the wonderful world of veena.

21 March 2014

40 days of giving back, day fifteen: Stand Up, Stand Out.

Today's challenge was one of those that could have gone a lot of ways, and eventually this is what I landed on. Bear with me.

Today we were challenged to be an ambassador for a charity or a cause that we are passionate about. I think that it's been made clear on this blog a number of times the causes - girls' education, women's rights, responsible travel, access to primary education, etc - that I am passionate about, so we don't need to go into those today.

And I've mentioned a lot of the organizations that I love around the world, so today, instead of just highlighting and speaking about one, I thought I would provide a list of my favourites and a "brief" blurb about the work they are doing and why I love them so much. Feel free to click on the links to learn more about the work of each organization and to find out how you can become more involved in the issues they are working on.

Room to Read's vision is simple: World Change Begins With Educated Children. To accomplish that goal, the organization builds libraries and schools in partnership with communities in 10 countries in Asia and Africa. In addition to this, Room to Read provides financial and material support through their Girls' Education program to give more girls access to secondary education in areas where they usually do not have the opportunity to complete school. I've worked with Room to Read, and I've raised money for Room to Read, and they are an organization that I will always love to hear and learn more about.

St Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis works tirelessly to find cures for childhood illnesses, and no child is ever turned away from St Jude because of a family's inability to pay for treatment. The daily operating cost for St Jude is nearly $2 million, and almost all of that money comes from individual contributions. It's a wonderful hospital, one where my father worked over 30 years ago, and one that has treated friends of mine, and it is probably the one place I will never say 'no' to donating to.

The Wandering Samaritan is the brand new nonprofit startup that I have been working for for the last 2 months, so I can't miss out on mentioning here. Our goal is to raise money for our Miracle Bank whose funds will be allocated to travelers so they can create random acts of kindness along their journeys. Those medical clinics that need new supplies? Our Samaritans can provide those. That sustainable income source a father - or mother - needs to feed his/her children? Our Samaritans can invest in an animal that will provide just that. We are getting ready to launch our pilot phase, so any interested travelers out there should get in touch with us about being in our first group of Samaritans.

Peace Child India, the NGO in Bangalore that I worked for for 4 years. They teach English to government school children around the city and run a program at a government home for street and working children to teach them English and Maths as well as life skills. Peace Child is always on the hunt for new volunteers, so if you've always wanted to volunteer in India, you should take a look at the work they are doing. And as a bonus: if you decide to intern with them, you get to live on a beautiful sustainable farm in a village outside the city. It's one of my most happy places.

Girl Rising is a film that highlights the importance of educating girls. The film tells the story of 9 extraordinary girls from around the world who have overcome hardships and obstacles to complete their education and who have become advocates and spokeswomen for this important cause. As mentioned earlier, I had the opportunity last week to meet Holly Gordon, the Executive Director and Executive Producer of the film, and to learn more about how it was made and also why it is so important. There are many opportunities to host or attend screenings of the film, and it is also now available to stream or for purchase.

There are plenty of other great organizations around the world, but we'll stick with these for today. And I encourage everyone to learn more about one of these movements or to find your own that you are passionate about and to do whatever you can to help them out. Obviously the most important thing for each of these is the financial support people provide, but never underestimate the power of hard work and in-kind donations. Find out what is needed, and do what you can to make that happen.

Every little bit, no matter how small, helps. Remember that.

Previous Tasks:
Day One - Start a Journal
Day Two - Create a Generosity Jar
Day Three - Tool Up
Day Four - Connect
Day Five - An Attitude of Gratitude
Day Six - Reach
Day Seven - Redial
Day Eight - o.t.t.
Day Nine - Listen, carefully
Day Ten - Talent Show
Day Eleven - one green thing
Day Twelve - #nofilter
Day Thirteen - Go Local
Day Fourteen - Shhhhh

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