a one-off thing

OK guys, I’m going to do a thing I don’t do often (and even less often in online than I do offline): I’m going to ask you if you’ll consider donating some money to the people I work for over the next two days as part of the Big Give. And when I say ‘for’ – I mean the big for, the end goal for, rather than the for that pays my salary – the people on the ground the work the money is going towards is for.

Usually, while I’ll happily talk to people I know or meet about who I work for and why I work for them and why I think they’re pretty great and you should consider supporting them – and why should should consider it even if you’re not a Christian (given that I work for an explicitly Christian organisation), I don’t tend to talk a lot with any specificity online about who I work for and why. This is becaue it’s easier to manage that fuzzy boundary between my voice and their voice and the risk that my voice might pose, etc, etc (because, guys, “all views my own,” on your twitter bio, we all know that’s pointless, right?) if I’m not specific.

But hey, this is an opportunity with a pretty small window, and I think it might be worth it on this occasion. This thing called the Big Give is taking place – and how it works is like this: there’s a large pot of funding available, and it will be used to match donations given by people to a specific organisation and project over a few days. A chunk of match funding is released at 10am (GMT, people) each morning, and donations are accepted from the general public until all the match funding for the day is gone. It’s pretty simple.

The specific thing that we’re looking for donations towards is the creation and support of Self-Help groups in Ethiopia. Fundamentally it’s about groups of people coming together in their communities to support each other in making a difference to their lives and communities. We work on the training: how these groups work and what they can achieve, and then they decide what to do to meet the needs of their community. It’s about creating a change in people’s physical and spiritual wellbeing – individually and as a community. The video on this page will tell you more, and then you can find out more about Tearfund from there, if you want to.

So, I know that there are a large bundle of organisations out there who are bidding for your attention and your donations on every available media stream, and I can’t tell you why you should give to us and not them, but I can tell you why I think you should give to us. I can tell you that I think the work that we do is intelligent, and sustainable, and completely open to everyone who needs it on the ground. That I think our expertise and the way that we think about what we do and how we do it to make a serious, long-term difference is worth paying for, and so you should stop looking for the lowest overheads out there. I can tell you that it’s a great organisation to work for, and that everyone I’ve met tells me that it’s a great organisation to work with – and that we primarily work with local churches and organisations, supporting their programmes, rather than running our own (it’s different where we’re working in humanitarian disaster situations).

I can’t tell you about the work in Ethiopia specifically, because I’ve not been there, but I can tell you about having seen the work that we’ve funded in India, in the Red Light districts of Mumbai: with kids and with women in brothels, and the work we’ve done inspiring and equipping people to get involved in making a difference themselves:

And so, while the children were adorable and wonderful, and, well, children, the highlight, for me, was watching the group I was with engage with the project and the challenges it faces. The majority of the group was young women – between about 20 – 40 years old, from all around the world, but all working in some way with people and communities affected by trafficking. The questions they asked, and connections they made, with our hosts and with each other is the thing that gives me hope. At one moment, we were talking about how hard it is to break the cycles that exist in the Red Light District – and one of them said, yes, but that puts all the pressure on the women and children living in the area, but imagine if the demand for the sex trade went away, what then? How much difference would that make? (Answer: A Very Lot of Difference) And it was straight into 15 minutes of how can we challenge men to treat women differently and want something that isn’t this for a relationship with a woman. It was amazing to hear, and there was a huge boldness in them, the work they’re doing and the things they want to work for. They want to dream big dreams, and meet the challenges head on, and after this week, they get to do it together, even if they’re scattered across the country. And they’re not going to be satisfied with just keeping their finger in the dyke.

And I can tell you that it works, and it has an impact on peoples lives, and that I’m proud to be a part of it – and that after working for this, working for anything I can’t be this proud of would be really, really hard. And I hope that’s enough for you.

If it is, this is the Big Give page. Be there at 9:59 tomorrow morning. Or Saturday morning. Thank you.

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