To Tanzania with Love | The Laurita Spina Bifida Project wants to donate wheelchairs

“How sad it is that we give up on people who are just like us.” — Fred Rogers (“Mr. Rogers”)

I don’t really remember what it’s like not being able to walk. As parental anecdotes recall, I was about two years old when I took my first steps. My parents were overjoyed, of course, but probably more than most parents, because I have spina bifida. According to my doctors at the time, I wasn’t supposed to be able to walk.

I may not remember what it was like crawling around the house or not being able to stand up, but, at age 30 now, I am beginning to grasp what it means to have limited mobility. My knees and back hurt constantly, and my wheelchair is getting much more mileage than it used to.

As I recently learned through a good friend I’ve never met, there are people in Tanzania, and in many other countries, who do not know the privilege of owning a wheelchair— what a blessing it is to have the equipment to facilitate mobility.

Little did I know until these past few weeks, that there are people on the other side of the world who would give anything to have the freedom I am often complaining about— the freedom to move.

That’s why my non-profit organization, The Laurita Spina Bifida Project, has offered to help the Association for Spina Bifida And Hydrocephalus Tanzania (ASBAHT) by raising funds so they can purchase wheelchairs, walkers, crutches, and a prosthetic leg for a young girl with spina bifida.

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Image courtesy Sifa Sylvia, ASBAHT 

A shifting perspective

It really gives me pause to reflect on how grateful I am for my “inconveniences.”

Over there, where my friend lives, people aren’t griping because someone took the accessible parking space. Or because their wheelchair won’t fit in their friend’s car when she offers to give me a ride.

They don’t complain about these problems because they don’t exist. Because access to the mobility devices they need doesn’t exist.

Many moms of children with spina bifida and hydrocephalus must push their children in strollers instead of carrying them. If they don’t have access to the brain surgery to have a shunt placed, the children’s heads grow until the parents can no longer carry them. Even these strollers are very hard to come by. As for me, I am only vaguely reminded I have a shunt in my head when the weather changes and I feel a slight headache.

This holiday season, I am fully committed to making the freedom of mobility a reality and not just a dream for at least several people in the Tanzanian spina bifida community…people who are much like me.

Maybe this will make a huge, life-altering difference for them. Maybe it won’t. All I know is, everyone needs someone in their life who refuses to give up on them.

I have you guys. Now, it’s my turn to be that person for somebody else.

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Image courtesy Sifa Sylvia, ASBAHT 

How you can help

What we need, first and foremost, is monetary donations. Whether it’s $5 or $500, every dollar makes a big impact when you add it all up. Trust me on this! How incredible is it that for the price of a latte macchiato you bring us one step closer to giving a deserving human being the gift of mobility?

 

Here’s a rough estimate of what each item costs, in U.S. dollars:

• Wheelchairs – $140.00 each

  • Walkers – $70.00 each

• A prosthetic leg for a youth with spina bifida – $460.00

Other ways to help out

If you own a company or know of a company or organization that might be interested in partnering with us to help raise the funds, please reach out to me at laurita.tellado@gmail.com. I truly believe “it takes a village,” and you are all my shining example of that!

Consider this campaign for your company’s end-of-year charitable contributions. Every donation is tax-deductible.

Also, since there are just so many wonderful social good campaigns during this time of the year, we need your help with getting the word out. Please, post to Facebook, Tweet, share, blog, Pin, Instagram post, etc.! There is truly no action that is too small to make a difference.

Please share / post using the hashtags #TheLSBProject , #SpinaBifida, and #Give5ToThrive (because we want to encourage that no amount is too small!).

Keep up with this campaign by following and connecting with us on social media:

The Laurita Spina Bifida Project on Facebook

@TheLSBProject on Twitter 

@TheLSBProject on Instagram

Remember what it’s all about

Finally, keep in your mind and heart that we are doing this to pay it forward. We have been so Blessed throughout this entire process, and I’m grateful for each and every person who has been part of The Laurita Spina Bifida Project’s journey thus far.

In the words of my friend Sifa of Tanzania, the angel behind-the-scenes who has put me in contact with the ASBAHT: “It will be an honor for ASBAHT to partner with you or any other organization or individuals out there with the heart to help the forgotten children, youth, and adults living with SBH in Tanzania.”

Thank you, Sifa. We’ll do our best.

Love,

Laurita ♥

30 Days of Thanks– & Reflections

Yes, I’ve been *quiet* on here for a while. No, my silence is not to be interpreted as meaning that nothing has happened with me. Everything has happened, and I’ve done my best to keep you all updated on the highlights via my Facebook page and Twitter account.

For starters, I turned 26 last month. I didn’t think I would be looking forward to it, but the week before my birthday, my family planned a last-minute trip to Puerto Rico, since we’re not going this Christmas. I ended up staying longer than a week, and ringing in my birthday with some of my favorite ladies!

We didn’t really plan on staying for Thanksgiving, so that was an unexpected surprise, too. While from a tourist’s perspective, this wasn’t probably the most eventful vacation on the island, I have to say, I think I explored Puerto Rico a lot more than I had anticipated. (I will be updating more on that on my other blog, Espresso con Leche soon!)

The highlight of everything was having the unexpected opportunity to spend both my birthday and Thanksgiving, as well as several other treasured moments, with family and close friends. I didn’t realize just how homesick I had been.

After I returned, as I caught up on my Facebook feed, I read posts from anguished parents who are already having to spend the holidays with a child who has complications from spina bifida. That’s always hard for me to read, as I look at everything I’ve been blessed with, and feel unworthy.

But, I realize that the most important thing is to not take any of it– or anyone– for granted.

It is with this thought in mind that I finally caved into the earliest holiday social media trend– by participating in the “30 Days of Thanks” daily habit. Each day, or night, I would post one thing I was grateful for in my life. I quickly found that keeping up with this routine is easier said than done, and I would often have to catch up the following day with two things I was grateful for. But, no matter– there were plenty of things to come up with.

Each day, I posted my gratitude for abstract concepts like “time” and “faith,” or for more tangible (or audible?) things, like my parents, my laptop, and my bilingualism.

On “Day 10,” I thanked my amazing Spina Bifida community! Words truly can’t adequately express just how Blessed I feel that you’re all a part of this journey with me. I’ve learned a lot, especially from the moms, who have given me the gift of a perspective I never imagined I’d have. You’ve all taught me so much about what true sacrifice and devotion is.

And last night– as I sat down to reflect on what I’m grateful for, for the very last time, I realized I wasn’t even close to being finished. But, I did want to end in a way that is open-ended and subject to wide interpretation. I thanked God for my faith, because without it, nothing could have sustained me throughout the challenging times.

I realize that people, events, things, and often even places will let you down, but faith is a steadfast pillar of support, the cornerstone of endurance. So, whether it’s faith in God, faith in the inherent goodness of humanity, faith in the power of something so simple as a smile, I hope you have this and that it helps keep you warm at night, like it has for me.

To the parents who have been Blessed with a child with spina bifida, I say, keep doing what you’re doing, and keep cherishing those wonderful moments, because believe me, there will be more of these if you just hang on.

Thank you all for your continued support, and thank you God for Blessing me with another amazing year of life.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

 

**Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Britax (follow on Twitter) and I will be compensated. I am a member of the Britax Latina Advisory Board. All ideas and opinions are my own.