In Which Andrew Writes Honestly About Support Raising

This week I head to Virginia for a fund raising trip. As usual, this is both exciting and daunting. I get incredibly excited and love having the chance to talk to people about India and Kolkata, about human trafficking and the efforts to counter it, about what God says about justice and love put into action, about the church and the individual Christian’s place in facing the evil in the world with a hope rooted in joy, and sharing the freedom and joy and hope with those who are in both physical and spiritual chains. When I talk to people who engage in the story, who are genuinely interested (whether or not they end up as supporters), and who ask questions, give opinions, and tell their own stories – it becomes fun and meaningful.

But, on these support trips, there are always some awkward, discouraging conversations that happen too – well meaning individuals who ask about India, listen politely, but through the entire conversation wear a plastered-on expression that says: “Please don’t ask me for my money.” It’s disheartening to actively watch someone lose interest in a cause that I’m so passionate about – missing the point because they’re hearing a sales pitch rather than a story.

Can something that’s so real to me really just blend into the noise for others? I’ve walked the streets and felt the darkness, heard the stories of prostitutes and freedom fighters and developed a passion for telling those stories to the world – and I want people to hear and engage and care. But I wonder whether this blurs into the bombard of other appeals. When I describe the crumbling beauty of Kolkata and the realities of a life lost to the alleyway pimps and the cutthroat traffickers, how often are those histories and those lives filed away in the same category as canned soup drives and Girl Scout cookie sales and NPR pledge week?

Of course, the reality is, I do need to talk about money. Without financial support, I can’t get to Kolkata in the first place. But I wonder whether, stripped of the request-for-support aspect of these conversations, they would more often become actual conversations and stories to be heard and discussed, if the tears and the rage and the questions would come more readily.

This week, one supporter invited me over to a home brew session. I love that. Just hanging out, making beer, and talking about the world and its beauties and evils and joys. Doing life.

The intersection of real stories with real life is where genuine engagement with the world’s need happens.

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3 thoughts on “In Which Andrew Writes Honestly About Support Raising

  1. I’m so curious about your story. What did you do when you were in Kolkata? When you get the money, when do you plan on going back and what do you want to do there? I went there last summer and hope to go back and live there permanently in a few years and work with a Christian ministry there.

    1. Long story short, mid-way through a year of working and writing in East Africa, I visited Kolkata for a little over a week, checking out an organization starting up to fight human trafficking. I spent the week exploring Kolkata, Garish Park, and wandering Sonagacchi, and did a lot of meeting with various justice organizations that are fighting the sex trade through creating businesses in the districts and offering alternative employment opportunities (+ empowerment, dignity, community, etc…) to women trapped in the trade, and their children. Some of those were working really well (Free Set, Sari Bari…). So, I’m now raising funds to allow me to go back to Kolkata for a couple years, working with a justice organization that is looking to start a bakery to employ women out of the trade (justice entrepreneurship, essentially). I’ll be there as the communications leader – so it’s my job to gather and tell the stories of injustice in Kolkata, the women in the trade and who have gotten out, tell the stories of those fighting the trade, and hash out the complexities for as wide an audience as I can for advocacy and awareness.

      Hope that helps!

  2. mmmmm that’s so interesting! I hope to keep updated through your writing and as you learn. I am really interested in seeing how the bakery starts and continues! I am really passionate about that city and about bringing justice to the people there, especially the women and children. I’m so excited for you! I will be praying for your support funds to come in and for the work that is being done there.

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