The Power of One – Why A Single Drop Matters #ONEMoms

by Alice Currah on October 15, 2012

After flying for 24 hours from Ethiopia via Washington DC, I’m back home to my typical Monday morning routine.  My kids are eating breakfast and their lunch bags packed.  It’s as if I’ve been here all along.  My husband and kids picked me up from the airport yesterday and when we pulled up into our garage around 4 pm, I didn’t even take my luggage out of the car.  Instead I announced to everyone I was going to take a little nap, but that I would join them for dinner.  Instead, I woke up at this morning at 6 am hopeful that the long flight and needed extended sleep means I’ve adjusted to the time zone changes. 


I’m still processing everything I experienced in Ethiopia.  I will be sharing more in the near future but for now I want to take some time to share with you a powerful reoccurring theme I witnessed over and over again throughout this life changing trip. 


When people think of Ethiopia, it is not surprising that thoughts of extreme poverty, malnutrition, and HIV/AIDS might come to mind.  To be honest, these are the images I imagined I would see over and over again before visiting the country.  And although much of the country does suffer from these things, I also experienced and witnessed hope, opportunity, and development that I wasn’t expecting.


As one local director of Mary Joy (community outreach center) said, “What we need is opportunity.  With opportunity there is potential and possibility.”  This begs the question: what can we do to provide opportunity to a nation with a population of 85 million? Some might argue that it’s easier to ignore the issues which plague 3rd world countries because it’s a drop in a huge bucket of overwhelming proportions.  However, I would like to offer different perspectives:  From Drs. Reg and Catherine Hamlin who founded the world’s only medical centers (Hamlin Fistula Hospital) dedicated exclusively to providing free obstetric fistula repair surgery, counseling, and hope to extremely poor women suffering from child-birth injuries.  Their “drop in the bucket” has impacted thousands of women who would normally be shamed and outcast from their families and society.  From Ian and Britney Bentley, who left their Santa Barbara home and moved their family to Addis Ababa to partner with the non-profit scarf company FashionableAble.  Their “drop in the bucket” has helped women out of prostitution and has given them new occupations as a weaver while providing education, health services, and counseling for themselves and their children.  For the textile company Muya, the first fair-trade textile company (and manufacturer of LemLem scarves), that employs hundreds of men and women.  Their “drop in the bucket” has helped women succeed in a male denominated industry and provide sustainable living wages to their employees while promoting gender equality.  From the many parents I met on the plane ride home with their new adopted Ethiopian babies, their “drop in the bucket” means rescuing a child from growing up in destitute slums likely to be subjected to modern-day slavery, homelessness, prostitution, extreme poverty, and other tragic lives.  From the many foreign assistance programs such as USAID and PEPFAR who are changing thousands of lives because of programs to help the poorest of the poor.  Their “drop in the bucket” provides needed programs in the agriculture, education and healthcare sectors, such as HIV/AIDS prevention, to assist in life changing opportunities which would not happen otherwise.  All of these “drops in the bucket” matter to the lives these people and programs impact. 


Without the single drops, there can be no collective drops.  Change can only effectively happen when enough people extend a hand of hope and for the sake of compassion and the universal language of love. 


If I have learned anything this last week it is this.  It only takes the power of one.  One person has the power within them to change the lives of so many people.  It only takes the willingness of others, like you and me, to take action.  A desire to change lives may feel good, but feelings don’t change lives.  Action changes lives.  We should not allow feelings of guilt to move us to action, but instead we should engage in humanitarian activism for the sake of changing the world for the better one drop, one person, at a time.


I will be writing more about my time as a #ONEMom in Ethiopia but for now I invite you to be a drop in the bucket by lending your voice by signing up with the ONE Campaign.  Co-founded by Bono of the music band U2, ONE is a non-partisan, non-profit organization with the goal of encouraging national leaders to support international development and relief programs through advocacy.  The ONE Campaign’s primary objective is to help fight extreme global poverty and preventable diseases through advocacy outreach movements, encouraging people like you and me to take action – not with your pocketbook but with your voice. By signing up, you are advocating on behalf of the poorest of the poor to keep our national leaders accountable to continue foreign aid assistance to countries like Ethiopia.  By engaging your voice with ONE, your voice is joined with hundreds of thousands of others around the world to improve the lives of millions of people in Africa.  Let us all be drips in the bucket with the collective hope our bucket will be full and overflowing some day.  Please sign up to be a ONEMom (PS: You don’t need to be a mom to sign up, just a desire to lend your voice) and share the message of ONE today.

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Mocha October 15, 2012 at 3:47 pm

Being a part of the collective drop. That’s totally it, lady. Your face is much missed by mine. I know my life is changed for knowing you. xoxo


Rana DiOrio October 15, 2012 at 4:21 pm

You nailed the take-away message of our trip with this piece, Alice. Thank you for being you and for sharing your extraordinary talents with all of us. I am so grateful to count you among my friends. Miss you, Rana


Michelle Twin Mum October 15, 2012 at 4:50 pm

Beautiful Alice, I can feel how moved you are, we all are! Mich x


Heidi October 15, 2012 at 8:11 pm

With your permission, I would like to read this out loud to my “Dinning for Women”( group at this months meeting. Our topic for this month is :
I think our group would love hearing what you had to say, as it is inspiring requardless of the topic


Mikaela Cowles October 15, 2012 at 9:55 pm

When I read the title of your post, The Power of One, I thought immediately of Bryce Courtenay’s novel. What an incredible strength it is to embrace your role, to take ownership for your actions, and to decide you are going to make a difference.

I look forward to learning more about your time over there, but for now, thank you. Thank you for being a drop in the bucket. I hope the time change adjustment is going smoothly.


alice October 15, 2012 at 10:26 pm

Hi Heidi,
Yes, feel free to share this post.


Boston Mamas October 16, 2012 at 9:22 am

So, so wonderful Alice. xo


Rachel October 16, 2012 at 9:57 am

I love this post! It’s so easy to think that the problems are too big and our small efforts make such little difference. What a lie! I love how you put it: every drop in the bucket matters!


Michael Smith October 16, 2012 at 12:27 pm

What a great piece! My sister has been much work in Ethiopia the past few years and has even launched a child sponsor program, complete with onsite “case worker” and more! Well written about the role we can play, small or large, in the developing world. Thank you for sharing.


Jeannine October 17, 2012 at 10:06 am

So, so beautiful. You and the others we traveled with are now an indelible part of me, of my heart and soul. xo


MJ October 19, 2012 at 2:37 am

Welcome back – looking forward to hearing more about everything you saw and experienced. Thanks for sharing it with us!


sharadawn October 21, 2012 at 5:04 pm

I think this’ an amazing story to share! I am in nursing school, in my OB quarter, & just last week watched a PBS video A Walk to Beautiful, which gives insight to the journey of those with fistulas, and the wonderful work the Hamlin Fistula Hospital does. I encourage those interested to watch the video, with tissue handy. … these women are strong, and truly opportunity is a huge part of the solution. Thank you again for sharing!


San Diego Foodie October 23, 2012 at 7:04 am

Hi Alice,

Thank you for this post. It seems like a great experience. I want to try it too. Where do you plan to visit next?


Kacie October 23, 2012 at 1:49 pm

I really appreciated reading this post. I’m a new reader to your blog and am head over heels.



Natalie @ Free Range Human October 23, 2012 at 2:59 pm

What an amazing trip and wonderful act of service! It’s so great to see people reaching across barriers and lending a caring hand. Thank you for that!


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