brunch, bytavi & choices

some of you might remember a post I wrote awhile back called fighting for little girls…you can read it here.
in it, i shared a bit about how God has been opening my eyes and heart to the realities of oppressive poverty and injustice that many people face everyday. 
yesterday, i had the sweet opportunity to host a brunch with bytavi…what’s bytavi?  there’s a link on the sidebar of my blog or you can click here to learn more…but in short, bytavi is a vocational training program that empowers cambodian women out of the cycle of oppressive generational poverty.  it is also an arm of a larger organization, CGI (center for global impact), which is a faith-based relief and development organization designed to creatively connect financial and human resources with people who desperately need them.  read more about CGI, here.
tavi is a real woman and you can read her amazing story here
what started with tavi and a connection to CGI, turned into bytavi, which is now comprised of 30+ women who are being empowered, are breaking the cycle of poverty within their families,  are growing as women and mothers –physically, skillfully, mentally and spiritually, and are creating beautiful products.
some of these beautiful, handmade products were on a table in my home yesterday morning.  and together with a few friends, fresh fruit, breakfast casseroles, vietnamese iced coffee, and the expertise of whitney (who works for CGI),  i learned even more about very real people who are worth fighting for.
 gretchen and nicole browsing bytavi products








crinkled scarves and little bags..









whitney shared a wealth of information and vision with my friends and i.  she also involved us in an interactive activity of role-playing a poor cambodian family to get a better glimpse of the difficult and gravely horrific choices that they face…we each had different roles.  i played a cambodian father who is trying to provide for his family in extreme poverty while battling HIV.

the activity was eye-opening.  at the start of whitney’s presentation, she asked us what choices we had made that morning.  our answers ranged from things like what to wear, what to feed our children for breakfast, and what shampoo to use…

what choices did you make this morning?

of course, there are hard choices i have to make.  and i don’t want to belittle them.  but i’ve simply never had to make some of the choices that the families i heard about yesterday have to make.  i’ve never felt the weight of choices that come with oppressive poverty (or lack of them, for that matter) on my shoulders when i wake up in the morning.
i don’t say this to inflict guilt on myself or on any of you who are reading this post and can relate to me.  but without hesitation; i will say that it offers those of us who do not live in oppressive poverty another choice in our plethora of daily choices that cannot be ignored.  it is the choice to get involved in fighting for those who aren't given the opportunity or tools to fight themselves.  it's doing what God has asked all of us who follow him and bear his name, to do.
as i learn more and allow my heart to grow into God's heart, these questions continue to arise: will we, as a family,  do what we can to take part in this fight?  will we help in whatever ways we can, whether seemingly small or large, to give to those who have nothing?  will i not only be a good steward of financial resources, but also of my very heart?  will i let my heart break and grow in breaking for what Christ's heart breaks for and not just what i prefer mine to break for? 

if you have asked yourself similar questions and are looking for more ways to learn or to be involved, keep praying with an open heart -- God will, without a doubt, present opportunities for both.  also, check out CGI and byTavi.  it's worth the time.
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