Monday 5 October 2015

Don't just blog it, go and do it...Volunteer to make a difference.

I keep seeing what can only be described as 'jumping on the bandwagon' posts, tweets and Facebook updates.

It seems the whole world cares these days about every single issue.

A celebrity posts a photo of a hunter in Africa and the world jumps on board.

A newspaper publishes a photo of a boy, dead, washed up on the beach and everyone is writing about it and raising money by providing a link to a donation page to support the migrants who made it safely across the water.

A child goes missing or is murdered and the world stands still and asks how it could happen.

There's a Tsunami, a landslide, a bombing, 100's of people crushed. Everyday there is a news story about the plight of someone, a nation etc every single day.

Some stories become global, some are covered up, some never see the light of day.

But does 'jumping on the band wagon' when a story go global, actually help in anyway to change opinions, views, activities of individuals, groups, religion, countries or does it just raise awareness for a day, a few thousand pounds for a charity or just a case of having a clear out and donated unwanted items to a charity?

But what then? It simply becomes yesterday's news, tomorrow's chip papers and we all move back to our safe lives and await the next disaster.

I'm sure a lot of people feel better for it having reposted, made a donation or written a blog post with a donation link, but is it actually helping? changing lives long term or changing the way world behaves?

There have been many issues over the past few years that have touched my heart, made me think there for the grace of god go I. I did the ice bucket challenge and donated, I wrote a blog post. I had plenty of shares, comments and views but did my R200 actually make a difference to anyone's life? I have no idea, as I never went back to the organisation I donated to, to ask.

I've baked cakes for the Macmillan coffee morning, I've sponsored friends children to raise funds for their school/Children in Need but I've never asked, how my small donation added up with everyone else's, what the money was spent on? services or equipment? I have no idea.

So I stopped and I focused on supporting vulnerable children in South Africa. Yes I've asked for money for donations for a pushchair so a mother could take her disabled child with her to work so she didn't lose money. I've asked for money to buy sweets for children in informal settlements for Easter, money to bake cakes for a birthday or Christmas. I spent 4 years promoting a charity that collects and distributes over 100,000 gifts to disadvantaged children in South Africa, built and equipped a school a 2 hour drive west of Kruger National Park, helped locals in a search and rescue to find 3 boys swept away by floods. I've provided blankets for the needy in winter, helped women get into employment, trained teachers, painted shacks in local communities. I've supported an organisation with providing rape counselling.

Despite now living in Dubai, I've still supported these charities this year, making scarves and bags to sell to raise funds, blog posts and running social media accounts. I've raised funds from family and friends, but it just isn't enough.

Companies are ignoring me, charities won't work with me, jeez I can't even get a couple of online groups to RT me and promote the charity work I do. Why not? Because I don't tell individual's stories of their suffering, I don't post pictures of the vulnerable children or dare I say it I'm just NOT popular or influential for people to bother with me.

I'm not in it to look good, I'm not in it for the number of shares, likes and RT's on social media. I'm in it because this is what I do, support vulnerable children, raise funds (spend my own money) give my time, go back year on year to volunteer, support and just be there to help out in anyway I can.

I have a Go Fund Me page, I tried Just Giving, I've asked directly for donations and every penny and every item I've been given has gone directly to a child in need. Not one penny has been taken out for any kind of expense. I provide every receipt, I show you what was purchased and tell you where it was taken. Where I am allowed I will take a photo of the child/organisation to show you them with your donation, but they look happy in the pictures, because they are happy with the gift, they want to smile for the cameras and despite what you see in the media, poverty does not always mean upset.

I just know what else I can do, to make a bigger difference to the children and organisations I support other than just keep on giving them my time, which makes more of a difference to people's lives than it does 'jumping on the bandwagon' then moving onto the next 'popular' news item.

If anyone wants to know more about the projects I'm working on in South Africa in October and November please get in touch. In the meantime just give me shout out to my Go Fund Me page to see what I'm fundraising for and watch out for social media updates while I'm in South Africa to see how time given can actually change lives far more than just blogging about it.

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