If you don't know who Katie Meyler is yet, it's worth the time to find out. She is an enterprising young woman who opened the More than Me Academy to get girls off the street and into schools in West Point, Liberia.
When the Ebola epidemic struck West Africa in the fall of 2014, the school was forced to shut down. Instead of waiting for the threat to pass, Katie flew into the heart of the epidemic and turned her school into an aid center to help victims and newly orphaned children of Ebola. You can follow Katie on Instagram where she posts gripping photos of both the despair and hope found within Liberia. For her efforts, she was named Time Magazine's "Person of the Year" in 2014, and has earned Instagram's "person to follow," designation as her posts resonate with all cross-sections of humanity.
Why are people so drawn to Katie's story and her work? Because there is a little bit of Katie Meyler in each of us. She doesn't come from a wealthy family and has had no advantages to make her journey easy -- she just knew what she needed to do and acted on it.
Perhaps Katie's will to help is best described by Dr. Bhavna Shyamalan, co-founder of the M. Night Shyamalan Foundation, an organization that funds the More than Me Academy. "Walking by a man lying in the street is not neutral, it is a negative," Shyamalan says. "You are making a choice to do nothing." She adds that the only way forward is to pull people up, one by one.
Although we may not have the means or desire to fly to Liberia, seeing Katie's pictures reminds us that we can each choose actions to improve the world around us. Katie, and others like her, prove that one person's efforts are not inconsequential -- what we do makes a difference.
Inside we all know there is something we can do for the greater good. We need to listen to the voice reminding us that we are fortunate and often take basic essentials for granted -- yet others are not as lucky.
As a single mother, I made the decision to travel to Rwanda to live and work for two weeks in the Nibakure Children's Village -- an orphanage designed to provide a sustainable home for 20 children who were not born into the loving and stable environments so many of us are afforded.
When I learned of the Nibakure Village, I instantly recognized how lucky my daughter and I are to have landed where we are in life. I wondered if I didn't go and spend time with these children -- who would? These kids didn't choose to be in a difficult situation, living in one of the world's poorest countries, but I can choose to make their world a little bit better by volunteering my time and energy.
So I've committed to getting more than five inoculations to protect against deadly diseases, such as yellow fever and typhoid, taking meds that cause stomachaches, and flying across the globe for 24 hours to have an experience that will both enrich my character and provide an example for my daughter, so that she doesn't take our life for granted and choosing to help others will become part of the fabric of who she is as she grows up.
Don't be neutral -- choose to help pull someone up today.