xmlns:og>='http://ogp.me/ns#'> Pedals & Pencils: Vigilante Kindness: More than a Mattress

July 20, 2013

Vigilante Kindness: More than a Mattress

This trip hasn't been at all what I've expected, and not in that happy wow amazing way.  Frankly, it's been full of deceit, painful conversations, disappointments and a host of other things that I'm choosing not to go into.

My time with the students has been great, but there are some things on this trip that have both threatened to and successfully robbed me of the joy of being here.  It is the hardest trip I've ever taken and I'm fighting constant homesickness.

With the help of some of some of my friends back home, I've started looking for opportunities for what I'm calling Vigilante Kindness, acts of kindness not born out of an organization or a specific mission, just kindness for the sake of being kind.

I think these Vigilante acts of Kindness are going to be my saving grace and if I'm laying all my cards down, I could use little grace right now and I'm betting you could, too.

I bought a mattress today which might not seem like a big deal, but as is always the case here, there's so much more to the story and a mattress isn't just a mattress.

At the market for a mattress
There are two brothers who attend the school I'm working at.  They were both accepted to the school this year and when a student is accepted into the school, their family must provide them with a mattress.

The father, a peasant farmer, was only able to purchase one mattress and promised to purchase a second when he was able to earn the money.  The two teenage boys have been sharing a bed since they were admitted.  Education is a gift only some here receive, so sharing a bed is a small price to pay.

Two weeks ago their father was involved in a land dispute.  Land equals food.  Land equals income.  Land equals life.  The dispute became quite heated and the father was murdered.

The boys are left without a father.  The family is left without an income earner.

By purchasing a mattress for this boy, his family is now free to use what little money they earn to focus on things like feeding the family.  The boys will be able to sleep better, focus better in classes and hopefully succeed in school so that the tragic loss of their father doesn't spiral into the loss of their future.

A mattress is so much more than a mattress.

When I gave the kid the mattress and mosquito net, he was so overcome with gratitude.  He kept thanking me over and over and I received his hearty thanks on behalf of my friends Becca and Gerald who prior to my departure shoved bills in my hand with simple instructions to find a kid in need and help them out.

I did and tonight he will be sleeping soundly in his own bed.


  1. Grace and kindness are two of my favorite words. They possess that same magical quality as love -- it's in the giving that one receives. I hope the trip gets better for you.

  2. Thanks, Hipster. You're so right. :)

  3. I gasped when I read " The dispute became quite heated and the father was murdered." Oh, how horrible. I WILL PRAY. They will have to focus on so much more than we people here in the US. Thank you for your kindness Alicia. And thank you to the Becca & Gerald who stuffed $$ in your hand to be able to buy the mattress. I pray your trip will get better and will have God's Kindness for the sake of being kind. Thanks sweetie!

  4. Oh, Alicia, I'm sorry this trip is so hard. I'm sending much love and prayers to you. I suppose the saving grace is knowing that you are helping those you love. Every little bit matters, as you well know. I will look forward to some time together when you return. Love.

  5. Ya know what Alicia, the world is a better place because you are in it....know that as you journey.

  6. Me too, Alicia. I clicked on your post with high expectations. Good that there are some good things,

  7. Thanks, Lynn. I'm learning a lot this trip and I'm not sure they're lessons I'd be learning if the trip were easy, so I'm grateful for that. And I'm grateful for time with my sweet, sweet kids. Looking forward to seeing you when I return. Hope you're having an amazing summer!

  8. Yes, we really have it so easy compared to so many. Thanks for all of your prayers. :)

  9. I've been grouchy lately about all sorts of things. Thanks for a much-needed shot of perspective.

    I'll keep a good thought for you and your students, and hope that things look up soon. Stay strong.

  10. Yeah, I'm getting lots of doses of perspective here and am so grateful for my time with the kids.

  11. […] Earlier in the week I spoke to one of the local Rotary clubs about the work I’ve been doing in Uganda.  I talked about how small acts of kindness can make great differences.  I told the story of my friend who dropped by just before I left for Uganda last July and gave me a handful of bills with the simple instructions to, “find a kid in need and help them”.  I told the Rotarians how I’d used that money to buy a kid a mattress.  Of course there’s more to the story than that, but you can read it here. […]


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