Touch One Life Today and Change The Future

Charity work can be daunting, especially if one tends to get emotionally involved with those you are trying to help. Unfortunately, being emotional is part of doing the job; you cannot give comfort or offer a kind word to someone without emotion being involved.

What often gets to me is the fact that there are SO MANY people in need and the facts and figures one is bombarded with on the internet only serves to emphasize the problem. The thing is, despite our efforts to make the world a better place, there will always be those in need. We may be able to bring down the global statistics, but somewhere, someone is going to be disregarded. I don’t mean to sound negative, it is just the reality of the situation. But that is why we should all take hands and work TOGETHER, those of us who can, should give a voice to those who have none.

DSC04422

That has been the whole reason behind my work – giving voice, standing up and fighting for those who cannot. I’ve committed myself to supporting more than 30 facilities (day care centers, schools, orphanages, places of safety, community centers, etc) in and around my hometown (Pretoria, South Africa), a venture I started a few years back. Among the 30+ facilities I support there are about 15 orphanages and places of safety, this amounts to approximately 2.000 children, which is not that many when using global statistics as you point of reference, however,  that doesn’t make them less important. We are, in fact, talking about 2.000 children; ones that we have the power to help. I remember how overwhelmed I was when I visited them the first time. It was as if I’ve been blind my whole life and suddenly I was confronted by the harsh reality – people still living without electricity and water, babies left abandoned in the fields, children wandering around on a school day dressed in rags…..I couldn’t believe my eyes and yet, this was happening and it was happening here, in MY country, MY town, basically in my neighbourhood.  And to think that it was only the tip of the iceberg. The poverty was bad, but what haunted me (and still do) are the individual stories told by the caregivers at these places.  Some so horrific and unbelievable, it made me wonder how one human being can do this to another. Don’t we value life at all anymore? Or did poverty force these people to make such terrible decisions?

I know none of these stories are unique; I know it happens every day in the world – children, tiny newborns, are abandoned by parents, toddlers (and even teens) are dumped on the orphanage doorstep, sometimes without reason, most without references or names – the parents just disappear. Many of these little ones are not so lucky to be “picked up” by the nice orphanage lady, some end up elsewhere to be used as labourers or sex workers when they come of age. Others are left in the open field or in trash cans; some are flushed down the toilet. Other children are left in the care of the state, because their parents are dead or dying of HIV/Aids or some other disease or are killed in confrontation with someone else, some parents are simply not able to take care of the children – they are drug addicts or alcoholics or financially unable to provide for their families…some children are removed from their parents by force, because of abuse. Whatever the reason, every time I visit one of these places, there are more children. Children that need to be fed, clothed, educated and, above all else, loved.  I’ve been pondering this issue….

It bothers me that, in this day and age, when everyone claims to know everything; we claim to be so ‘’enlightened’’ but still we keep on producing children and then, promptly, abandon them to their own devices. It would seem that our generation is made up mostly of a bunch of irresponsible, unemotional, downright cold-hearted, egomaniacs….and I’m sorry if I sound offensive, but I have to speak my mind about this issue. We love to have the fun, but we avoid the responsibility and then also manage to avoid guilt, by passing on our little ‘problem’ to someone else so that we can continue to “enjoy life”. I can understand that some parents have good reason to give a child up, but then you do it legally and make sure that he or she are sent to a loving home – there are organizations that can deal with this in a professional, ethical and confidential manner. You don’t have to wrap baby in a towel and drop him on the steps in front of an orphanage or police station…..seek help, it is available.

DSC04385

Despite my anger at the unfairness of it all, of bringing an innocent life into the world and then just throwing it away, I am not in a position to judge even those who need judgment. People do what they do, they make their choices and have their reasons. So despite my blowing off steam about this, I cannot change the way of the world and I cannot point fingers, but what I can do is to try to make a difference.  The fact is that these children are in desperate need of help, of love and care and if someone doesn’t come forward to do something to change their lives, they will most definitely make the same mistakes that their parents did and that, people, will not do us any good at all. Children ARE the future, if we build them up, show them the way, we will be able to HAVE a future in this world.

I have made my choice, I’ve chosen to spend my life supporting these people, no matter what. Now,  I don’t do much….I source donations, try to fulfil urgent needs, visit them and offer some comfort,  spread the word about their plight on social media….it’s something, but, I’m afraid, it is not a lot, definitely not enough. Sometimes I feel that what I do doesn’t begin to help anyone at all and yes, sometimes I consider stopping the work altogether….but I press on. Why? Well, let me explain…

I may not be doing enough, but at least I’m doing something and the little bit I do has never been thrown in my face, it has been received gratefully. I know many donors feel that their contribution is too small, too insignificant, that your tiny contribution doesn’t really make a difference…it does, believe me. Let me tell you a story: a few years back I visited a community center in Mabopane, about 30km north of Pretoria CBD. We were having a Christmas party on behalf of a project I’m still involved with today. Many of the children at the center received their allocated gifts (we got a list of their names beforehand and gifts were neatly packed, wrapped and labelled by generous donors), however the entire community (to take a wild guess, it must have been 700 people) arrived at the party, drawn by the music and the celebratory tent. Fortunately I’ve learned through experience that, when visiting a facility, one needs to be prepared for eventualities, so I filled my car with soft toys that I bought at a bargain shop in town. The children who didn’t get the pretty, bright gifts each received a soft toy….ONE SOFT TOY….they were overjoyed! They felt important, despite the fact that they didn’t  get the BIG GIFT with all the trimmings; they felt that someone, somewhere did indeed care for them.

DSC04320

This is something that I’ve seen many times, especially with the children….the innocent ones. They are happy with whatever they get, as long as they can see it is given with love. Sometimes they don’t even have to receive anything, they will be happy just for some attention.

I’ve learned another thing that day, watching these little ones run around with their new teddy bears, fluffy bunnies and stuffed ducks; it made an impression on them, one that may last a lifetime. Think of it this way, every time you touch someone’s life, you change that person’s path, the way he thinks about things.  Don’t ever consider your words to others to be unimportant ; that it would go unnoticed and will be forgotten soon. That would be a huge mistake, because everything you do and say to people is most definitely noticed and your actions and words have the power that can influence decisions made in future. So when you do something for or say something to one of these youngsters, you pass along wisdom that has the power to change a generation.  Another story I’ve heard, one that really stuck with me, is about a young man who is currently running two children’s centers. Orphaned at a young age, he grew up in a home for abandoned children. He told me that, when he was a child, a lady came to this orphanage and he remembered that he was SO impressed, because she told the children they can become anything they want, despite their circumstances. Eventually he found a way to finish school. He worked his way through university and eventually received  a degree in communication. Then he decided to take the necessary courses to fulfil his dream of helping other children grow up in a safe, secure environment where they are allowed to dream AND fulfil their dreams. Today that young man goes out of his way to share that specific message, which he received nearly 30 years ago from a complete stranger, to the children in his care.  I’m sure you have a memory of something someone said or did in your youth, something so spectacular that it stuck with you until today.

When I ask for donations to help the needy, I’m asking that you take a chance and be that person who change a life and a way of thinking forever. Remember, poverty has many faces and often being hungry and cold is only the beginning. The children that I see every day crave a different gift too….they crave love, attention, a kind word…someone to show them they are important enough and good enough to deserve being alive.

Therefore, don’t ever think that your meagre contribution will be rejected or criticized; whatever you decide to share will be accepted with joy and remembered forever. Touching a life today can change a future or even, THE future…you don’t know what that child can become, who he will be in a few years’ time….and YOU would have had something to do with the person he becomes. Let the children of the world be OUR children, not THEIR children; it is our world, our people, OUR RESPONSIBILITY….and our choice.

Galatians 6:9: “So let us not become tired of doing good; for if we do not give up, the time will come when we will reap the harvest.”…..let us not grow tired then, let us work the field, let us share the joy we’ve received so abundantly.

Get in touch, sponsor a child or facility, donate much-needed items, volunteer your time, whatever you do, GET INVOLVED, make a difference and say YES for CHANGE.

So, are you ready to change a life? Don’t postpone it, there may not be a tomorrow; start today – reach out, care, give, share the love….you have the power to make a difference.

#Dedicated to Annah, Onicca, Elizabeth, Andronicca, Norah, Emily, Dedre, Busisiwe, and all the gentlemen and ladies that takes care of the children so selflessly.  May God bless you.

If you are interested in contributing or becoming involved in my cause, please complete the contact form below and I’ll be in touch.

Advertisements

10 Blog Design Best Practices for Nonprofits

Via Non-Profit Tech for Good

Original article posted on August 23, 2015

“Your nonprofit could have a wide variety of excellent blog content, but if your blog’s design doesn’t make a positive first impression, then few will read it – much less share it with their followers on social networks.” [NPTechForGood]

Continue reading here.

Here are some ideas on how to make your nonprofit blog pop:

[Excerpt only. Read details and view examples in original article here.]

  1. Select a two-column, responsively designed template.
  2. Prominently featured a “Donate” button, e-newsletter opt-in, and social network icons.
  3. Feature and rotate promotional graphics.
  4. Use large font for headlines and body text.
  5. Insert large photos that encompass the width the blog post. Embed large call-to-action buttons within posts.
  6. Invest in well-designed graphics.
  7. Enable social sharing.
  8. Enable social comments.
  9. Ensure that your blog is hosted within your website.

[Please click here to read the full article.]

nonprofitorgs_1373722632_75

How to Pledge a Santa Shoebox and Share A Smile this Christmas

Via @santashoebox on Facebook

Image via Santa Shoebox Project on Facebook

The target = 100 000 boxes; this equals 100 000 smiles and shouts of joy from as many children in South Africa.

Come on people, YOU’VE DONE IT BEFORE….LET’S DO IT AGAIN!!

At the moment, according to the SSB website 48% of the boxes have been pledged. Month end is coming, so when you do your shopping, just buy an extra something to support this cause and ensure the other 52% of the children don’t go empty-handed. Pledge NOW. Click here.

HOW TO PLEDGE A SANTA SHOEBOX & SHARE SOME JOY THIS CHRISTMAS!!

  1. Visit the website at www.santashoebox.org.za
  2. Click on the “Click here to Start Pledging button”
  3. Register as a Supporter
  4. Remember to select a drop off point that you can get to on the drop off date (double check your date here: http://www.santashoebox.co.za/find-my-local-dropoff/)
  5. Select the name and age of a child you’d like to pledge a box for.

I’VE PLEDGED A BOX. WHAT DO I DO NOW?

All the information you need is on the SSB website and would be available to you as soon as you’ve pledged your child. But here are some tips anyway.

  1. Find a suitable shoebox and cover it (lid and box separate, please) with wrapping paper.
  2. You will receive your Santa Shoebox label with the child’s name and code via e-mail. Print it, cut it out and paste it on the box.
  3. Now you can fill the box with age-appropriate goodies for your selected child (see list of compulsory items below)
  4. Close the lid properly with the help of an elastic band or two.
  5. Keep the box safe until drop-off day in your area and then take it to the appointed venue.
  6. Your child will receive his/her box within a month at a celebration held by Santa Shoebox volunteers at his/her daycare/school/orphanage.

WHAT MUST BE IN THE BOX?

  • Soap and facecloth
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Educational supplies (pens, pencils, coloring books, etc)
  • Something sweet (toffees, gums, marshmallows – not chocolate)
  • Toys
  • Clothing
  • For a detailed brochure, click here.

For any information, please do not hesitate to contact your local SSB-coordinator.

You can click on the image below to visit Santa Shoebox’s ”Handy Downloads App’ on Facebook.

Click on the image to visit SSB’s ”Handy Downloads App” on Facebook.

Take Action – Prioritize Women And Children’s Health in South Africa

Via @SaveChildrenSA

“For the first time in history, we have the opportunity to see a world where every pregnancy is healthy and wanted, where every birth is safe, where every child can survive beyond their 5th birthday, and where all women, children and adolescents are empowered to thrive and realize their full potential.

Great progress has already been achieved. In the past 15 years, maternal mortality reduced by 47% and child mortality declined by 49%. However, we still have a lot of work to do.” [via SaveTheChildrenSA]

You can take action NOW:

Call on the President of South Africa to prioritize the health and wellbeing of women, children and young people

Want more information? Please read the original article here.

Support Save The Children South Africa. Click here.

 

Peace Day 2015 – September 21

What are you going to do on this ”Peace Day”?

Are you just doing the day, business as usual, complaining about the state of the world? Or are you, finally, going to man-up and take a stand against the troubles of this world?

You may think that you are only one person and surely, one person does not make a difference. It would literally be like a voice crying in the wilderness….is that what you think? Let me tell you a secret….if you leave your home or your office NOW and reach out to the first person you see, talk to them, listen to what they say…you don’t have to GIVE anything but a few minutes of your time, YOU WILL MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN THEIR LIVES.

Read the poem above….making a crying child laugh….making that beggar on the corner smile….a moment of your time, a small portion out of your busy day can mean the world to these people. You, who have everything you need, may not agree, because your expectations of peace and joy are different; a new car or the latest technological device may make your day, for these people your interest in them means more than anything.

Change begins with YOU, not with the governor or the president….with YOU!

Would you say YES FOR CHANGE today and MAKE A DIFFERENCE in someone’s life?

20 Must-Know Fundraising and Social Media Stats

Via @nonprofitorgs

[Excerpt only. Read full article here.]

“Your donors are currently in the process of deciding which organizations will be receiving their year-end donations. Thus, in time for the year-end fundraising season, below are 20 stats about fundraising and social media that every nonprofit needs to know.” [1]

  1. In 2014, 1.4 billion people worldwide donated money to nonprofit organizations.
  2. 12% of all giving happens in the last three days of the year.
  3. 64% of all donations are made by women.
  4. 72% of all charitable contributions are made by individuals; followed by foundations at 15%, bequests at 8%, and corporations 5%.
  5. Matures and Baby Boomers donate most often to places of worship while Gen X and Millennials donate most often to children and youth development.
  6. Gen X donates more frequently than other generations.
  7. 88% of dollars raised comes from 12% of an organization’s donors.
  8. 75% of Americans think they donate more than average.  In reality, 72% contribute at a rate below the national average.
  9. 84% of Canadians donate to charity with an average individual donation of $446 per year.
  10. 53% of Asia Pacific citizens donate to charity, with those in Thailand (71%) more likely to do so and those in Japan the least likely (16%).
  11. Volunteers give twice as often to charity as non-volunteers.
  12. Text donors are mostly likely to be 49 to 59 years old, female, married and a college graduate.
  13. Email results in one-third of online fundraising revenue.
  14. For every 1,000 website visitors, a nonprofit raises $612.
  15. 17% of crowdfunding donations are made on mobile devices.
  16. Nearly 1/3 of all online donations are now a result of peer-to-peer fundraising.
  17. Pinterest and Instagram are now the fastest growing social networks.
  18. For every 1,000 email subscribers, nonprofits have 285 Facebook Fans, 112 Twitter Followers, and 13 Mobile Subscribers.
  19. 65% of all social media activity occurs on a smartphone.
  20. 51% of people who visit your website do so on a mobile device.

[Read full article here.]

Source:

[1] 20 Must-Know Fundraising and Social Media Stats

Time to Say Thank You

It is only with the help of the public that I can reach out to the various facilities I support and supply them with much needed items, be it food, clothing, toys, furniture, whatever. Over the past few months I’ve received many donations from friends, acquaintances and total strangers; it is time to thank them all for their generosity, without them my job would be futile.

Today my heartfelt gratitude goes out to:

  • Marinda Deysel from El Pelo Studio in Magalieskruin – for the loyal support I’ve received over the years from her and her staff. This time Marinda donated clothes, clothing hangers and puzzles.

    Donation from Marinda Deysel (El Pelo Studios)

    Donation from Marinda Deysel (El Pelo Studios)

  • Annette Opperman and her daughter kindly dropped off empty shoeboxes at my home for use by The Santa Shoebox Project. In addition to this Annette will be hosting a celebration for the SSB during November at one of the daycare centres. As if that is not enough, the two busy ladies have been helping out at Rock of Hope Place of Safety in Montana Park; assisting Mientjie Prozesky, the housemother, in caring for her many babies.
  • Marline Jonker donated two bags filled with lovely toys which, I’m sure, many little ones in need of something to love will welcome.

    Toys donated by Marline Jonker.

    Toys donated by Marline Jonker.

  • I would also like to add a thank you for furniture donated to Ditebogo Daycare. The person responsible was Annette Jacobs who allocated redundant office furniture from the SA Reserve Bank to this daycare in Hammanskraal.
    Onicca Hlabela and her husband pictured in Ditebogo Daycare's newly furnished office.

    Onicca Hlabela and her husband pictured in Ditebogo Daycare’s newly furnished office.

    Office furniture at Ditebogo, donated by SARB via Annette Jacobs.

    Office furniture at Ditebogo, donated by SARB via Annette Jacobs.

  • Last, but definitely not the least, Marinda once again saw to it that I received a huge donation from one of her clients, Karin. Thank you so much for the curtains and linen. One of the orphanages will definitely be able to put it to good use.

    Curtains and linen from Karin via Marinda Deysel.

    Curtains and linen from Karin via Marinda Deysel.

To all of you who have supported my organization in the past, thank you. Every item I receive makes the life of someone in need a little better.

There will always be needs and, if you can help at all by donating items, please do not hesitate to contact me immediately. You can inbox me on Facebook or message me on Twitter or send and email to ilzehallidayfoundation.sharon@gmail.com.

Below a list of items needed at the moment:

  • Food (tinned vegetables, meat, fruit and pasta, dry food: pasta, rice, maize, powdered milk, milk formula and baby food)
  • Clothing and shoes
  • Educational supplies
  • Toiletries (soap, shampoo, baby products)

Two projects that you can also support are:

Your kindness and generosity are, as always, much appreciated.

REMEMBER: You CAN  make a difference.