PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot The Rapids — It Takes A Village

I’ve been thinking lately about the importance of interdependence and relying on others to help you.

We are so often tied into the myth that we need to be self-reliant, which totally misses the greatest joy of life — giving and receiving help because we don’t need to be able to do everything for ohurselves.

On Thursday, I did a presentation at a Rotary gathering in Baudette, Minn., for the charity of which I’m president, South Sudan Leadership and Community Development. We work with South Sudanese widows, orphans, women and children living in Ugandan refugee camps.

I was able to do it because my son’s wonderful partner, Kate, put together an amazing power point — she has a MA in communication and power points aren’t my wheelhouse — and my sister was able to bring it to the meeting and facilitate the process.

And we are hopeful because of the collaborative work of Rotarians there and with other Rotary groups we will be able to access some game-changing grants for the camps with solar energy.

Then I was able to connect with a friend of a dear friend, who offered to help with a 1.5 matching fund project for SSLCD through her work that could mean a cash infusion for us and turn a $3,333 into $8,333.

The impact of this on our small budget is astounding, since we do so much with so little. And the offer came from someone I barely know, but who is dear to someone dear to me.

Then I got a text from a woman I met on my Antarctic cruise telling me about a possible funding source for small organizations in Africa and how she thought of me when she heard about it. She didn’t need to do that, but she did.

They say it takes a village to raise a child, but I think it takes a village to be fully human and engaged in life. We need to be open to relying on each other, asking for help when we need it and giving it when we can.

In “Moby Dick,” Herman Melville talks about the monkey rope attached to the sailors waists as they were whaling. Their fates were tied to each other as they helped maintain balance and safety. It symbolized  the links between people for survival and as much as I hated “Moby Dick,” that image made an indelible impression on me.

This is why we need each other. In the flesh and in the cyber world. It moves us beyond ourselves. And when that happens we become more fully human, in the best way.

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