ReTurn received a lot of donations for the International Youth Day School Drive. Many were from members of the Ghanaian diaspora, but we also received a lot from people who had never been to Ghana themselves. Their connection to Ghana was little to nothing, but yet they felt inspired to help. So, we sat down with one of those donors to ask what inspired her to give. Here is what she had to say:
My name is Yeimy Marisol Melendez and I am from La Paz, El Salvador and I remember being on the other side of the situation once upon the time. I remember being the child filled with joy and excitement at the sight of a group of strangers approaching us with boxes; asking us if we were ready to pick a toy from one box, supplies from the other.
I remember, as a four/five year old thinking to myself “what did I do to deserve these gifts?” These are memories I cherish forever. They’re memories that have shaped me into a giving human being. To remember to not only count my blessings, but to be more than grateful for my blessings.
I was born in a town, well more like a village, with people who knew nothing but farming. My family's very first home was built from mud by our grandfather. He grew all of our crops and we would exchange crops for milk with our neighbors that had cattle. There were no showers, washing machines, dishwashers. In fact, by ten years old I knew how to wash my laundry by hand.
Our frigid cold showers was in a huge pool of water, so shower time at 5:30 AM right before school was awful. There were no buses or taxis that would come to our town so we had to walk to our school that was about 1.5 hours away. There were rare occasions where a neighbor with a car would offer to take us to school. Our off days consisted of climbing trees or riding the one bicycle our parents bought for us.
As a kid, it became one of my dreams to be able to give back some way, some how to a community in need. I figured that, If I was ever able to give the joy, excitement, and life-changing memories to other children like the strangers had done for me, I would do my best to go far and beyond to make that happen. I wanted to help inspire children to work hard to become one of those people changing the lives of others. I believed that by doing this, I would have fulfilled a purpose so dear to my heart.
I don’t know much about Ghana, but knowing it is the homeland of a few people I know made me want to help even more. I’ve always been careful about who and what foundations I donate to, because most of the time they don’t live up to the promises they make and end up keeping most of the profit. Knowing that Return is living up to their promises, I will gladly donate and help spread the word to get others to donate again in the future.
Advice to others interested in working on/supporting likeminded projects:
While we are not witnessing the things happening worldwide, we should still help our neighbors. We never know what experiences someone has gone through. It’s best to help without being asked, because it just shows the wonderful person that you are.