I went to a friend’s house for a bit of Christmas cheer at the weekend. It was so nice to catch up and have a bit of a laugh. The conversation turned to my impending unemployment and so my trip to Uganda. One friend remarked that I’m the closest to Gandhi out of all our friends. While this was a lovely thing to say, I was also struck with fear! I’m no where near Gandhi! I’m just struggling as so many people are to fit in my ideals alongside leading a ‘normal’-ish life which includes a path to material stability (a house one day with a garden would be nice) but I haven’t given up the material like Gandhi did – in Uganda I’m even going to be lucky enough to have a sofa!
What I really fear is that my friends see what I do as something they could not do and so hold me up on some pedestal without really hearing me or seeing my need for support. You may think that compared to the struggle for children in Uganda your own struggle is not important. But it is. I’m really not going to do well if my friends think that I’m now some hippy who’s off to start a new ‘self-less’ life who you won’t hear from again (I can hear some of you saying that you’ve always known I was a hippy – ok ok, you got me).
Anyway! So, friends, what can you do to be ‘good’? Well I’m sure that many of you are already doing a lot that makes you Gandhi-like. Do you give money to charity? Do you help people out with directions? Do you let an elderly person have your seat on the tube? Do you ask your colleagues how their weekend was? It’s little things that build up to make a ‘good society’ but it can also be helped by coming at each day from a ‘good’ approach like having an underlying ideal of the workplace you want to create or keeping in mind quotes or philosophies that really mean something to you.
For me, I know that I’m no good without the support of my friends and family. I wouldn’t even be considering this trip if it wasn’t for the many conversations I’ve been having which end in ‘don’t worry, you’ll get a job when you get back, no worries’ or ‘I think this is great, let me know how I can help’. With this kind of support I’m really blessed. So with all these offers to help and support me, what do I really need? Well I’m really struggling to say this (hence the very long preamble) but what I need is donations to the charity.
With enough donations, I can help the Project to do extra things like epilepsy drugs for one of the 40+ children who can’t afford them (£5) or make sure every kid who needs one has a wheelchair (£150). But donations are also needed even just to make up the basic activities – due to the economic crisis the exchange rate has gone crazy since July http://www.exchange-rates.org/history/UGX/GBP/G meaning that even the basics like medicines and fuel are squeezed. Without donations, then I’ll just be out there doing crisis management, trying to do the best of a bad job with ever decreasing funds. Sorry to get heavy but that’s the story. So what would we spend it on? What are basic activities? Find out about the amazing work of the Children’s Project from the newsletters on our website www.chillichildren.org.uk .
So if you’re still with me (and I appreciate that asking for money is a great way to ‘lose friends and alienate people’ but stay with me) then you might be asking: How do I donate?
There are a few options. Easiest is online via my fundraising page: www.justgiving.com/rebeccathorn Or you can just donate via your online banking (ask me for bank details). Or just slip me a fiver next time we meet. Or if you are not afraid of a little commitment then set up a standing order (ask me for the form) – 10 people giving even small regular donations would double our current number of regular givers, helping us to move status from crisis to surviving.
If you can’t donate at the moment, then please don’t worry. Just by reading this blog and keeping touch, you’re supporting me. As I leave work this week I’m at risk of losing a whole bunch of really wonderful friends so the keeping in touch bit is really important! Got it? Now, pull me off that pedestal and let’s go have a spiritually uplifting pint!
In return for all this support, I leave you with some Gandhi inspiration. This quote reminds me that we shouldn’t live racked with guilt or self-doubt, we should just act to help others and be happy with ourselves:
“I will give you a talisman. Whenever you are in doubt, or when the self becomes too much with you, apply the following test. Recall the face of the poorest and the weakest man whom you may have seen, and ask yourself, if the step you contemplate is going to be of any use to him. Will he gain anything by it? Will it restore him to a control over his own life and destiny? In other words, will it lead to swaraj [freedom] for the hungry and spiritually starving millions? Then you will find your doubts and your self melt away.”
Mahatma Gandhi, January 1948