What $60 Can Do

I want you to give me $60.

Some of you are thinking, “Well, that’s impossible!” You barely have enough in your bank account to pay for gas the rest of this week. You’ve been eating a lot of ramen noodles and peanut butter and you can’t remember the last time you stepped foot inside a restaurant or movie theater. You wish someone would give you $60. Then maybe you could catch up on the electric bill.

Other people reading this spent double that amount taking the family out to eat last night. You’ll spend another $60 this weekend getting mani/pedis with your daughter, another $60 taking her and her friends to the movies, another $60 on snacks during and after the show. And you won’t think twice about it because this is your lifestyle. This is what you’re used to. Life’s too short to not indulge in things you like. Right?

Even if you’re in the first case scenario, sixty dollars isn’t exactly life-changing money. It could bridge the gap to payday, but you couldn’t do anything particularly meaningful with just sixty bucks.

But if you give me that $60, I can do something hugely significant with it.

If you haven’t heard the story of Chris Ategeka, you’ve got to take a few minutes and read this now. It’s the amazing story of how he went from homeless Ugandan orphan to holding a spot on Forbes’ prestigious “30 Under 30” list.

You know how he got there? Because a totally ordinary somebody like you and me thought it was worth the sacrifice to invest in his education. It really is a fantastic story of how huge things can come from small offerings.

I know 27 Chris Ategekas.


They all tried starting school on February 2nd, the first day of the new school year. But after a week, the administration expelled them for not having paid their fees. They’re orphans — how can they pay? There’s no free public education in Uganda. No welfare system or food stamps. No safety nets to catch these kids. The schools can’t afford to let them come for free. If someone doesn’t help them, they don’t get educated. Plain and simple.

Our family sponsors as many as we can throughout the year. It’s not many, because we have six people living on one middle-class income. But we’ve spent time with these children and so many of them are truly like family to our adopted Ugandan daughter. We have to help them. We can’t not help, even if it’s always so much less than what we wish we could give.

Because we believe what Chris so eloquently said in the article. “Talent is universal, but opportunities are not….A seventeen-year-old computer genius in San Francisco is not any smarter than a seventeen-year-old kid in the jungles of Africa. They were just born on an uneven playing field.”

These 20+ Ugandan kids I know bubble over with untapped talents and gifts. It’s so sad to me that most of these inner treasures will remain buried.

You know what I found out about our daughter, once she settled in here last summer? She’s a really good little artist. She loves to draw and paint. If you give her paper and some paints or colored pencils, she will sit for hours, joyously creating. She has some real God-given talent inside her and it’s precious to watch it blossom.

A year ago, she didn’t have the luxury of time to create. I don’t know if even she realized she was artistic, as her days were spent waking before dawn to clean and do homework, staying at school until sundown, walking back to the pastor’s one-room house where she lived, cooking dinner, cleaning some more and going to bed. Everything in Uganda is hard and the difficulty of living life took up all of her time. On weekends, there were clothes to hand-wash, gardens to help tend, hours spent in church. Though we sponsored her education, clothing, food and medical care, we were also trying to finance her adoption and there wasn’t extra money to send for art supplies — even if I had known to buy them. Which, I didn’t.

The other kids at the orphanage, the 27 friends she left behind, all have hidden talents, too. But without an education, most will never be nurtured into fruition. How many more Chris Ategekas are there, with answers to the problems that plague our world, who will never be given the opportunity to shine?

One term of school for one of Violet’s friends costs just $60. There are three terms in the Ugandan school year. So for just under $200, you can educate a child for an entire year.

Or, you could spend double that over the course of one weekend because hey, life is short and you want to have fun.

I’m not saying we all need to turn Amish and deny ourselves of every thing we find enjoyable. But I absolutely, totally, 100% believe that nearly all of us could and should make sacrifices to help those in true need. To whom much is given, much is required. And even the poor in America are rich compared to so much of the world.

So, yeah. I want you to give me $60.

Then I’ll combine those gifts, wire them to the pastor and these dear children can get back into school where they belong.

And you get the satisfaction of knowing that your small seed will be growing into something pretty darn amazing.

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