All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing – Edmund Burke
This September I’ll be travelling to Kampala in Uganda with an incredible group of HR professionals, and the charity Retrak and #ConnectingHRAfrica, to help and support street children and to train local staff. You can find out more about what we’re planning to do here: https://www.retrak.org/work-in-hr-come-with-us-to-uganda/
What is #ConnectingHRAfrica ? We are the extension of #ConnectingHRManchester, which is a regular meeting of HR professionals around the Manchester area. This is a get together to talk about all things HR and L&D, a project founded by Ian Pettigrew who has gone on to organise #ConnectingHRAfrica (Ian is a trustee of Retrak). Here is a link to Ian’s blog on why he is so passionate about his work with Retrak: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/please-help-us-make-positive-impact-lives-street-hr-africa-pettigrew?trk=prof-post
Why have I volunteered? A ginger going to Africa, why would you do that?!
Well, there are a number of reasons. Firstly, 2015 was not a good year for me personally, perhaps some of you may have noticed that I’ve returned to my maiden name on LinkedIn and Twitter (enough said), and I am desperate for 2016 to be a much more positive year for me. I want it to be a year of exciting experiences and happy memories.
When I heard about this opportunity through a post on LinkedIn, it was incredibly serendipitous timing as I was just then starting to feel in a positive enough state of mind that I was looking for volunteering opportunities. Coming off the back of a few months of wallowing, I had started to gain some perspective and had come to the conclusion that it was time to stop feeling sorry for myself, and to do something for the benefit of others. I had already started researching different charitable opportunities when I saw this title on LinkedIn, “Work in HR? Come With Us to Uganda” – YAAAS. Not only a chance to volunteer but also to be able to utilise the skills I’ve gained from working in L&D and HR these last 3 years.
I feel very privileged to be in the position to be able to offer support and help to homeless children and local workers. Retrak is a fantastic charity, and the work they do is truly inspiring. Retrak believe in a world where no child is forced to live on the street. Their mission is to transform highly vulnerable children’s lives, preserve families, and empower communities. We put children at the heart of everything we do and we will defend and promote their rights. Retrak operates in Uganda, Ethiopia, Malawi, Kenya, and Tanzania. Retrak has also trained partner organisations in Mozambique, DRC and Zimbabwe. Retrak is also involved in ground-breaking research working with organisations across the globe from Mexico to Cambodia. The last Retrak annual report shows that 96 children were rescued from trafficking, 4,265 street and vulnerable children were provided with help in outreach, placement, and follow up, and 605 children were reunited with families.
Last year I travelled to Morocco and visited the Sahara Desert, and en route to the desert there was a child begging by the side of the road – but not for money, for water. It is hard to imagine such levels of desperation, of needing to beg for water, and it was utterly heartbreaking to see. That experience has stayed with me, and at that point I knew I wanted to volunteer in some way to help children who are struggling so severely.
I know this trip to Kampala is going to be an incredibly emotional and potentially heart-wrenching experience. I’ll be visiting the slums, working with children who have suffered terrible abuses, neglect, drug addiction and much more. I’ll be working in a safe home for girls, organising a huge football match, and a community day for HIV testing, medical and dental help. I’ll also be running around like a lunatic with the kids, playing with them and entertaining them as best I can. I really hope that the time I spend with these children, and the money I raise for Retrak, can positively and sustainably influence their lives.
So how can you sponsor me? I’ve got a JustGiving page, and I would be incredibly grateful for any support you can offer (you, or a friend, or even your work!):