A little while ago I attended the ActionAid UK Bloggers Tea Party Event. ActionAid is one of the UK’s largest international development charities helping poor children, families and communities in over 40 of the world’s poorest countries. I attended the event because I wanted to raise awareness about the fabulous work they do and also encourage those of us who can spare a few pennies to sponsor a child or hold a fundraising event to benefit those in other countries who are much less fortunate than us.
My children get tired of me banging on about how privileged we are, despite not having a lavish lifestyle. I want to explore ways that I can educate them about how rich and full their lives are compared with others around the world. There is a brilliant Schools Section on the ActionAid website which will help me to do just that, and I have been
nagging everyone who will listen lobbying my daughters school to use the resources as well.
At the Tea Party I listened to the talks and chatted to other bloggers whilst trying not to cry at the desperate conditions people deal with every day of their lives. I know there is a point where people get hardened to these images and don't give because they think most of the money is spent on admin and maybe not on those to need it. We’re much more likely to support a charity if we see where the money is going, and the real individuals it is benefiting.
We listened to a talk by Lynn and Spencer, a couple who don’t blog at all, who sponsor a 13 year old boy called Malafani in Lesotho. They had visited his village in Lesotho and were amazed by the welcome they received from those with so little and how basic facilities actually were. The villagers offered them a feast and villagers came from miles around to meet Lynn and Spencer. Their slide show and commentary of the trip they made personalised the whole process of child sponsorship. Lynn and Spencer also made a 20 minute film which they showed to the primary school class that their daughter teaches. The village school that Malafani attends is at the top of an enormous hill, it snows there in winter too. We were shown how far the children have to travel up the steep incline to their school and it is a real hike! The school, which is only one tiny room, caters for 90 children ranging in age from 5 to 15. Even though the people in the village had very little, they were being helped to improve facilities using money donated by Lynn and Spencer, along with other ActionAid sponsors, to make their lives better. ActionAid doesn't decide how the village should spend the money it receives, each village has a meeting and they prioritise their own needs - such as moving a school from the top of a mountain to the bottom.
If you sponsor a child with ActionAid, the money doesn’t just go to that child, it goes to that child’s community. You receive pictures and letters from that child which show the genuine benefits that your money and ActionAid’s hard work bring to that community. The "it just goes into a corporate black hole" cop out doesn't stack up when you can see water supplies being established by building wells that will allow gardens to be sewn and harvested, schools to be built and supplied with materials, and the community that you are contributing to improving before your eyes.
So what can you do?! You can sponsor a child, get in touch with ActionAid on Twitter, Facebook or via their website. You could hold a fundraising event, perhaps a morning or afternoon tea, to benefit ActionAid or lobby your childs school to sponsor a school or child elsewhere in the world through ActionAid.
|Photo courtesy of ActionAid|