country for the next 5 years. I also wanted to get a jump-start on my Spanish which Cynthia offered to help with.
Cynthia has been very enthusiastic and supportive about the cause ever since I set foot in Bakersfield. She came up with different ideas literally every day on how to help, from donating her payment for a photo-shoot to Dispensario Bethania (the malnourishment recovery institution in Guatemala), to coming up with ideas on how to raise more money and awareness about starvation. November 11th was Cynthia’s birthday. At her party, every guest who attended was asked not to bring a present, but rather to donate to the cause in lieu of gifts. As a photographer and social worker, being involved is not new to Cynthia, but I am glad to have her on my side.
Aside from working on my meager Spanish skills, I’ve been diligently spreading the word about my expedition and in particular, the issue of Hunger. I’m excited to see that more people are coming on board with ideas on how to get involved with the cause from all parts of the globe: from Paraguay to the Netherlands to Iran to Australia. It’s been rewarding to establish connections via different mediums such as forums, emails, and my blog, and to know that my work is paying off.
During this time, I also managed to bring my website up to the shape that it is today with a lot of help from Andy Pogany. My stay in Monterey, CA brought upon a great friendship with Andy and ever since then, he has taken on the role of proof-reader/editor for the website. I stayed up many nights editing CSS, HTML and PHP codes, refining the layout and functionality of the website. I can say that it is finally what I envisioned a year ago when I was planning to launch it.
On one of those long editing nights, I received a $20 donation from a guy named Matthew Hanscom. Moments later, I received another email notifying me that Matt sent a friend request via Facebook. I was already on-line so I added him and we started chatting. As it turned out, Matt is another GSR member (GSR is short for GS Resources, a motorcycle forum community that focuses on the old GS line of Suzuki motorcycles) who rides the same motorcycle as I do and wanted to help.
While I was thanking him, I mentioned how I do not ask people to alter their lifestyle or to give away half of what they have, but that any little thing that someone can spare goes a long way. I was blown away when Matt responded that his donation of $20.00 was exactly half of what he had in his bank account at that moment. If that is not selflessness, I don’t know what is. Oh, and by the way, that is not all Matt did. He read one of my posts that my windshield was broken and offered to send me his. Although I didn’t end up taking him up on his offer as my windshield is still functional, it is heart-warming to see such generous acts of kindness.
I fully understand that times are tough for many of us. With all the lay-offs, rising cost of everything and our own to care for, it is hard to part with our disposable income. Yet, some are figuring out ways to still contribute regardless of their financial circumstances.
Jared Williams is one such person. Yet another GSR member, he is a man with a heart for helping people. Jared reflects, “We should all be doing the best we can to keep things together and help out those that we can. Some of that is people you are in direct contact with on a daily basis, and part of that is through monetary support for people in need further away.”
With 3 kids at home to provide for, Jared and his wife strive to live a life in which they make good use of their resources. They eschew excessive consumption and waste in favor of reducing what they use as a family, and ultimately giving some of what is not used to help others in need.
When Jared first contacted me he wrote: “Things are tight now as with others but I will set something aside and send it along.” Soon after, he wrote again to report that he had finished building a bar and gave his customer a bare bottom price for his work and told the customer that if he liked the work, to consider paying a little extra so that Jared could donate to the cause. Jared’s customer ended up paying an extra $100 that Jared donated on my website which will go to the World Food Programme.
Jared used his skills to come up with a solution, Cynthia made her birthday party into a fundraiser, Matt gave half of the cash he had, and Andy made it easier for you to read my blog by polishing my writing.
Where there is a will, there is always a way. This story was their way. This ride is my way. Make this month a month for giving – find your way.