Earlier this week I wrote a gratitude post to share on my personal blog and I was really struck by a tweet someone sent me in response. It said “what an inspirational post, I need to do more good in the world” and it really got me thinking. We all need to do more good in the world. You only have to watch the news to realize there is a lot that needs doing but I think I might be preaching to the converted here as the crux of World Moms Network has always been to pull together mothers from around the world to share their experiences of parenthood and fighting for social good and human rights.
You never know though, there could be a mother reading this who has a real passion for the poor, is gifted at befriending or wants to ensure equality for all people but hasn’t yet had the opportunity or confidence to step out and do something practical. So this post is for you, to challenge you and to encourage you. Becoming a volunteer might not be the easiest thing you have ever done but I am totally sure it will be one of the most worthwhile.
This last week I have worked on a voluntary basis six days out of seven for four different charities. I’ve worked in reception and bookings for a Christian conference centre, sorted food at a warehouse and packed bags of supplies at the local Food Bank, coached a young boy who is on the cusp of exclusion from school and cooked breakfast at the homeless shelter. How many of these things are related to my day job or the work I trained to do? Very few but here I am doing them anyway.
It’s not usual for me to do quite so much voluntary work in one week and I’m certainly not advocating that you start out doing so much, it is just the way it worked out this week and they all fitted around my children being at school or my husband being home with them. That is one of the big benefits of volunteering, it is so flexible. I don’t have to give a full day, it was enough to do two hours at the night shelter this morning, that meant twenty men and women had a hot breakfast before they went back out into the freezing cold today.
A sense of satisfaction
“But why?” You might ask. “You have three school-aged children, paid writing work to complete, two blogs to manage, church responsibilities to take care of, friends to see and a house to upkeep Michelle, why do you need more?” The simple answer would be that I don’t, there is lots in my life but I love to be busy and I have a very strong work ethic. It is totally the right thing (for my family) for me to be available for the kids out of school but forgive me, it doesn’t always stretch or fulfill me in the way that paid out-of-the-home work used to so this was the initial reason I got into volunteering.
I’m giving back
Also since becoming a Christian fifteen years ago I have a heightened awareness of just how blessed I am to live in the UK and to have a comfortable life with great family and friends. I truly believe that all people are equal and therefore it goes without saying that I just can’t stand the inequality we see in the world.
I desperately want to change things and be able to feed all those starving across the world but actually I don’t have the skills to do that so I have to make sure I am taking my small footsteps and joining together with other generous and compassionate people to make ripples that can longer term become waves of change.
It challenges me
Not just change elsewhere in the county or world though, there has been change in me too, both in terms of my skills and also my mind-set. I’m ashamed to say that before I started volunteering with the Food Bank a few years back I had no idea just how difficult life is for some people. It is easy to assume that those living off our British benefits system want to be doing so and might even be milking the situation. Over the last couple of years I have learnt that I cannot judge anyone, we all have different journeys and you are only qualified to comment when you have been there.
If you, like me are a mother taking time out of your career right now to be more family orientated then volunteering is a wonderful way to continue with your personal development. Most industries now want to see evidence at interview that you have been keeping up to date and developing your skills. Through my volunteering at the food bank and night shelter I have increased my compassion, ability to talk to anyone and my willingness to do the grotty jobs. Then my work at the conference centre has helped with my patience and working with characters who may not share the same views as me and my volunteering as the coach coaching a vulnerable child has helped with my own parenting in regards to having fun together, really listening and setting boundaries.
I’m sure you can tell I love my voluntary work and there is so much out there that you can do. My heart is for the poor and that is the reason I undertake most of my voluntary roles but you might be passionate about animals, wanting to help those you are bereaved or on fire for protecting the environment. I just urge you today to take ten minutes on your computer and see what local volunteering opportunities there are that might suit you.
Go on, I think You’ll enjoy it! Mich x
Do you volunteer?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Michelle Pannell who can normally be found writing at Mummy from the Heart and Progress Not Perfection.
62,000 people. That is the estimated number of Haitians who are still displaced from the 7.0 earthquake that shook Haiti in January 2010; a heartbreaking disaster that claimed over 200,000 lives and displaced as many as 3 million people.
Elouse’s four cousins
….this is only 1% of the 900 people who lost their lives in Haiti to Hurricane Matthew in October 2016.
900 lives…fathers, mothers, teachers, grandmas, little brothers, babies…lost in the waters of a sea that came on land and washed it out. A land crushed under debris created by a 145mph wind that knocked down concrete walls and tore down palm trees as if they were saplings just transplanted from a kindergarten classroom the day before.
To say that we feel for our sisters and brothers in Haiti is an understatement. My heart is heavy and it wants to scream because although it believes that we, together, will make things better, it is hard to see the road ahead when there is such a harsh wind blowing in one’s face.
To look at the state of Haiti now, with the lack of food and access, and the abundance of poverty, one may not remember how powerful a nation Haiti actually is.
In the 18th century, Toussaint-Louverture, Henri Christophe and Dessalines revolted in an effective guerilla war against the French colony. All three had been enslaved: they successfully ended slavery and regained freedom for the nation. They did this in 1791 against the French, in 1801 against the Spanish conquest, and in 1802 against an invasion ordered by Napoleon Bonaparte. They renamed Saint-Dominique after its original Arawak name, Haiti, which became the second independent nation in the Americas.
Such history should not go unnoticed because it is a significant example of the perseverance, love, and determination that courses through the veins of Haitians.
If I could say anything to my sisters and brothers in Haiti right now, if I could speak at all, I would say this:
“In the midst of the chaos; the heartbreak; the loss of life; the search for lives; the feeling that rebuilding will simply take too much energy…again; the pain; the tears that will run dry; the anguish, and all the feelings that weigh down your soul and may make you doubt your abilities, please remember who you are, what you have accomplished, and what you are capable of doing. You do not stand alone, because we stand with you. You do not sit alone, you do not swim alone, you do not cry alone, you do not hug your loved ones alone, you do not cry alone.
You do not cry alone, and you will not rebuild alone.
We are with you.
We are with you and we will laugh together again and you will see that we can get out of this. Please believe with me. I know it’s hard right now, and I do not pretend to understand what you’re going through, but please believe with me”.
To anyone who would like to assist, you may consider contacting any and all of these organizations:
Food For The Poor
Save the Children
Please remember that there is also a cholera outbreak because of lack of clean water, and it is also claiming lives. Help is needed most urgently! Please lets do what we can.
My heart goes out to everyone affected by this hurricane, not only in Haiti but in neighboring countries including the southern US states. Sending you all love and happiness in the hopes that you keep believing and looking forward to another sunrise.
Have you ever been directly affected by a devastating storm? What would you say to those who are trying to rebuild their lives?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Sophia at ThinkSayBe. Photo credit: Ricardo’s Photography. This picture has a creative commons attribution license.
Typically, after Thanksgiving in the United States, the following Friday and Monday, known as Black Friday and Cyber Monday, kick off the holiday shopping season. Black Friday, in the stores and Cyber Monday, online. However, Giving Tuesday follows and is what now kicks off the holiday “Giving Season.” This movement has been around for several years already.
With so much poverty around the world, the fact that a movement, based entirely on the giving of time and money, is gaining momentum gives me great hope. Did you know that you do not just have to give money on Giving Tuesday? You can, instead, donate your time. This means many more of us can get involved.
How great is a movement that the whole world can participate in as a collective unit with one goal in mind: to give?
So take today to think about the something you want to change most in the world. And give. Give of your money. Give of your time. Give only what you can. From around the world to your local community, find out how you can participate today, Tuesday, December 1st.
As each year of Giving Tuesday goes by, more and more organizations are getting involved, which plays at my heart strings. For example, here, in Canada this is the first year that Waterloo Region in Canada will be launching Giving Tuesday in an official manner. The community is rallying around local groups and causes in a way that I would never have imagined!
Let’s kick off the giving season and make this the most memorable Giving Tuesday the world has known to date.
A Note From our Founder:
Today, World Moms Blog asks our readers to consider volunteering, donating and/or advocating for these 4 organizations that have been created by our contributors or employ them. Click on over to see why they are worthy of your #GivingTuesday love!
- Mom2Mom Africa helps to educate and provide a better life for children in Tanzania. What started as a penpal project of a mom in Canada, turned into an education sponsorship program, a school being built, class trips provided and much more!
- Cleanbirth.org, which helps to provide a safer birth experience for mothers in Laos through clean birth kits and nurse midwife training. Started by an American mom who pledged to single-handedly take on poor maternal health statistics.
- The Advocates for Human Rights is the workplace of our resident contributor and human rights lawyer. The organization provides opportunities to volunteer, donate and/or advocate for their life saving and life changing work to help people worldwide.
- Edesia makes Plumpy’Nut which helps provide nutrition for children who need it most in the developing world. And did you know that our Managing Editor works there in digital media?
Tell us what you’re doing for Giving Tuesday…
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by contributor, Alison Fraser, in Canada.
We read about it as young children in folklore and fairy-tales. If we grew up in religious homes, we were taught about various aspects of it, without a full understanding of what it all meant. While I have a different outlook at this stage in my life, I try to shield my children from the pain of it. We can all agree that death (or the idea of dying) is scary.
In January 2010 I became a Peer Infant Loss Support Worker; two months later I was pregnant with my first Rainbow baby. Last year I applied to volunteer at a palliative care facility. Having dealt with loss, being younger than most of the volunteers, and since I was going through the process of grieving my infant son who passed away in 2009, the coordinator was sure that I was just what the program needed. Interestingly, I became pregnant soon after. Call me superstitious, however, at this point, I came to one conclusion – I’d had enough with death – I needed a break. I quickly resigned.
While my resignation was totally unreasonable and my actions irrational, I never looked back until I gave birth to a healthy baby girl. After the death of my father in 1993 I began thinking about death; but it wasn’t until the death of my infant son that I began searching, speaking and learning about the practices, rituals and beliefs surrounding life and death. For instance, before my son’s death, I knew nothing about Islamic burial practices. My husband, who had been to a couple of funerals also had no idea what to do. Our lack of knowledge, coupled with grief made it extremely difficult to process the practice of what was being done and why.
It was not until after the death and burial, that I truly began to understand the Islamic view on death and dying. Muslims believe that human existence continues after death in the after-life, and that we are judged on our actions from this life. We are taught to prepare for the after-life by doing good deeds in this life. Upon death, the corpse is washed by family members, shrouded in a white cloth, buried on its right side, with the head facing Mecca.
After our experience I began to ask questions about death and dying. While I am by no means an authority on these practices, I have connected with many women who have shared their experiences. In our dialogue, I have learned about Tibetan Buddhist rites of passage and the Tibetan Book of the Dead, various Christian ideas like Catholicism’s idea of purgatory and resurrection. I also learned about practices, like Balinese Hinduism death towers and the Jewish ritual of Shiva.
Death is frightening. Words like eternal life and afterlife can be comforting and scary simultaneously, especially for those of us who connect these words with thoughts of retribution and judgement. A few years ago, a Social Worker noted: “…parents aren’t supposed to bury their children.” I’ve heard this before, but I don’t really believe or subscribe to this thought. I learned that life is a journey, and we are all here for different reasons. Sometimes our road takes us farther than others.
So has my experience with burying a loved one made it easier for me to swallow the concept of my mortality? Has my cross-cultural knowledge made it easier to speak about it? Not really. Without a doubt, death is central to our existence. I am not blind to the reality of it, especially when it seems imminent (watching a friend or family living with serious diseases), but I don’t want to deal with it unless I have to.
What practices/beliefs about death and after-life do you hold?
This is an original post written for World Moms Blog by Salma. You can find Salma blogging at Party of Five in Calgary.
Photo credit to the author.
I have always joked that one day both my kids will whine in unison, “Enough with the developing world, can’t we just go to Disney?” I am pretty sure that will happen. But in the meantime, by traveling together I hope to show them that there are people in need and that we have the power to give a helping hand.
Volunteering has always been a part of my life. From a young age, I dished out food at local soup kitchens and baked and collected for drives and sales. I saw and smelled people living in my own community who didn’t have enough to eat or a place to take a shower. It wasn’t always pretty but, as a kid, I felt good knowing that I could help.
My first international volunteer experience was magical: nine months on the Thai-Lao border, as a newlywed, teaching community college students. What a life changer. It was the first of many trips that left me feeling that I got the better end of the bargain: a rich, meaningful experience, an opportunity to learn about a new place, people, and most of all, myself.
This is one of things that I want to share with my kids about volunteering: you give but you get even more. Sure you might find yourself in uncomfortable physical circumstances, but you get to experience a new place in a unique way and make human connections that will change you forever.
I am also ingraining in them the need to be respectful of those you are assisting.
In my work with CleanBirth.org, I face the need to balance my Northern Hemisphere take-over instinct with the knowledge that lasting change must be embraced by local people. We are indeed privileged with access to education and wealth, but we don’t have all the answers. We must keep our eyes and ears open, to really hear what people are saying and then work together to bring about positive change.
Have you volunteered with your kids? Did you feel like your family received just as much as you gave?
This is an original post by World Moms Blog contributor, Kristyn Zalota, in Guatemala.
Photo credits to the author.