I just returned from the UK where I spent a week with Sarah. We traveled all over the country meeting people at churches, coffee shops and in their homes. And all the people we met got to hear about Partners, Burma, of the people we have met, and of the opportunities we have to work there. We also had plenty of time to drink tea, chat about things that matter to women like us, such as hair styles, clothes and makeup.
The obvious reason I admire Sarah is that she has a lot of skills that I completely lack. One of them is her ability to organize, plan, strategize and administer. She manages something I think must take more discipline than running a marathon and that is to go to bed with an empty Inbox every night. Just imagine!
A phrase I heard her say a few times while we traveled was: If somebody tells me something can’t be done, I will make it my goal to prove them wrong.
This is an attitude she has had much use for the last five years. That is how long she has worked with Partners. She kind of just showed up at our office in Thailand one day and never left. With her can-do-attitude she reformed many of our filing cabinets and our children’s work. Two years after moving to Thailand she moved back to the UK to run an office for Partners UK.
And here is the main reason for my admiration for her. She, a single woman in her thirties, started this work pretty much completely on her own. She has a board who helps her, but they are all people with jobs and a life besides Partners. So most of the time Sarah is on her own. She does all the accounting, all the strategizing, all the communications, all the representations, all the donor development, all the budgeting, all the planning, all the stamp licking and all the phone calls on her own.
Not only that, but the money she gets for the job she is doing is so little that any little treat makes a big dent in her personal budget. She lives as cheaply as she can, rarely eating out, rarely buying stuff for herself, rarely going anywhere extravagant. Her desire is that as much of the money as possible that she raises should go to help the people of Burma.
Sarah could have gotten a good-paying job if she had chosen to. She is that skilled. She is that qualified. Instead she works more than full-time for less than a full-time salary, with very few benefits and special privileges so that she can help change Burma, one child at the time.
I am always so impressed, humbled and in awe when I meet people like Sarah. What is it in this for you? I wonder. Not prosperity, not fame, not good working hours, not a safe retirement, not popular friends, not a new car, not your photo in any headlines. No, if that was what she was looking for, Sarah would have chosen one of all the other jobs she easily could have gotten.
The reason she does what she does, working on a team with only herself, making less money than college students is because she believes in what she is doing. She has a desire to be a change in the world. She wants to be a part of that change. She has seen how little it takes to help a lot. She knows that with God on her side, she has what it takes to get the job done.
She dreams that one day Partners UK will be big enough to hire more staff, for her to make a decent salary and for them to send much more money to Burma than they are currently doing. She dreams that one day she will be able to say: I did it! I didn’t give up, even when it was hard, and it was totally worth it! Because of Sarah many people in Burma are eating today, going to school today, are getting medical help today. That is something that will get her a medal in heaven. If not before.