What is a Hero of Compassion? I posed this question to Andrea and Sebastian, two 8th graders from the Oneness-Family School who chose to work with Amman Imman to fulfill the internship and community service requirement at their school.
"Kind of like a super hero,” offered Sebastian. "Super heroes use their super human strength to save the lives of ordinary people. Heroes of Compassion give their best to help people, and by helping discover their own super power."
By the end of our time together it was clear that although these two appear as ordinary teenagers, behind the mask of adolescence they are extraordinary individuals who are changing the world.
These two exhibited super powers all week. Andrea, serious and philosophical, readily shared her desire to walk the unpaved path through life. Sebastian, steadfast yet whimsical, added an element of fun. Between the two of them, they contributed the right balance required to achieve the impossible. My goal was to prepare them to present our new Hand in Hand campaign to the lower elementary class (1st through 3rd graders) at Oneness-Family. By Thursday, they would be ready to do the presentation entirely on their own. We would film the process, and eventually incorporate the video as an instructional tool for schools and a record of our work together.
It’s not always easy to get middle school students to turn off their ipods or to disengage from their friends, and accomplish something. But beneath the surface of these teenage distractions brews the ingredients for inspired leadership. Often kept at arms length, compassion encircles the teenage character. When you get a 13 year old to shed their armor, it is like they step out of the telephone booth, suited and empowered. They just need an opportunity to bring out their super hero qualities and begin saving people.
Andrea and Sebastian worked hard all week. On Thursday, they spoke with the class of 30 students about their own super hero abilities. They described Hand in Hand, where students make handicrafts and sell them in their community to raise awareness and funds for a borehole in the Azawak. This Well of Love will bring water, potentially saving the lives of thousands and thousands of people and animals. No small feat, but for these Heroes a challenge worthy their courage and compassion.
As we finished, I asked them to write about their experiences:
Sebastian Ashley, 8th grade. Sebastian chose Amman Imman as his community service project.
The reason that I chose to work with Amman Imman was because I thought that this project was the most urgent and important. Some of the possible community service options had to do with helping the homeless or old, but this one helps those who are dying, and this project has very few people actually working as a staff or members, so they could use more help. Amman Imman is important because it helps the people of the Azawak’s need for water and also helps their economy.
By participating in Wells of Love I have become a Hero of Compassion. In a small company like Amman Imman, if you want something done then you can’t just sit around and hope someone else will do it for you. You have to take the initiative and become a leader. I’ve also become more philanthropic. I see how many people have given up prized possessions and much money for others, so I now see that the least I can do is give up a little spare time.
Andrea Manchester, 8th grade. Andrea chose Amman Imman for her 8th grade internship
I chose this project because I believe that helping others less fortunate than ourselves is not merely an option, but a necessary course of action. It’s important to give back to the global community, particularly if you are born in a society that supplies you with both basic needs as well as whims. Some people wonder why I’ve chosen to help Amman Imman (AI) when there are humanitarian issues so close to home. My answer is simple: people in the Azawak aren’t getting help from anyone else. Specifically, I am addressing the Azawak’s desperate need for water. It’s a simple concept, really. The residents of that area have no water for ten months out the year, so I say let’s give it to them! Saving lives is an amazing thing, and by advocating for AI and helping to fundraise, I am helping to do just that.
My participation in Wells of Love (WoL) helps me to be a Hero of Compassion by encouraging me to motivate others in working towards a common goal, as well as helping me to realize that achieving the greater good takes more than a single generous soul. It’s helped me to learn that I’ll only reach my goals if I advocate for myself and take initiative. You’d be surprised by how few people can do that.
I learned that I don’t need an incentive to help others. It actually comes kind of naturally. I feel a want, if not an urge, to provide aid for those in need of it. It’s also helped me to realize how insignificant I am as an individual, that I can only do little things to work towards something greater. By dedicating myself to this worthy cause, and working collaboratively towards the boreholes, I set a long-term goal for myself. I encourage you to take this up, too!