Hello! My name is Antonia Buban. I’m a Texas native living in Los Angeles, and I see life as a collection of different places, people, and experiences. When I visit somewhere new, the moments I remember most are the people: the man who sold his paintings on the streets of Athens, or the sweet laugh of a young girl who took me by the hand on the streets of Delhi. These are the sacred moments that make up the memories of my life, and I’m excited to share some more of these moments with you here.
I first heard about the work of Generosity.org while in college in 2013. Post-graduation, the opportunity presented itself to join the Generosity.org team as Operations Manager, and I was ecstatic, as I loved their mission and wanted purposeful work with a global focus. I spent several years with Generosity.org up until this past year, a time that I will always look back on with gratitude. Since I first understood the impact of Generosity.org, I have been a supporter. What started with a birthday fundraiser turned into monthly donations, and I never stopped! I now give $30 every month: it’s not sizable; in fact, it’s quite small, but it’s consistent. Yet during my time both working for and traveling with this unique organization, I have learned that generosity is not limited to the size or dollar sign of a contribution. While those kinds of gifts are powerful, generosity is something we are all able to give to the world around us, no matter our resources or location.
From Guatemala to Uganda to India, I had the privilege of visiting communities that taught me this. Throughout these different countries, one thing that remained consistent in my encounters was the sacrificial generosity of local community members. Whether meeting elders of the town who persist in hope for the future of their families or getting soaked by children playing in uncontaminated water for the first time, the faces and stories behind the work of Generosity.org are imprinted in my memories.
One of these encounters was with a man named David*. David works for one of Generosity.org’s local partners in Uganda. He was born in the middle of war-torn times, as the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) terrorized communities throughout the nation. He, along with his brother, was abducted by this army that was notorious for kidnapping children and creating a force of “child soldiers.” His uncle was killed at their hands, and his brother is still missing to this day. But when I heard David talk about these experiences, he had no anger in his voice towards these men that had wreaked havoc on his community and his family. In fact, he said, “I have forgiven everyone who has ever hurt me.” Words I will never forget. These are the kinds of people that are impacting their communities, and that Generosity.org has the opportunity to partner with. Those who have overcome adversity, healed from deep wounds, and most miraculously, have found it within themselves to forgive.
Lucia* is another one of these individuals, who I met during my visit to a small town in Guatemala. A clean water project was being built at her community’s school by one of our local partners, and it was because of her. This woman saw the children in her beloved neighborhood were getting sick because of the contaminated water at this school. Kids would have to leave school to find drinkable water, often causing them to miss class. Lucia rallied the families of her community to have a clean water project built right inside the school’s gates, a gift that will impact not only the lives of her grandchildren but their families for generations to come. While we were visiting the neighborhoods here, many community members invited us into their homes and welcomed us. Several even spent their own time and resources making us meals and having us over to eat, an act of generosity that no doubt required great sacrifice.
These experiences have widened my definition of giving, so that now, the idea that generosity is found within our own pockets is too limited for me to accept. Rather, the depth, strength, and life of generosity is found in faces and around tables like these. The generosity of the human spirit is seeing every person not as an “other,” but as a brother or sister; it is finding within ourselves the strength to forgive, even in the face of great pain and loss. It is in men and women like David and Lucia.
During my time working for Generosity.org, what I appreciated most about their mission was this same belief that every person has something valuable to give and something meaningful to contribute. Generosity.org works with local organizations who do not wish to come in and take over, but partner side-by-side with communities and families who are fighting for their own destinies. When I think about true generosity, I see David, who taught me how to forgive even the deepest offense, and I remember those who shared their meals with me, continually reminding me that inviting in an outsider is one of the greatest expressions of love. This is the heart of Generosity.org, and why I remain a supporter to this day.
*Names have been changed for anonymity.
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