Most of you know that I’m the President of Vulnerable Children Society, a registered Canadian charity supporting children and families living in extreme poverty and with HIV in Ethiopia.
First, I just wanted to draw your attention to some lovely pictures we posted on Vulnerable Children’s blog… there are group shots including many of the kids we sponsor through the House 2 House program. I won’t spoil it by posting them all here; just have look!
Secondly, I thought I would give you my thoughts on running a charity as a volunteer. It’s a lot of work: I spend on average 10 hours a week, mostly on the computer, emailing back and forth with partners and board directors, answering supporter’s emails, filing pictures and updates, matching kids with sponsors, transferring money, updating the blog, etc. It’s really not glam work at all – but I really get a lot of personal satisfaction from it. I also get to strategize and work with some amazing people (my awesome board of directors!!) who have similar values to me, create projects out of nothing, support others’ ideas and see the outputs for my inputs. Often when you see the least about us online, is when we are doing the most behind the scenes (like now!)
There are challenges for sure, though. A constant management challenge is staying on top of the workload, especially when it should come behind family and my paid gigs. The hardest, though, is dealing with conflicts and making hard decisions. Leadership isn’t easy, and even though I find the creative process and forward momentum exhilarating, the times when I have to put out fires or deal with persistent problems… well, it just drains me. Some days, you wonder why you do it. But whenever I get exhausted and disheartened, one of our directors, or my husband, or my parents empathize, and I pull up my socks and get back into it. After all, I don’t do this for the thanks – leadership can be a bit lonely like that too – I do it for making an impact. And honestly, to feel some kind of empowerment over an issue (extreme poverty) that could be overwhelming and dismissed, otherwise.
On a more positive and reflective note, it’s been more fun as of late. We are working on some new projects that I’m feeling good about, and I love that “embarking on a journey” feeling. The spring is also whooshing by, and as soon as I get my exam schedule from the college, I’ll most probably be planning another trip to Ethiopia in the late spring or summer. I’ll be sure to blog and take you along for the ride!!
Lastly, I just wanted to shout out to all of you who have donated over the last couple of years. THANK YOU. We’re making darn sure that your money is well spent and is having an impact on the lives of Ethiopian kids and families. I know many of you started following this blog and then made the leap to support Vulnerable Children too. If you are new here or don’t know much about our work – maybe now’s the time!