Can you change the stars?
I am lucky, and I count those lucky stars every day. Why you may wonder? Because I grew up in a big 3 story house with a big yard, with a sandpit and a swing. A playground just across the street and countless friends in my neighbourhood that I could play with. Riding my bike or roller blades in the street. Sleepovers at friends where we would stay up all night watching movies (that we were not allowed to, of course) with lots of ice cream, popcorn and cooldrink. Celebrating my birthday with a big party, celebrating Christmas and Sinterklaas (the Dutch version of Santa Clause), and more presents than space in my room. My biggest worries where what my mamma made me for lunch at school or till what time I was allowed to play outside.
When I got older, I went to high school and university. I was able to study in Italy, come to South Africa, travel and explore the world. My twenties were without a doubt the best time of my life – living on my own in a different city than that I grew up in, study, go out and party, finding my place in the world and exploring what I want in life. The only worries I had now were if I would pass my exam after and what my next holiday destination would be (and when I could drop off my laundry at my parents house). I have a bright future, full of lucky stars. And everyday it seems like I get more stars, and I am creating my own Milky way.
Now I am almost 30 and my worries are not about myself anymore. I worry about 900 kids in Wolwerivier, 50 kids at Sunshine and 5000 people in total. Kids roaming the streets instead of going to school, young people who didn’t finish high school, abuse in many different shapes and forms, parents who cannot make ends meet and who are struggling putting food on the table for their kids, no viable source of income, no ID documents and many more. Their fate is also written in the stars, but it is a different one than mine seems to be.
So that brings me back to my first sentence: it all depends on the place you were born that in a big way determine the chances you get in life, and if there are people in your life who are willing to go the extra mile and sacrifice in order to give you a better future. The first one is something that I cannot change. The latter however, is something I can actually change, I can be the one who makes an effort. And maybe I fail, maybe I succeed. But at least there is someone who tries.
Which brings me back to the future. Right now, we are building Sunshine’s and Wolwerivier’s future, and the first bricks are already put in place. Together with 8 Norwegian students we are talking to the residents of Wolwerivier to hear their story. To hear about their past, so we can create their future. To know what is needed to build a better life, to provide for their kids, and to create their own Milky way. Skills development programs, a food kitchen, evening school, a youth centre and so much more. That is written in the stars and nothing else!
So is it possible to change ones stars? To change the future? I think it is and we need to believe we can, let’s move heaven and earth to prove we can!