Wow – I just looked back at the last couple years of updates and almost all of them start with “It’s been a long time since we’ve updated you” – so I’m not going to say that again. It remains true, however, that life throws so much at us that it’s difficult sometimes to keep the momentum going. Enter the kick in the pants.
Ruth and I were invited to attend a fundraiser yesterday here in Jackson yesterday. I knew next to nothing about what we were attending except that it had something to do with refugees. Imagine my surprise when I walked in and the first person I saw was Michel Gabaudin. A little over a year ago I mentioned in a post on this website having met Michel at a presentation in Boise. At that time he was the U.S. and Caribbean representative to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and I was thrilled to have had the opportunity to hear him speak and talk with him very briefly. What an honor to actually get to meet him again.
Given the intimate size of the event yesterday I had a chance to speak with him more, explain to him what we’re doing and who Fidel is, and learn about his new role. He is now the President of Refugees International. I could spend some time trying to explain who they are and what they do but it would be easier for you to just go to the website and listen to Michel explain. Suffice it to say they’re trying to address the many challenges confronting refugees around the world from the top down, and they’re doing some impressive things. It was great to hear Michel acknowledge, however, that small efforts like our own, working with one man (albeit an amazing one) and his family could make a huge difference as well, and in someways has advantages.
We talked about how hard it is sometimes for he and RI to deeply reach donors because the scope of the refugee issue is so large and the work they do is largely to affect policy at the country level. A small success to RI could impact the lives of thousands if not millions of refugees – but sometimes it’s hard for donors to make a tangible connection. Contrast that with the work we do with and for Fidel. There’s no issue with tangible connection. Stand Fidel in front of a group of people and let him tell his story, or read his poetry, and there are few people who walk away unchanged. Of course, the other advantage is that if Fidel walks away from an event having raised $1,000.00 it’s huge. RI needs much more money to tackle the scope of what they do.
As Ruth and I were leaving the event we disucssed briefly with Michel how we might work together. Michel acknowledged that it might be helpful for him to have someone like Fidel addressing his donors to create that tangible connection. We know Fidel would be amazing at it, and would have the opportunity to generate more awareness of his specific situation. The world beyond Boise deserves to know Fidel. Maybe this could be a way to make that happen.
Just the kick in the pants I needed.