Contrary to popular belief, I have not been run into the ground by an accumulation of bad habits, I have actually been silenced in my blogging recently by my complete and perfect obsession with my new job at GET IT DONE. My apologies for having apparently disappeared off the face of the cyber earth, I promise not to desert you again, as I have rather missed these sharings and out-pourings of passion and interest.
Please allow me to introduce to you my new baby; GET IT DONE. GET IT DONE is an online platform set up by a friend of mine here in Amsterdam. It is an attempt to change the way in which we view and donate to charitable organisations.
Everyone knows and understands how frustrating it is to be guilt-tripped into giving money by the can-shakers who force depressing facts and figures in our faces on a daily basis of how many children worldwide do not have access to fresh water/school/medical supplies etc, how many villages in the rural developing world live under the poverty threshold and fight for recognition of the simplest of human rights and how many people globally can still literally call their life a quest for survival.
GET IT DONE wants to change that depressing and negative image into a fresh, young and positive one. We want to put an end to that feeling of ‘us’ and ‘them’, to the ‘poor South’ versus the ‘rich West’. We understand that everyone on this planet just wants the same things; to be able to lead a healthy and happy life. However, we also understand that circumstances sometimes prevent people from being able to achieve that dream.
Enter GET IT DONE. We are a community. We have set up a website which features projects all over the world. Small-scale projects with a budget of less than 10,000 EUROS. The idea is that through social media, stories can be told where personal connections exist and hence passion runs true. You will be able to support a small scale project and see the results for yourself. All the projects will be completed within a year and you will be kept up to date of developments personally through Facebook and your E-mail. The idea is that we can all mobilise our friends, family and colleagues into supporting a project and thus not only get the good karma that comes with thinking of others but also a sense of satisfaction that you GOT IT DONE.
I shall give you an example; my personal story. Since I stopped working as a barrister on the child-soldier case at the International Criminal Court, I have been involved with various charities dealing with young people who have come into conflict with the law in Africa. This started with War Child, where many projects were being set up to help the young people who had been involved with the brutal civil wars in Congo, Uganda and Sudan. It was a great opportunity but I felt like a tiny little speck of dust trying to get noticed in a land-fill site of rubbish. As most of you know, I am not very good at not being noticed; a small fish in a big pond. Time to look for a smaller pond, I thought. I then moved to another charity called Young in Prison, where I started to co-ordinate a project in Malawi for young men and boys who were incarcerated in deplorable conditions in Lilongwe and the surrounding area.
With a colleague, I co-ordinated a programme in 2 prisons in Malawi which centered around the idea that creativity was the key to liberation. Now, I do believe that this is essentially true, That disadvantaged children and youth can gain immensely from the opportunity to express themselves freely and creatively. However, I again felt like I wanted a tangible result. I wanted to be able to point to something that I had achieved and say to myself, this is what I have been working on, this is what I have helped to produce. I spoke at length with my contact in Malawi, Gayighayi Mfune Mathews, who even came over to Amsterdam for a conference where we discussed what developments we could make to the programme. At the crux of every conversation, is the big question of sustainability. I did not, and neither did Young in Prison, want to support a project which was simply a money-giving project. We talked and talked…
The old parable states,
“ Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day, teach that man how to fish and he will eat for life”
Ha ha! Lightbulb moment! Malawi is a strange country for the reason that despite its land-locked geography, the inland waters are teaming with fresh water fish! Opportunity knocks! Most, if not all the boys incarcerated in the prisons there have no skills whatsoever. They are locked up and punished for several years for the minor crimes of theft and burglary; survival crimes. This is not a country where you see gang criminality, violent attacks and sophisticated offences. No. This is a country where a 14 year old orphan on the streets, steals a bicycle left outside a street vendors stall and pinches it out of sheer frustration. The proceeds of the sale of that stolen bicycle will probably keep him alive another week or two.
As an old colonial country, Malawi does have the remnants of a very established legal procedure, they purport to have the rule of law. In reality, there are less than a handful of qualified lawyers trying to deal with the over-flow and back log of criminal cases. Papers get lost, identities get confused, boys get locked up for more than 6 months before even seeing the inside of a court room let alone being tried/convicted or sentenced for an allegation of crime. In the interim, they are sat festering in disgustingly dirty cells with no running water, no electricity and no education. Health issues are problematic and many prisoners suffer with preventable diseases.
So, I have come up with a plan. My contact in Malawi has found a local guy who is a fisherman and who has been weaving his own fishing nets for years. He is willing to train the prisoners whilst they are in prison how to weave their own fishing nets and then how to fish responsibly and sustainably in the local waters. BOOM!
Not only do the boys acquire a useful and new skill which they can use upon their release as an employment option but further they learn how to feed themselves. We have made all the calculations, how much it will cost to pay the fisherman to travel away from his family for a month to give daily lessons to the incarcerated boys for a 4 week session. How much it will cost for all the materials. How much it will cost for the overall direction of the project including food and accommodation for the fisherman as one of the prisons we are operating in is in a rural district away from the capital city. The total price for the project is 5,700 EUROS.
The project has been born, it is called GET FISHNET MAKING DONE!! You can read more about it on the website at http://www.getitdone.org/projects/posted/type/view/id/144
Or alternatively you can find it through Facebook- Get FISHNET MAKING Done. Please find the page and like it. This way you will be able to keep up to date with the latest developments. There is a direct link to be able to securely donate both through the website and through Facebook. 100% of all money donated goes to the project. Not a penny pays for the overheads. We are a team of volunteers all striving to make a difference.
We are currently just past a quarter of the way with our fund-raising; 25.3% of the money has already been donated. I am so chuffed. I have some other things up my sleeve to raise some funds including a karaoke conquest and competition at my house where people will have to pay to stop me from singing!! I think it might just work!!
I’ve also had the great news that KLM may well help sponsor the cost of travel requirements, so there really is a lot to feel positive about.
If you feel like this is a project you would like to get involved with then please spread the word, donate, share the story, tell my tale, whatever is necessary to get that pot filled and the programme under way. If you have more of an affiliation with another project featured on our site – there is everything from medical projects to arts and crafts projects to fresh water projects.
I hope you now understand why I have been so quiet these past few months; I am managing approx. 14 projects globally just now and of course metaphorically breast-feeding this one – my very own project in Malawi. Thanks for reading and let’s GET IT DONE!