BY JONES BOB
Azalea Lehndorff is one of my heroes.
I met Azalea in Red Deer, Alberta a few years ago in the offices of “A Better World” – a non-profit, humanitarian organization. She envisioned making the world a better place one day and one school at a time. She’s still going strong almost five years later.
When Azalea read the book “Three Cups of Tea,” by Greg Mortenson, she had no idea that it would profoundly alter the direction of her own life.
After she had read the dramatic account about a young mountain climber who decided, against all odds, to build a school in rural Pakistan, the story of her own life began to unfold in ways she never dreamed possible.
“…after I read the book I was really inspired. I was so excited, I couldn’t sleep. I just kept thinking he was so young, but he was still able to do it…” So began Azalea’s own humanitarian journey. “My idea was to build classrooms in Afghanistan for girls. I felt empowered and I saw an opportunity to do something huge.”
She set a goal to build 100 classrooms in Afghanistan. Her first step was to connect with Eric Rajah, co-founder of A Better World, and together decided to try and motivate 5000 Canadians to rise $100 each through community organized runs. So began the Freedom 5000 runs in 2009.
Five schools for girls have now been built through Azalea’s efforts. Over 10,000 students now have an opportunity to learn. You can read about the schools here. She has helped raise over $500,000 and traveled to Afghanistan multiple times, working with government officials to build the schools. She is currently a student at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. Education has always been something important to Azalea and something to fight for. Her own family life was unstable to say the least when she was growing up. She moved 23 times by the time she was 13. She had to fight to go to school. Now she fights for the opportunity for others to go to school.
Sustainability of spirit is a key factor in world-changers. The biggest challenge to dreamers is to insure the dream lives on. Setbacks and apathy can suck the life out of a dreamer. That’s where seeing the contagious aspect of a dream is inspiring to the dreamer. Azalea’s life is inspiring other students todream their own dreams of helping others.
Hope givers need signs of hope. Azalea understands completely the magnitude of the task. “When I was coming home from Afghanistan I felt like 100 classrooms would not even begin to meet the need. I prayed for a sign of hope for the future. Almost instantly I saw a rainbow over Kabul.” When I was flying into Kabul I saw a child flying a kite. Under Taliban rule that was against the law. I know I need to keep going; to get the word out.”
Help Azalea get the world out – share her story on your FB page and go to “A Better World” for more info or how to donate.