Thursday, 26 June 2014

Harnessing Your Powers For Good.

In 2012 World Vision Australia took a huge risk and sent a blogger to Niger, West Africa to write about the food crisis.

They sent me.

It was the most bold, audacious, scary, and incredibly meaningful thing I've ever done in my life. The weight of a lot of people was on my shoulders, and I needed to do it RIGHT. I was exhausted by the time I even got there, just from travel. I only had five days, and it had more impact if I blogged every day about what I'd seen and felt so I did, staying up all hours, trying to get the magic internet signal to publish my post for the people back home, reading along.

And when I pressed post, thousands of people responded. Donating money, sponsoring children, writing posts of their own, and sharing on Facebook. It was an incredible example of harnessing the power of social media for GOOD.

After everything that's happened, I still believe in doing good in this world. The children above in that photograph are the ones I remember the most. It was the refugee camp on the first day and they got way too close to me for my liking. They had clammy, germy hands. Runny noses. Hardly any clothes. No toys, no houses.

But the smiles and the look of joy, simply because I came to visit them. Bloody hell. My heart.

I travelled five, six hours every day on dusty roads just to get to remote villages. (It sucked.) I had to somehow turn what I was seeing into palatable pieces of information to move people enough back home to want to do something, or to donate if they could. So proud to learn that Aussies are among the most generous people in the world ... see this water well?

Australians bought and built and donated this water well. To a village so far remote from Niger that it didn't even have a proper name.

The village had been there for over a hundred years and so many people would get sick from not having clean water until that well was installed a few years ago. Now nobody gets sick, and the people jostle each other to take turns to fill their buckets.

World Vision programs and people and aid workers did that. Imagine what it feels like to save lives, every single day.

I wrote a whole post about Zenouba, peeking out shyly from her mothers side. At first we all talked to the mother about the baby boy she was holding, but it quickly became apparent that on her first trip to the baby health clinic (a six hour-walk away!) her baby weighed in just fine but the aid workers noticed how thin Zenouba was, so asked to weigh her too. She was dangerously malnourished, and was put on the plumpy-nut program implemented by World Vision and other aid organisations. She was doing really well, putting on about half a kilo a week.

                                 Zenouba and her mum and baby brother

                                 Her health book - kinda like our blue books here in the west.

If is still alive, she would be seven years old now. How I hope that to be true.

                                       This is the birthing room. Yep.

We visited this ladies garden right in the middle of nowhere. World Vision had introduced a farming and harvesting program, using new seeds that have never been grown there before. Most people are hesitant to try new things but when they do and they WORK ..... it's a big success for the entire village.

These luscious green beauties were grown after crops had failed for the fourth year in a row. When crops fail, families uproot their lives and travel to somewhere else, becoming refugees, many dying in the process. World Vision operate not just in emergencies, but using long-term projects and goals, to help people stay and thrive in their own countries and communities.

And when the projects are complete, they hand them back over to the communities who can then handle it themselves. It's so awesome, and worthwhile, and good.

I also did a blogger trip to India in that same year but I won't write about that right now because I'll probably lose your attention and that's quite enough talking about do-gooding for one day, amirite? The trick with blogging about social media for social good is capturing peoples attention long enough and trying to make them care. (I know I have incredibly beautiful blog readers who care. You never stop blowing me away with your insight and wisdom and love, Computer. I need to thank you more.)

I went to Melbourne this week for a World Vision blog ambassador day, met up with some people I know from before and a whole new wave of new people!

With WV Manager Stephen Ellis and the gorgeous Scoop Nutrition blogger Emma Stirling

I almost didn't go. Because in the time since I went to Africa my stepfather died from cancer and then I was hospitalised three times and then my brother died. My brother took his own life, did you know? Thousands, millions of people die around the world every day but my brother died, he died. And I don't know how to get through. I don't. Just when I think it's ok, it all falls down around me again, worse than ever.

I cried to Dave in the kitchen the day before I was due to leave for Melbourne and told him I can't go. He knows how much I love World Vision so he came with me. And I am so, so glad I went. I met a whole new group of bloggers, eager to come onboard and work with World Vision too, use their social media for something other than shoes. (Not that there's anything wrong with shoes!)

It's exciting to be part of it. It's nice to feel excited about something. I can't wait to see what we do next.


Ways you can help without even getting out of your chair:

Download a cool World Vision button for your blog from HERE
Sign up for the 40 Hour Famine in August HERE (Great alternatives for kids there too!)
Follow World Vision on twitter HERE
Like World Vision on Facebook HERE
Sponsor a child and change their life forever HERE

Have a lovely day. I'm off to therapy. Then I might sit in the sun for a bit. Maybe cry. Wipe my tears, get boys from school, cook dinner, etc. I am truly so lucky.

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