Disaster Relief Alters Perspective
For Becky Stevens, being a good neighbor doesn’t necessarily mean doing good just for her physical neighbors or local community. Becky, through her church, has traveled to Nepal twice and Africa once to do relief work – appropriately calling it the Nations of Good.
“It’s so important to give back,” Becky says. “When you go to these villages, you see how blessed you really are. The Neighborhood of Good® is so important, but that neighborhood could be mine, or it could be in another country.”
She says volunteering in third-world countries, and especially countries devastated by a natural disaster, puts day-to-day worries into perspective.
“Living in a tent and not having running water is not comfortable. The unknown is scary for anyone. Once you do that and see these things – compared to these people’s lives, nothing is hard,” Becky says.
In third-world countries, the citizens have a much harder life. Every culture is different, and Becky made note of this in Nepal. She saw women working the fields on the side of mountains while the men watched. In Africa, she worked in the area where there is the highest AIDs cases per capita in the world.
“When you see these people who work so hard, and you can actually see that women have less rights and how undervalued they are, it breaks your heart,” Becky says. “In Africa, the kids are their parents because both parents have passed away from AIDs. But they’re the happiest kids you’ve ever seen. It’s interesting to see the dynamics compared to the U.S.”
Becky, a State Farm® agent from Yukon, Okla., visited Nepal the first time in April 2016 after a 7.8-magnitude earthquake devastated the country a year before. Nearly 9,000 people were killed, almost 22,000 injured and hundreds of thousands were displaced and homeless following the catastrophe.
Becky’s volunteer group helped rebuild a church in a village that had not received any relief work since the earthquake. They also cleared rubble and debris of a home owned by an elderly family. Her church group, which included two State Farm customers, revisited the same village a year later to complete the rebuilding of the church.
“It really shows you a lot about yourself,” Becky says. “When you see how happy people are when they have nothing, it shows what is a true need and a true want.”
Becky says the hardships she has seen in other countries have changed how she views her home life.
“I try to not buy as much and try to share the need with other people. I try to get people involved in the local community through food donations or clothing drives. Anyone can go on a trip; there’s always a group of people going somewhere to help someone,” she says. “Wherever you live, you can find some way to reach out to people.”
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