Loading

Be the change you want to see.

Welcome Down The Rabbit Hole

2020 has presented the world with with a myriad of challenges being met in succession. The events that continue to transpire are radically reshaping our societies and mindsets. People have been tasked with navigating the wellbeing of themselves, their livelihood, and conscious contribution to social justice. Our individual and collective ability to adapt is continually being pushed. With the future uncertain, we must be proactive in creating our reality. We must be the change we want to see.

“Be The Change You Want To See” is a photo-journalistic design campaign focused on highlighting the amazing people working to shape a better future and call to action to all that want to learn more and get involved.

“...It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love and protect one another. We have nothing to lose but our chains.”—Assata Shakur
New Delhi, India

Sumit

Our world is never more innocent and filled with wonder than when discovered through the eyes of a child. A child’s life is like a blank book—not confined to any one genre or to a set number of pages. However, we do pray every child is blessed with a novel instead of a short story. After returning from a volunteer trip to Delhi, India, and one child’s story, Sumit Singh, has captured my attention and I want to ensure his story is told and helps inspire the change he would like to see in the world.

Each person’s upbringing has its own challenges and privileges. These unique yet communal experiences intertwine to make up our world. So how have we come to this crossroad of human history? Unable to distinguish between right and wrong, between what is beneficial for the individual and detrimental to the world. Is this the world we envisioned as children? Children from all walks of life should be allowed to reach beyond the stars and strive to be superheroes, politicians, doctors, writers, or whatever their goals may be. The words, mind, and heart of Sumit affirmed my belief in the importance of giving all children hope and resources for achieving their dreams.

Image by: Felicity Baguley

I feel extremely fortunate and privileged to have traveled to a beautiful country like India and given the opportunity to live, learn, and make friends with some of the most incredibly strong, intellectual, and beautiful children on our planet. This same privilege compels me to use my words as a platform to shine light on a global crisis affecting too many of our world’s children and youth.

India has a population of 1.343 billion people—the third largest in the world. Forty-one percent of this population is 18 years old or younger. This high percentage of children invites alarming dangers for those without support. Poverty, child labor, and generational trafficking are very real threats for many Indian children. More than 20 million of that 41% are orphans abandoned or who have lost both of their parents. Indian children with families as well as orphans face challenges with which most western children can’t empathize.While in India, I visited several schools in India designed to help children with a multitude of disabilities that still use non-PC terms like mental retardation to blanket their disorders. I also visited many orphanages that need funding to allow children to continue their education.

Regardless of their circumstances, the children continued to have hope and demonstrate limitless potential, along with a yearning for knowledge. This brings us to Sumit Singh, a 14-year-old orphan with type two Osteogenesis Imperfecta, more commonly known as brittle bone disease. This genetic disorder affects Sumit’s entire quality of life. He lives on limited time, trapped in the warped body sized more for a toddler than a teenager. While his body may be stunted, Sumit’s mind is limited only by his resources. He excels in English, math, science, and art.

Image by:Felicity Baguley

I was fortunate enough to spend nearly a month with Sumit, who has not only become my hero and inspiration, but my friend as well. We have walked to school together, watched Spider-Man Homecoming, exchanged ideas, and played chess (he has not let me win a single game yet!). Sumit is a brilliant young man. I’ve come to see him as a star of India and a modern wonder that rivals the Taj Mahal. Sumit kindly provided me with an interview and I hope his words below speak to all of us and the children we are meant to be.

Q: Who do you strive to be and how does that benefit the world?

A: I want to make the world a better place for others through my studies like politician but not really because I want to help the little guys.

Q: Do you have any heros in real life?

A: Dr. Vishy is my hero. He is my uncle, my dad, and my God. He opened the orphanage for all of us and I can see God in Dr.Vishey. He is always helping with everything we want and need.

Q: Where did you grow up?

A: From the ages of one to eight I grew up with my family and two brothers. My brothers had the burden of taking me to school, but it was so far I couldn’t always go. After turning eight I was moved to the orphanage so I could continue my studies.

Q: How do you define your disease?

A: When I was six I found out I had OI (brittle bones disease). Sometimes I would cry, and ask God why he made me? From birth, I have had at least 22 fractures. Now I’m used to it like a habit.

Q: After going to school six days a week and studies after school how do you like to spend your free time?

A: Education is like a sword that can help you win any war. Without studying you can’t do anything in your life, education is my passion. Though when I can’t study anymore, I do like to draw cartoons and comics.

Q: Some people believe their lives are predestined by their parents. As an orphan what’s your opinion about your future?

A: I just want to make the world a better place anyway possible. Only a single person cannot do it on their own. You must make a group; connect with all communities to make the world a better place.

Q: What is happiness and how do you find it?

A: Happiness is a feeling, and when we are joyful our heart has light, our minds are fresh, and there are no bad ideas. Finding happiness is everywhere, in others, in self love, doing studies, even winning competition. It’s also a little luck, but with happiness we can make the world better.

Q: What was your first reaction to being diagnosed with OI?

A: I remember there was a wedding in our village. I would have liked to go to the wedding, but my family wouldn’t let me because it was too crowded. I was left home and I was so sad, angry, and crying I decided to leave home forever. My feet and arms aren’t that strong though and I could only crawl to the end of the road before I was too tired. A lady found me and brought me to her house. After feeding me she asked why I was alone and crying. I told her about my family and the wedding and she said I could live with her. She let me rest and when I woke up my family was there. They took me home and I realized I couldn’t run away. My first reaction was to run, but not anymore.

Q: Do people treat you different because they can see your OI and how would you like to be treated?

A: When I used to go somewhere people would talk about my hands and legs, they would give me rupees and I would think “This is good.” Eventually I realized that made me feel like a thing a showpiece. I realized I have to make my own way and money to prove I’m not a showpiece. I talk, feel, love and have happiness. I’m not a thing.

Q: Who is your fictional hero?

A: Shaktimaan and Spiderman. Shaktimaan is an Indian superhero and Spiderman was the first Hollywood movie I saw when I was seven. I have watched every Spiderman movie since. Tom Holland in Spiderman Homecoming is my favorite Spiderman. I would love his autograph. Tell him I am his biggest Indian fan.

Q: If you could help improve India what would be the first thing you would do?

A: I would give the people of India knowledge through radio, television, or movies. Just anyway they would listen to me.

Sumit’s Letter To The World (edited):

If we do good things we birth a cycle of good. If we do bad things we are trapped in a cycle of bad. Example, if one family wrongs another and it is responded to with hate, generations become trapped in a cycle of pain. It is no longer the 1950’s—we have made it to the 2000’s. We have had our World War I and II and still now people are bombing, shooting, and fighting. We have not found our balance our Krishna god of love. We cannot continue to live silently—we must speak and act in the voice of good to create the ripples to change the world.

Dr. Vishy that started the Global Orphanage in India 15 years ago and was kind enough to share a few words on the program and Sumit who is just one of the many orphans he wards.

Q: What inspired you to start the Global Orphanage?

A: After studying psychology in college I worked with a variety of people with mental health challenges. Seeing the need for support in that area and others India needed compelled me to start the orphanage.

Q: Do you have an end goal for the charity/orphanage?

A: I would like to expand and make the charity/orphanage bigger as well as self-sustaining.

Q: What is the ideal way for people to help contribute to the orphanage?

A: There are many ways people can help the children at the orphanage. Other then the necessities of food and hygiene items, are the experiences. The children need the interactions and experiences most of all. Being able to go to dinner in public, attend festivals, and community events. The activities they share with volunteers are just as important as anything monetary.

Q: What is your hope for Sumit’s future?

A: Sumit is a very bright child with an extraordinary brain. Regardless of his disability, I want him and all the orphans to become independent and stand on their own.

Sumit’s words are more than just perspective for us to appreciate all we have. It’s a global call to action. As individuals, it’s not our fault that we have been passed down a broken world. A world where a single breath can sometimes feel like it is too much to go on. Our once flourishing flora browns and withers, water turned to sewage, air to carbon. Nevertheless, if we are conscious enough to recognize these and so many more moral discrepancies, we are then bestowed with a new responsibility. We must fix ourselves and our planet—not for us—but for those who will remain long after we are gone. Sumit, our younger siblings, loved ones, nieces, nephews, and every child including orphans will inherit this planet. Whether that is a gift or burden is up to us. As individuals and a collective, we must work every day to be better and solve as many of our world’s issues as possible. Equally as important is the education, nurturing, and preparation of the next generations so they can solve the problems that we can’t. International borders should not limit our aid to human life throughout the globe. As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “An Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Sumit is just one of millions of children that not only need our help, but also have the potential to change the world. While living in the Global Orphanage, I learned something from each and every child I spent time with and they have given me more then I can ever return. Akash, Anile, Ajay, Kunal, Son, Surrender, Ragat, Rajkumar, and Sumit—thank you for every moment we have shared and I am proud of the amazing men and leaders you work to become every day. There are millions of names I don’t know and faces I have yet to meet, but to every single one of you I love you with all my heart. From the slums of India to my home in America you are loved, have been cried for, and will be advocated for on my behalf.

By Imani Christian McCray

Sumit and Imani
New York City, New York

The Virus

COVID-19 is caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and is part of a large family of coronaviruses (CoV).

Symptoms of COVID-19 resemble that of the common cold, with those infected often experiencing fever, coughing, and shortness of breath. However, infection can lead to pneumonia, multi-organ failure, severe acute respiratory syndrome, and even death in more severe cases. The elderly and those with preexisting chronic health conditions have accounted for the majority of deaths from COVID-19.

As of August 26, 2020, there had been cases of the disease in more than 210 countries or territories across 6 continents. China was initially the country most impacted by the disease, however the United States, Brazil, India, and Russia now have the most cases worldwide. As of this time, there had been over 24 million cases of COVID-19 worldwide, with over 5.95 million of these cases found in the United States.

In the United States, around 88 percent of adults think COVID-19 is a major threat to the domestic economy, while 49 percent feel it is a threat to their personal financial situation. In response to the impact on the U.S. economy, the United States government has passed a two trillion U.S. dollar relief bill, which is the largest economic stimulus package in U.S. history.

Physical Distancing

Many countries around the world enforced lockdowns to try to slow the spread of the disease. Such measures and restrictions vary from country to country but usually involve closing schools, canceling public events, closing borders, and encouraging people to work from home. As the number of new cases has slowed in certain countries, they have begun lifting lockdown restrictions.

Covid Impact on Health

As of August 26, 2020, there had been over 823 thousand deaths due to the virus, with the United States reporting the highest number of deaths of any country worldwide, followed by Brazil and Mexico. As of March 6, the World Health Organization (WHO) had estimated the crude mortality rate of COVID-19 to be between three and four percent.

Frontline Hero Stefani Bomfawk's Story

Interview with Stefani Bohmfawk

Baptist Medical Center

San Antonio Texas

Q: “How do you as a front-line nurse during COVID mentally prepare for what you have to do?”

A: Incoming to New York, there is nothing I could have done to mentally prepare for this myself. We had no idea what we would be walking into. When I was stationed at Queen's hospital it was literally like a medical warzone and nothing could have prepared me for that.

Q: Can you take us through a day in your life before COVID 19?

A: “I’m a shift supervisor at Baptist Medical Center in San Antonio helping preset and train nurses getting them where they need to be. Before COVID 19 I would go to work and not have to wear PPE or get my temperature checked before coming in, and it changed so much. I would be able to help nurses train them to help patients get seen as quickly as possible to treat them without having this fear we have now.

Q: Within the 40 days you have been here can you take me through a day that shook your reality?

A: My first time in Queens day 1 there were 159 patients in that ER everywhere. Two hours into my shift I left the ER and I was just crying, thinking about it now you get so emotional because there are so many people that need help and you can’t help them all. People need oxygen. You walk through and there are oxygen tanks everywhere people running out of O2. The saddest for me was having people die alone and seeing their families couldn’t be there. Trying to wake them up to unlock their phones to FaceTime families before they go, I will never forget that. In my time here I have had more deaths than in my entire nursing career, I have never put so many patients in body bags. Just being with them and hoping they had a good life and hoping their families find peace is what we all went through daily.

Q: When was the first time you heard of COVID-19 and what was your first reactions?

A: First time I heard about it was back in February, San Antonio was one of the few cities that got the first infected curies, ship passengers. I took care of the very first cruise ship passenger from Japan and that’s where I learned to care for these patients and anyone with potential COVID-19 symptoms. So, I knew and learned about COVID a couple of months before I came to New York and that’s how I ended up here.

Q: How did you end up in New York?

A: I saw the opportunity to come to New York with crucial staffing. The call came out on a Friday asking if I could be there Sunday. My work was so gracious to let me come up here and do the 21 days, then I signed up for another 21 days and here I am.

Q: Do you have anything you would like to say to the people helping by social distancing and staying inside?

A: I know people want to go back to their normal life and it's hard I want to go back to my normal life, I want to go shopping. Being on the front line and seeing the people that haven’t done that and can potentially lose their life I would have never believed it until I saw it here. You have to see it to believe it and I don’t wish everyone saw what I saw but understood how bad it is.

Q: What is the most significant experience you are missing during all this.

A: Being with my family and just being able to hug them. Everyone is so afraid of me to even touch me, and I get it because I’m here on the front lines. It’s the stuff you take for granted until you can’t do it. I miss my family so much I can’t wait to go back home, see them, and hug them.

Q: How do your family and friends feel about you coming to aide in New York on the front lines?

A: I have a son who is sophomore at Texas State University to pursue a career on Broadway. He introduced me to this city and I fell in love with it. He has a love for the arts and whenever I saw the conditions in New York I knew I had to come and help. They have all been so supportive of me coming here because they know the love my son and I have for this city it has been very heartbreaking for the both of us.

Q: Being on the front lines seeing the effect of this virus, how does this affect your goals and expectations for the future?

A: Seeing what I saw at Queens I know that social distancing is the answer. If we don’t all do that, we all end up where New York was before. There is a huge difference from when I came to right now, but social distancing is the key anyone can contract this I have seen people from 18 – 103. It’s easy to contract, you don’t know you have it and these patients end up circling the drain really quickly.

The Queen's staff was truly remarkable with how they welcomed us from day one. They didn’t have a choice. They had to come in day in and day out until they had relief. They are the true heroes and it breaks my heart what they had to endure for so long without help and I will never forget how grateful they were once we arrived. -Stefani Bohmfawk
Breonna Taylor was murdered March 13th 2020 in Louisville, Kentucky . George Floyd was murdered May 25th 2020 Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Murder of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd

Protest

Worldwide protest breaks out in a global call to action for Black Lives Matter and the Defunding and Demilitarization of the police.
Abolition Park
NYC, Brooklyn Bridge
"As a white person I was born into the body of an oppressor, which is of course a dynamic I didn’t choose. Thereby I feel that through black liberation, we can all be liberated, Free from the roles and consequences of both oppressed and oppressor" -Lucas Kane
"The thing I think people need to know most about abolition is the police/prisons fundamental relationship to slavery. " -Tiffany
The original message of Occupy City Hall was to defund the police. Day after day, we worked towards organizing and structuring. Day by day it began to feel more like home. It didn’t feel like coming to city hall, it felt like coming to my hood where I belonged. -9blocc_psyco
You can’t know what we know and not want to fight and do something. Once you have this knowledge you have a responsibility. -Vedastheoffical
Don't forget why we are out here at City Hall, Black Lives Matter. We keep us safe.

Relly_rebel

Washington DC

How to help

Verb "ACT" Get out there and be the change you want to inspire!

The only borders and limitations on making a positive impact on the world are the ones we create by not bettering ourselves.

Created By
Imani McCray
Appreciate

Credits:

Imani McCray