It’s Blog Action Day today, and a good opportunity to talk about something I’d wanted to mention anyway. When I worked at the University, I met a lady called Sylvia Gardiner. She’d visited Ethiopia when her son was working there, was hugely moved by the poverty she found there, and instead of doing nothing about it, or sending a few parcels, she got down to it and founded a charity called LUCIA to support women and girls in the country.
Of course, this is about the power of Sylvia as much as the power of ‘we’, but she’s so good at encouraging people to take part and support the charity in whatever way they can. While I worked at the library, I was proud to provide (free) minuting services for their meetings for a year, and when I started running in races it seemed a foregone conclusion as to which charity I would choose to support.
I’ve raised over £1000 for LUCIA in the time I’ve been running for them – mainly the Birmingham Half Marathon (or Great Birmingham Run as it’s called now). I benefit them and they benefit me – how’s that for the Power of We? Because I might be making money to support people, but there’s nothing like having those people to think of if I’m making a fuss or whining a bit when I’m running 13.1 miles. Not with a herd of goats that are my only livelihood, not with a tottering pile of stuff to sell, not with water I’ve dragged from a well, not trying to work out how to feed my family or get to school, but well-fed, warm and comfortable, with expensive running kit and a good lifestyle.
And the power of we works so well with a small charity. I’m not worried about how much of the money I raise goes to admin costs or buys something different from what I thought. If I choose, I can ask the LUCIA committee what my money has actually gone towards, and they can tell me, “You put a roof over the head of 30 schoolgirls for 6 months”, or whatever their current project is. How wonderful is that! And everything is good, grass-roots stuff: a goat to start a herd, help setting up a credit union, helping people to help themselves.
When you watch these big race events on the telly and you see all the ‘fun runners’ (horrible phrase!) streaming past, that’s the Power of We, too. Imagine how much money all those people are raising for their chosen charity.
My chosen charity is LUCIA. I doubt I’ll ever go to Ethiopia. But I can help a few fortunate people support a few people out of poverty, and that feels pretty powerful to me.
The Power of We is this year’s theme for Blog Action Day. I found out about Blog Action Day from Coral Musgrave – thanks, Coral! If you would like to sponsor me as I run my fifth Birmingham Half Marathon, please click on the link to my Justgiving page or this delightful pic of me running for LUCIA a couple of years ago. Thank you!