So I’ve already told you all about my project that I am working on but I have neglected to tell you about myself. So here goes - My name is Ashley Rock and I am just short of 24 years old. I was born and raised in Ohio (Go Bucks!) and my favorite color is Whirlpool, which to a scrapbooker means light blue!
You might wonder what drives me to do this project. The answer comes from a large combination of events in my life but to keep it simple I will share a few of the main reasons. In the movie, Pay It Forward, a kid gives help to people in need and in return asks only that they help three other people. If you haven’t seen this movie, I really recommend watching it because not only is a great story line but it is truly inspiring! My concept is similar to the movie in a way because I feel as if my life has been blessed with so many people who have been there to help me when I have really needed it. For example, when I bought my house two years ago I was only twenty-one and used every last penny purchasing the house. While I celebrated my achievement, I had nothing left to spend for anything to put in the house I had just purchased… and by nothing, I mean that sincerely. If it weren’t for my wonderful family members, friends and co-workers pulling together to help me then I don’t know how I would have been able to pull everything together. I was given couches, end tables, a tv,a kitchen table set, a bed, dishes, lamps, etc. I'm talking the whole nine yards! I didn’t expect anybody to lend a hand to help me but they did and not only will I NEVER forget but I will be forever grateful. It showed me there are so many good people who touch our everyday lives and never ask for anything in return.
When I went to The Gambia in March of 2009, I knew that was where I wanted to “pay it forward.” The people there were so happy despite the poverty that they live with everyday. From our perspective, it would be considered poverty for many Gambians it is just life. Their situation is all that they have ever known so they have just learned to live happily within their means. One of the most striking things is that there are very few options for them in terms of jobs. Most everyone is a farmer/entrepreneur and barely makes any kind of profit for all of their hard work. Despite the hardship that could produce bitterness in just about anyone, these were the kindest people I have known. The thing about Gambians is that they have a strong desire to learn and to know what is out there to know but most do not have the resources or finances to enable them these opportunities. That is what many people involved with the Peace Corp there in The Gambia are trying to do for them. They are teaching the youth how to use the land to cultivate more profitable crops, how to make honey by keeping beehives and most importantly, educating everyone on the importance of prenatal care and the care of newborns. These are just a few of the strides that the Peace Corps are making towards a better tomorrow for Gambians.
Where do I come in? Myself, I have many talents but teaching is not one of them. I may not be able to teach and do everything that people in the Peace Corps are doing for the country but I can put my own talents to use for a good cause. If I am able to collect enough school supplies to be shipped there and distributed to the children with the most need then I will have put my talents to good use. I know the value of quality education and I want these children to have the opportunity to know its value as well. With knowledge there is opportunity and with opportunity all things are possible. As Americans, we take so much for granted without ever realizing it. One very common question to ask our children is “what do you want to be when you grow up?” to which you will have a list of replies so long and so varied that it could make you head spin. In Gambia, the options are so limited and without education the list of opportunities will never get longer. Naturally, I don’t expect everyone to jump on my band wagon and want to donate or support the cause but if you can find it in your heart to give then every penny or every item will make a difference in the life of a child. The famous W.B. Yeats once said that “education is not the filling of a bucket, but the lighting of a fire.” Every single person who steps up to help the members of the youngest generation pursue education is lighting a fire for a flame that will burn further into the future than many of these children could ever have hoped. You have been lucky enough to feel the warmth of a fire lit for you and now I ask – Will you help light the way for the next generation?