Warning: Les Miserables movie spoilers!
I recently went to watch the new movie, Les Miserables, based on the book -made musical- by Victor Hugo. I was somewhat pressured into seeing it, and broke my rule about reading the book before seeing the film, but my curiosity bested me. All the Facebook updates, about “loving it,” “sobbing the whole way through,” and “how beautiful!” the story was, etcetera, encouraged me to go. So I went, arming myself with a box of tissues.
Wow. After the movie finished I took the drive home quietly. Pensive. Thinking. Processing all of the misery, love, fear, hate, despair, and forgiveness I had seen flashed upon the big screen in front of me. I felt an inner sense of relief- my life was not that hard, an emotion then coupled with more than a little guilt at this revelation of relief and newfound gratitude for my luxurious American world. Les Mis had put up some shocking lenses through which I viewed my extremely blessed lifestyle. For a moment I was SO glad that people did not have to live and suffer like that anymore.
Oh. Oh. It does exist. The people of Les Miserable may not live in France, but they are still here. Heartbroken. Hopeless. Jean Valjeans living in a cruel, merciless justice system. Women working long hours in sweat shops, scraping together all they have to feed their own ‘Cosettes,’ only to be fired and tossed out onto a dark and dirty path. There are still ‘Fontines,’ women and girls left with no choice but the shame and pain of selling their hair, teeth, bodies. The true poverty and misery depicted in Les Miserables is still very present today, in our 21st century. What now?
There are also the bishops, giving up wealth and time to invest in people’s lives, giving away their silver candlesticks and a word of hope to men who are desperate.
‘Monsieur le Mayors’ are employing the poor women, giving them a fair wage, seeking out the sick and prostitutes- actually caring for them, showing them love in action.
Jean Valjeans are finding orphans and giving them a new life.
These good characters and more are out in the world right now, doing good and giving life to the masses.
The Global Shoppe helps these characters, helps them help those in need.
JOYN in India are employing the street children, lepers, and outcast, providing work with love and care.
International Nepal Fellowship helps and provides training for the outcast people with disabilities.
Sasa designs employs deaf people in Kenya.
Tukula business invests in the local people of Uganda.
Kingdom Crafts Nepal actively works to stop the human trafficking and give young girls (Fontine’s) a future outside of prostitution.
Heavenly Treasures exists to break the cycles of poverty and give hope.
Mama Carmen’s Espresso Cafe was created to purchase coffee from a micro-lot coffee farm in Guatemala, giving local farmers a way to support their families and community. It also provides support to Mama Carmen, a Guatemalan women fighting the unfair justice system which overlooks the hundreds of orphans she loves and lives for.
All these businesses and partners are, in their own special way, a bishop or Jean Valjean of Les Miserables. But even a Jean Valjean needs help from a bishop, or a shelter and trust from a convent gardener. If Les Miserables gave you a perspective of what poverty looks like, invest in the Jean Valjeans and kind bishops across the globe, working with the poor, helpless, lepers, and destitute. Choose whichever character best suits you, but let yourself be a person who makes a difference in the world of Les Miserables as it is today.