Hoping for Hope!

From the age of about ten I got hooked on helping, developing a passion for volunteering once I realised that little old me could actually make a worthwhile difference in this crazy world. I must thank the www.wwf.org.uk as they were the ones who put on a sponsored walk in my local park and this gave me the opportunity to take part in something which had a tangible result. Raising money and giving my time gave me a buzz back then and has done repeatedly over the years for the many community and charity projects I’ve been involved in.

Creating a community orchardCreating a community orchard
Creating a community orchard

So 34 years on from that WWF walk I’m currently working full-time fundraising for a Hospice charity but I have been looking for an interesting challenge for a little while now. I’ve jumped out of a plane for NSPCC and climbed the highest mountain in North Africa for Rainbow Trust, helped build our local Community Centre and done several years political volunteering standing for elections etc. amongst other things but it’s been a few years since I’ve felt excited about a new…big project.

Rainbow trek in Morocco (I'm in yellow)Rainbow trek in Morocco (I’m in yellow)
Rainbow trek in Morocco (I'm in yellow)

As I know I can’t actually fix the entire world (although I do sometimes lay awake at 3am trying to work this out) I would have to say the two things I currently focus on are animals and children. My previous job was fundraising for an animal sanctuary and I’m a dedicated vegan. I also have two rapidly growing children who are my world and I cannot bear to see children suffering anywhere on the planet.

Getting political ! Getting political !
Getting political !

So having been looking for something to help with for a little while two programmes touched me and gave me the direction I’d been looking for. First of all watching TV presenter Saira Khan in Adopting Abroad being handed a tiny baby left on the orphanage steps in Pakistan completely broke my heart. As a lifelong feminist, the fact that this was a baby girl really hit hard, one of the lucky ones not left to die alone soon after birth on a rubbish tip in a culture which values males far above females.

The second programme was Kolkata with Sue Perkins which highlighted the work of The Hope Foundation with street and slum children in this Indian city of 15 million people. I was sold. Hope needed volunteers and I had my cause.

So I’ve applied to spend 3 weeks in Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) volunteering plus fundraising in advance and trying to help raise the profile of this incredible little charity which I will tell you more about over the next few months. With working full-time and having a family I can only commit to the minimum volunteering stint of 3 weeks. So while I wait for the interview and reference process to be completed, I’d love to hear comments from you of the things which have made you jump up off the sofa and do something useful with your life and any tips and advice on travelling and staying in India also appreciated. Please post your comments below…

Sue with the street children The Hope Foundation helpsSue with the street children The Hope Foundation helps
Sue with the street children The Hope Foundation helps

Update (2021)

Be careful what you wish for!

I wasn’t able to go to India and look after the street children because a few months after writing this, we became Special Guardians to an 8 month old baby. Special Guardianship is a type of court order where a child that is connected to you already is placed in your care until they are 18. When I say connected to you – many Special Guardians are also known as Kinship Carers. They are related to the children or possibly close friends with the child’s birth parents. I am writing this update 4 years on and our beloved ‘adopted’ child is now 5 years old…

2 Replies to “Hoping for Hope!”

  1. With volunteering there, I would wonder whether you could do more good donating the money you would spend on flights etc to the charity, to fund a local person to do what you would do, I suspect that you would fund a lot more than three weeks.

  2. To respond to Jan (above), The Hope Foundation believes that the experience of witnessing and being part of the community in Kolkata, as volunteers are with HOPE, that their advocacy and awareness over a longer term than their volunteer experience is extremely valuable (and mutually beneficial) to both the individual and to those in need. The opportunity to have a hands-on experience directly supporting those in need with one’s time makes an incredible difference to the vulnerable people we support and to show that they can be loved by others. Best regards, Andrew

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