Having lived and worked in Kenya, and traveled throughout Ethiopia last year I have been especially moved by the devastating famine in East Africa. Moved to find a way to raise awareness and the much needed funds for the victims, the starving women and children forced to walk countless miles in search of food and aid.
How can we Help?
My emotional reaction to the images being reported on a few news outlets generated thoughts about how we can help. I contacted my sister, and then Brian, and we threw ideas at each other. We had a clear mission to raise awareness about the victims of the famine, and decided to make it more real to us and those around us by embarking on something that ONLY represented the struggle the East Africans were enduring. After several ideas and discussions, we decided that since starving women and children are trekking countless miles in search of food and aid, walking would be the best representation of the current crisis. And since their trek is arduous we needed to do something arduous. We decide on crossing Michigan from Holland (on the west side of the state, nestled along the shores of Lake Michigan) to Detroit (the city that moved the world, on the eastern edge of the mitten shaped state).
The needs are now, so we needed to act with urgency. To begin our project, we needed to come up with a theme and campaign that friends, family and new friends could support and learn from. Since I was working in St. Louis, Jessica in Detroit, MI and Brian in Ann Arbor, MI, we used a new collaboration tool Google + hangout along with Google Docs to have a three way video conference and document/update ideas in real time. The question was: Are we committed? The quick answer was.....YES! The next thing to consider was, what should our campaign be called. As Michiganders we always carry the map of our home state wherever we go...our hand. The state of Michigan (at least the lower peninsula...no offense, Yoopers) looks like a mitten so we always refer to our hand to show where we are from in Michigan. It thus came naturally, since we were walking across the state, that we would call the fundraising campaign "Hand Up 4 East Africa". That way we'd always have a map to inform friends of our route.
So we will walk....traversing Michigan...roughly 168 miles starting September 8, 2011 in the hope that we can raise awareness of the famine's victims and to raise funds to provide the urgent and critical aid. Please follow our journey and please share information about the famine with your friends and family. This way, united we can support those in East Africa affected by the worst drought in 60 years.
We walk as one people
Hand Up 4 East Africa Team