MylifE 2011

Blythe Collier

I was surprised that shopping at the mall in Cape Town brought on so many emotions. Stepping into the large building and walking past the many expensive stores reminded me of the United States. Except that I wasn’t at home, I was in Cape Town. I was standing not far from a sea of slums in which a countless number of orphans roamed the streets and families of sixteen struggled to survive in one-room homes the size of an average American bedroom. These were the images in my head as I stood at an iPad booth in the mall and watched a saleswoman in expensive clothes explain the benefits of the product to a customer. The customer stood weighing her options, considering the item and asking questions pertaining to what seemed to me to be a superficial device. I simply stared, watching the interaction.

Visiting MylifE Organization

After shopping we headed over to MylifE. I stayed silent throughout the bus ride, whilst trying to make sense of the two contradicting images that were simultaneously at the front of my mind. I began to think about the world on a grander scale. I attempted to sort out the issues floating around in my mind and what could be done to stop them. Suddenly, I felt small and helpless. This feeling stayed with me as we entered the doors of MylifE and began our conversation with Linzi Thomas.

At first she explained the purpose of MylifE and she and the others in the room told us their stories. The feeling I’d had before began to grow within me. Then the conversation developed into a discussion about helplessness. In this context, Linzi said something I’ll never forget. She said that one must not push away that feeling but rather use it. She described how when she feels helpless she asks youth who were formerly on the streets what they would do to help. She said that in those moments she gets the most useful responses. She pointed out that people tend to not ask questions to those involved, but they should.

Despite this I still felt overwhelmed. I felt the call to participate in making a difference but did not think I would know where to start. I voiced these feelings and Linzi gave one more piece of advice that struck me. She said that instead of being overwhelmed about how to change the world around me, I only had to look within and work on myself. That would be my project, my focus. The rest would come naturally.

The overwhelmed feeling still exists. I will always be trying to sort out the contradiction between seeing the woman buying the iPad and seeing the slums of Cape Town but I’ll never let those emotions get in the way of actually making a difference. Instead I’ll let them guide me in the right direction.


Kellyn Cardinal

Staring at blank sheets of paper was the same feeling he explained he felt while living on the streets.
Empty.
Blank.
Lost.
That feeling soon became his norm and everyday reality.
It became an awfully familiar safety blanket.
Children not yet reached double digits were abandoned and strays.
Left living in the townships, exposed.
Exposed to gangs, exposed to drugs, exposed to violence, exposed to rape. Too young be on his own, he had to accept defeat.
His future lead to crack.
His future lead to prison and his future lead to “active robbery.”
This is an easy possibility for 7,000,000 homeless living in South Africa.
He could say the MylifE organization saved his life.
A beacon of hope and the courage to change was all he wanted.
One woman gave him that. She opened her heart and he opened the door to her home and saw a room full of possibilities.
Forgiveness.
Strength.
Confidence.
He folded his hands to his road of struggle and took on an even harder task.
……..the path to recovery.

  • Tamara

    Beautifully written Kellyn. Take it all in deeply so it never leaves you. Happy Birthday my special Goddaughter. I love you.
    Tamara G

  • Joanne

    Hello Dear Kellyn ~ Just wanted you to know I am thinking of you on your birthday. I hope it is a very happy one! I spent some time with your mom and Shari yesterday and that is always such a special time. June 25th was my hubby’s birthday, too. You are in good company! Blessings on you, special one.
    ~Joanne

  • Kranti Mailliard

    Kellyn, your writing is so powerful. It touched me deeply, like a poem. Thank you.
    & Happy Birthday, one you’ll never forget.

  • Maureen

    You sound like you are learning so much; coming across a new world of experiences that help you reflect and see life through others eyes. A different perspective allows for new understandings that show so much growth in you… I am so happy for you, we miss you… HAPPY BIRTHDAY MISS KELLYN!!!! *<I:-)

  • Heidi

    Happy birthday Kellyn! Keep writing the poetry.

  • Heidi

    Blythe I am so moved by your observations, your crisp juxtaposition of the slums and the shopping mall is poignant. These disparities in poverty and wealth, the quality of life, exist everywhere in the world, even at home. You have recieved a great gift of insight that will guide you on your path. How fortunate to meet such a woman of wisdom as Linzi Thomas at MylifE. Her words are true.

    “There but for fortune go you and I”

    Love, Heidi

  • Thank you for visiting us – we always look forward to Ward and his wonderful students visits and you always allow us to know we are loved. Please keep in touch – Linzi

  • Sally Gorrell

    Dear Blythe,
    Thank you for sharing your trip with me.
    It feels as if your new insights and feelings
    are enlightening the conversation between
    us all. It is always the feeling that makes
    the difference.
    Give my love and appreciation to your
    traveling companions. I’m so proud of
    you all and so happy to keep in touch.
    If you have time to call Randall and Amy, please do.
    love, Sally

  • Jivanti

    Thank you all for your poignant remarks! May you continue to open yourselves to compassion, connection and service.

    Much love,
    Jivanti

  • Sri Gyan McCaughan

    Blythe, you certainly feel the poles and so clearly articulate them. Bravo! What concerns me is your feelings of being overwhelmed with these poles. There is a Latin phrase, “coincidentia oppositorum” that translates to “union of opposites.” it is employed when one finds oneself in just such a quandary as you describe above. May I suggest that you look for the way to employ the latter to help the former. A quick example might be to use an iPad to video a story in the slums. Then edit the movie, write and record a voice over (you have excellent writing skills) and post it. Just a thought.