Tuesday, July 10, 2012

What do meeting Ashley Judd and Family Planning have in common?

Today has been a most interesting one. In some ways, it was difficult. I am continually plagued by the fears that my final Master's project, my dissertation, is absolute rubbish. That I will ask a question and simply not answer it. Yet a panel discussion tonight convinces me that my work is not unimportant, I just need to figure out how to make it good.

So I met a Hollywood star today! LOL you know the best part? We were all trying to play it cool like it didn't really matter and we simple wanted to ask global health-related questions but secretly, even though a number of us may not have recognised Ashley Judd on the streets of London, we were all so excited to just meet her! I have to admit though, I am very much endeared to her after that meeting.

The talk centred around Family Planning and why there was a need for a London Summit. While I can't quite say that question was directly answered, I left convinced that there was a need for more effort in Family Planning. Being somewhat starstruck, I made it a point to speak to Ashley (yes, there were other panelists, lol but there's something about having watched someone on TV at awards shows...). So I spoke to Ashley and was really impressed by how down-to-earth she was, extremely friendly and not afraid to appear human (sweat patches and all!)

I came home and decided to look her up and ended up spending a lot of time on her website...particularly reading her  interviews with women at an Internally Displaced Persons Camp (IDPC) in Democratic Republic of Congo. Now it's quite easy for me to make judgements about people taking up an 'African cause' just for the experience of the motherland, the chance to take pictures with little black children or for a development CV. But I appreciate her passion and genuine commitment to being a humanitarian. The words in her blog speak to that. I can tell her joy and how connected she feels to the children who simply want to touch her. The pain at hearing stories of women who have been gang-raped, and not just once, with 5, 6, 7 kids and a staunch refusal to treat any one of the 'rape children' worse than the other children...

Her post says:

"I take turns holding kids. Some ask directly, tapping my hand, holding my wrist, tugging my dress, catching my eye. I love it. So do they.
In America, I dream of these moments. I have so much love to give. These are my favorite kids to give it to."
You know what? I really believe her...what gets me in the writing, is her internal battle, the battle I believe anyone who wants to give those suffering goes through; "how much should/can I give?" When I leave this place, what will become of them? How can they know I truly care? Do they know I don't lie when I say I love you? When you see a child who's desperately poor, yet still fully a child, able to laugh and excited to see you, and that child asks for your wedding ring because it's pretty, what do you do? I'd say all your heart strings are pulled. That's how she felt. But you don't want your husband to take it the wrong way of course.
Anyway, I am a new fan of Ashley Judd. I am a big believer in using your advantage to care for others. May God help us to do just that. We have only one earth, no matter what we try to grow on Mars, we're still here till God says otherwise. I admire you Mrs Judd, keep up the good work. 

Ps: Picture credits belong to Natalie Kapinga, thanks Nat!

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