Good Intentions

Anne Mahaffey
Jan 6, 2015 · 4 min read

New Years Day was full of gratitude and reflection. I ended the day with several intentions (I’m avoiding resolutions this year), and one promise. The promise I made (because I knew I could follow through with it before I had time to come up with excuses for why I couldn’t) was to write a blog post every day for ten days. This is Day One.

I rarely have a reason to write anymore. I’m an engineer, so even when I write for work, I’m not really “writing.” I’d call it “communicating technical details.” So what if I don’t write anymore? It’s not like anyone cares…

Except that’s not true. There actually is someone, who I’ve never met, who would probably like it very much if I wrote. To her.


Who?

For almost ten years now, I’ve been providing financial support to women through an organization called Women for Women International. Women go through a year-long program that provides a support structure, as well as skills training. (more details here). These women are usually in war-torn areas of the world, and often have children to support.

I am paired with a sister while she is going through the program, and I am encouraged to write to her. When my sister has completed her program, I am paired up with a new sister.

Over the past ten years, I have sponsored twelve sisters — in locations including Kosovo, Bosnia/Herzegovina, Afghanistan, and Rwanda.

I am currently sponsoring a sister in Rwanda. Her name is Lenatha, and she has four children. That’s pretty much all I know about her. But she doesn’t know anything about me, since I’ve never written.


I think I might have written my first sister, Merushe, once. And that’s it… no other sisters have gotten a letter from me.


Why not?

Well, first of all, I am a proficient procrastinator. I call it procrastination, but who am I kidding? I only really procrastinate on stuff I really don’t want to do, and am hoping I can just quietly get away with not doing it at all.

But, there’s more to this than “I don’t want to do it.” I actually do want to write my sister(s). I think about it at least once a week. And have done so for the past ten years.

I think it really boils down to an overwhelming sense of guilt. Which is really weird, because I’m not the kind to get weighed down by guilt, usually. That’s right, you can ask my mother — any guilt trips directed towards me are typically futile.

But this is different. I have a paralyzing something (fear?) that there is nothing (helpful) I can say to a woman in the situation that my sponsored sisters are in. That anything I say will seem hollow, shallow, ignorant. So, I don’t say anything.

So maybe there’s a New Years resolution that I really do need to make — even though I’m not doing them this year. I’ve spent enough time tonight writing this self-indulgent blog post… maybe I should take a few more minutes, suck it up, and write a letter to my sister.


Here Goes!

Dear Lenatha,

I hope this letter reaches you, and that you are doing well. You have probably graduated from your program by now, and I am very sorry I have not written to you sooner.

I have been told you have four children — they must keep you very busy! I have two children, both girls. They keep me very busy when I am with them, and always worry about them when I am not with them. They are always playing, singing, and drawing. I wish I had their energy.

What kinds of things have you learned in your program? It must be exciting (and exhausting) to learn so many new things, and meet so many new people. I hope very much that you have learned many things that will help you in your life, and have made friendships that will provide you support.

I wish I had written to you sooner, but know that I’ve been praying for you since you started your program, and will continue to do so.

your sister,

Anne


Sent!

    Anne Mahaffey

    Written by

    Compulsive tinkerer — Perpetual learner