For the past twenty years I have been actively involved in fund raising for various charities, from Leukaemia Research through to overseas projects, mainly in Africa. I have always found that my friends and colleagues have been overly generous with their donations and collectively we have been able to assist in a monetary way. However, lots of people say the same thing: “If only I could do something more than give money".
As you may be aware every charity has internal costs and so therefore not all of the money raised goes direct to the cause intended. Unfortunately this is the nature of the beast and without these charities some of the neediest would be completely destitute.
I personally had become disillusioned with simply donating money - for me it is an easy option. I therefore feel that my money, time and effort could be put to better use by ensuring 100% of my effort and contribution goes directly to where I want it to go.
I came up with the idea of giving something back in a constructive way. I love children therefore it was quite easy to know what area I wanted to work in and the rest was about finding the right project.
I was looking for something that invites people to make a real difference and contribute in a way that requires them to "step up to the plate" by committing to help children and assist first hand to connect with the people that really need your support.
Is quite simple really, to encourage individuals to give up a week or two of their working lives in order to volunteer on our project and assist a small community in developing resources for its orphanage. The charity we have decided to work with is SOS Children's Villages in Botswana.
As most people cannot afford to take a year off work to help, it was important that the project fitted in with the requests of the village and also the volunteers availability.
Please read more of this website to learn about our work.
Through working with the committee, I had no fixed idea as to where I was going to help, however I knew what I wanted to do and why.
Therefore, the next important thing was to find the project. With the assistance of the committee we collated a project plan which looked at key issues which had to be answered, i.e distance from the UK, whether it was safe, English speaking, hospitals, safety of volunteers, etc (this document can be provided). This was then sent off to a few organisations which I felt fitted with our values. After evaluating the potential projects I was invited to go to Botswana and see SOS Childrens Villages for myself.
A key criteria was that I had to road test the project plan prior to expecting anyone else to visit. If it did not work, i.e no running water, big spiders etc then we would look for another project. SOSCV exceeded my expectations in terms of the work and success that has been demonstrated with the orphans that have passed through their hands. This is evidenced by the tracking footprints document which follows the lives of the children once they have left the orphanage.
So in short it is safe, easily accessible, has access to medical facilities, villagers that are welcoming of support and will work with us to establish what they want. In essence a match made in heaven but on earth. This has now been fully tested with eight very succesful trips to date.
Map of Botswana
Map of Botswana
SOS Children Villages (SOSCV) house over 500 orphans in a country that it is estimated to have nearer 200k orphans. These children mainly come from backgrounds where their parents have died through Aids. Currently the life expectancy is just 38. In addition SOSCV provide outreach work to a further 1000 children via day care programmes and home visits with assistance from social services. As you can tell they are only touching the tip of the iceberg and the problem is going to get bigger. WE CANNOT FIX THIS, but we can make a small difference to the children that have been saved thus far.
We provided funds to build the Project Volunteer house in Serowe, which officially opened in june 2009, our fundraising now is focused on annual upkeep and specific projects.