Today is the first ever International Charity Day.
A day set aside to recognise the role charity plays in addressing and alleviating humanitarian crises and human suffering. The 5th September was chosen by the United Nations (UN) at it is the anniversary of Mother Teresa’s death, sixteen years ago.
The day allows for an opportunity to reflect on the very essence of charity, which through volunteering, professionalism and philanthropy provides an essential relief service to the less fortunate in society and the world in general.
The UN focuses on the knock-on effect from charities who are involved in addressing humanitarian crises through health-care, education, housing and child protection.
There are many thousands of organisations battling away with their own charitable agendas. As a founder trustee of our own charity New Life Mexico (NLM), I am delighted the 5th September is a chance to pause and reflect on the work of all international charities.
In our case NLM, like so many others, continues with the juggling act of trying to be as effective as possible on the ground while keeping within the bounds of our limited time, resources and hard-won donations. With my company Nomadic Thoughts providing NLM’s UK office and administrative services – as well as being actively involved in the running of, and administration of, the charity as a whole – I am delighted that our remit squarely falls within the UN focus on assisting the marginalised and underprivileged members of humanity.
Set up ten years ago – when my sister Philippa, initially working as an orphanage volunteer in Mexico, decided to get involved in the rehabilitation of local street children – NLM supports vulnerable children and young people in Mexico through social, health and education programmes.
Having initially focused almost exclusively on assisting local street children in their rehabilitation through pastoral care, health and education, our programmes now concentrate on ‘preventative’ work, as opposed to exclusively working on ‘reactive’ treatment.
Working within the local community our programmes include building, managing and facilitating 21 different fresh water houses. Our community kids’ clubs have successfully offered sports and performing arts programmes to disenfranchised children living in otherwise very disengaged local colonias.
We are particularly pleased to have combined our local knowledge with the UK travel industry’s support. For example thanks to Just-A-Drop, LATA, the Institute of Travel & Tourism, the Mexican Tourist Office and British Mexico Society we have been able to successfully build, manage and facilitate a number of local water-house projects as well as additional vocational programmes.
Our vocational training programmes aim to assist the more vulnerable members of society in mastering new skills that we hope will offer them not only a sense of well being, but also a future source of income.
It sounds simple and easy – but it is not. Running on tight budgets we continue to struggle with the practicalities of organising operations in often hostile environments with complicated local politics and often worrying safety concerns.
Is it worth it? You bet. The children’s reaction to our programmes continues to inspire us to provide as effective a charitable service as possible.
To quote Philippa, “Their resilience is an inspiration. Although there are many laughs, there are moments of deep anguish and sadness, as well as stories that keep me awake at night.”
So on this International Charity Day I am posting this blog in recognition of New Life Mexico’s work – if you would like any further information please do not hesitate to contact me – or see our website.
As supporters of NLM one of our proudest moments was when Philippa was chosen to run with the Olympic Torch through Glastonbury in May last year.