I have been blessed enough to meet some amazing people through my travels and years before. People who have gone and done awesome things to help others. It makes my heart sing to know that I can be part of change in countries, families or for just one individual through donations to some of these projects.
If you are looking for some remarkable people and organisations to partner with, here are some of my heroes:
Founded by my friend Vicky Taylor in the UK (who passed away in 2015 but her legacy lives on), under her network Free Range Chicks, after she learned that nine million girls aged 10 to 18 in Africa miss a quarter of their education due to a lack of sanitary products. An embarrassing subject for sure, but one that is so easily overcome, and one that we in the West take for granted. Dignity has partnered with African Child Trust and is working with Nyezera School in Southern Malawi to provide simple things like underwear and sanitary pads so they may not have to miss school.
Aussie couple Ben and Cherie McGonagle were in Cambodia as missionaries when they were overwhelmed by the plight of young girls, sometimes homeless, begging on the streets in rags hoping to recycle some plastic for a bowl of rice. They were in grave danger of being raped, abused and kidnapped into the sex trafficking trade. Cherie set up the Princess Project which helps these children out of that situation by building relationships with their families (if they have one), providing food, clothing, accommodation, medical care in return for them going to school five days a week. They don’t run an orphanage, preferring to equip an extended family member to take the child in or providing a local Khmer foster family. I love their work and love that little girls are being valued and having their lives turned around.
When my friend John Blaiklock, a builder, and a few others went to Uganda on a missions trip they were touched by the desire for families to see their kids get an education, some would walk two hours just to get to school, and two hours home again. Oh how we take our free Western education system for granted! He set about buying land with local community leaders and building classrooms. Then, as the years went on it became apparent that due to the need for water, children would sometimes have to spend the best part of a day walking to the nearest well and back again, so they began to build water wells in villages so that they could be freed up to go to school.
I love that everything John raises he pours into BE. They also run a campaign called “small change” where you set up an AP for just $1 a week (or go crazy and set up $5 per month!) I have been doing this for a couple of years now and while it’s so insignificant to me, when we all combine, it adds up to allowing them to achieve everything they are doing.
My friend Nic Gaze is on the board of this New Zealand charity and I went along to a fundraising dinner recently. I was so moved by the girls who have been helped. Young girls from 16-28 years can apply for this full-time residential 6-month program and have turned their lives around from the brink of despair, depression, unplanned pregnancy, self-harm, suicide attempts through abuse or other tragedy, through this live-in home. They learn life skills, have one on one counselling and a faith-based curriculum until they are ready to go out and take it to the world. To see the beautiful and eloquent young ladies on the stage telling us about what our donations have done for them and their families, was truly humbling.
You’ll know Tear Fund, they’ve been around for 40 years, starting in the UK. They make no bones about being a faith-based organisation who are moved to act out of a sense of justice and compassion. They put faith in action. They have an ache to help end poverty and work with organisations on the ground to assist in reaching that lofty goal. They are quick to be on the ground when natural disasters and war strikes, they work with children in need and empower the poor to help themselves in a number of ways.
I have been supporting 6-year old Gilbert for a year now. He lives in Indonesia and in partnership with Compassion International he is getting an education, medical care and his family are being looked after by their local church. I pay $48 per month and I am his only sponsor. He writes to me (it is translated by his teacher) and I write back. (I owe him a letter!)
This charity is dear to my heart because I co-founded it as a national day in New Zealand in 2005! It all started after one of my friends was watching a bit of road rage on Auckland’s congested motorway and thought, what if there was ONE day when everyone was kind?! What a great idea, we thought, and four of us set about creating RAK Day in New Zealand on September 1st. It’s been amazing see the phrase go from being largely an American concept thanks to movies like “Pay it Forward”, into part of our every day vernacular in NZ. People, businesses, churches, schools, the media have gotten on board and we’ve seen and heard some incredible stories of people being surprised by acts of kindness – for no reason at all.