Young Adult Shares His Time and Talent With Less Fortunate
By Daniel Gehrig, St Joseph Church, Shreveport
"I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. He will put some things behind, will pass an invisible boundary; new, universal, and more liberal laws will begin to establish themselves around and within him; or the old laws be expanded, and interpreted in his favor in a more liberal sense, and he will live with the license of a higher order of beings. In proportion as he simplifies his life, the laws of the universe will appear less complex, and solitude will not be solitude, nor poverty, poverty, nor weakness, weakness. If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put foundations under them".
-Henry David Thoreau
I am putting foundations under my castles while advancing my dreams by living in Managua, Nicaragua, for one year (July 2009-August 2010) teaching English, Spanish literacy, Math and coaching soccer. Here poverty is poverty, solitude is solitude and weakness is weakness; but I felt a need to take time off from continuing my formal education and medical training to help the poor by sharing the blessings God has bestowed upon me.
This year away from the country I love is a challenge. The United States of America is the greatest country in the world because of the freedom we have and the God given inalienable rights that each of us possess. Even though we are the greatest country in the world, one of the reasons I chose to experience a year away was to take a break from the culture that has developed in our country. The paradox of free will is something that I think about regularly. We are obviously blessed with Providence, which I think of as volitional consciousness. How some people can make millions of dollars and not be compelled to give more to the poor is incomprehensible to me. Since I don't have money I chose to give my time and share my talents.
The people in Managua don't have much monetarily speaking, but some do have a sense of stability through their close community ties. Although having stability, the only way to maximize the productivity of their lives is through rigorous education and correct upbringing, something that isn't offered to everyone. With education and upbringing some of these great kids could grow up to be great leaders.
I hope that after my year is up I can look back and feel that I've made lifelong friends, passed on some of my knowledge, and left a positive lasting impact on some of the kids' lives. I'm thankful to my friends and family for the financial help to make my dream happen. I'm especially thankful to the Knights of Columbus who are helping me also while here through regular contact and donations. Role models are lacking down here, especially male ones, and groups like the Knights are something young men in the States shouldn't take for granted but become involved with the organization. If anyone wishes to make a contribution or get more information you can visit www.mannaproject.org. My email address is: email.
Daniel Gehrig is 23 years old and graduated from Centenary College in 2009 with a degree in Biochemistry. While in college he was very active on campus, president of his fraternity, and on the college summer and fall orientation staff. He enjoys playing soccer, reading, and keeping up with politics. Daniel is one of the younger members and a very conscientious member of the Broadmoor Council Knights of Columbus; when able giving his time and talent to help further the ideals of the Knights.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: This article first appeared in the April 2010 edition of the Catholic Connection magazine and is reprinted courtesy of the Catholic Diocese of Shreveport.)