Saving Ourselves by Saving Others
What would you do if you encountered an adorable little girl who was about to be sold into sex slavery because her family couldn't afford to keep her in school? This was the situation I faced while doing research in a remote village in Nepal. I had discovered that many girls from the lower caste were disappearing because they were too poor to pay school fees and provide support.
"How much would it cost to keep a girl in school?" I asked the principal.
"Oh, far too much! She would need supplies, books, uniforms, fees, and food."
It turned out that all of this would cost $50 for a year's support. $50! I reached into my pocket and pulled out some bills and shoved them in the principal's hand, telling him I'd return next year to check on her.
A noble gesture, I admit, but also an impulsive one. It took me four days' traveling just to get to this village and now I was committed to returning. And what about the other 12,000 Nepali girls each year who end up in sex slavery?
So began a journey for me that, initially, was not so much intended to save the world as save myself. Perhaps like you I spend an extraordinary amount of time immersed in a world of consumerism, superficial encounters, and work that feels worthwhile yet I know I could easily be replaced by someone else who could do the same thing. This single incident seemed to redefine my whole life and send me in a whole new direction. Ten years and 126 girls later, saving at-risk children has now become my priority. It has also become my life's greatest joy.
So often psychology is focused on self-development. We hear so much about self-esteem and self-satisfaction. Yet it is often by getting outside of ourselves that we attain some of our most enduring peak experiences. This is true whether you are working and traveling abroad or volunteering in your own community, whether you offer someone reassuring words or intervene on behalf of someone who is in great need. It is through such experiences of service to others that our own lives are redeemed. If you keep your eyes, ears, and heart open, you will find opportunities almost every day to make a positive difference in someone's life.
For more information: www.EmpowerNepaliGirls.org