2014 VSA Recipient Rebecca Gailey: “While in Tanzania, I often meet children who inspire me. Children who — despite the stabs of hunger in their stomachs, despite the bitter cold of the wind on their bare backs, despite the rough feel of sandpaper as they drag their swollen tongues over their sun-chapped lips – are always dreaming. They dream of being doctors, lawyers, pilots, presidents. They want to travel the world, discover the cure for AIDS, and help develop their hometowns. They want to do anything and everything, and all of it is possible.
But then they grow up, and they begin to notice they have less than everyone else. They begin to feel ashamed that they constantly have dirt under their nails from helping their mothers coax the Earth in to yielding some of her precious nutrients. They notice that the president’s suit is worth more than their family makes a year and that they can barely afford the fare to the next town over, nonetheless the next country. This is when dreams start to die. This is when the lives of children become broken-winged birds and poverty truly sets in.
Dreams are the most powerful agents of change, and I will contribute to the creation of a world where all people can be happy by working to educate children and encourage them to pursue their dreams for a better life. Happiness is not having everything you covet. Happiness is being free and able to pursue the life you want for you and your community.”