Thursday 23 August 2012

Come journey with me - Ethiopia Part 1

Who are ONE?

Many of you will have read that I am off to Ethiopia in just over a month and as I have invited you to join me on this journey I feel it is important for you to know and trust who I am travelling with.

The ONE Campaign or are a wonderful campaigning organisation who passionately care about our worlds people - all people - because after all we are one people. But the issue is that only a small percentage of us get heard and are able to fight the big forces to receive what we need to live the life we all deserve. This is where ONE comes in, they campaign at a grassroots level and pressure governments, world leaders and large commercial organisations to stand up to their responsibilities and to make a difference for the worlds poorest people, predominantly with a focus on Africa. One people = - get it?

I have to be honest and say I had never heard of ONE before they reached out to me earlier this year, I got them mixed up with a water company with commercial interests, but after chatting to them and doing some research I came back happy that I can work with ONE, I can trust them and fully endorse the work they are doing and that's really important to me. If I am investing my efforts and heart, it has to be with an organisation that really are moving in the right direction.

I know that when I first heard of ONE I assumed they were a charity, all organisations doing good work are charities aren't they?  Well no.  ONE is an NGO or non governmental organisation and basically this means that ONE operate independently of any Government and as they are not a charity they do not ask for donations from joe average, like you and me. The funding comes almost entirely from a handful of philanthropists on the ONE board of directors (ONE's largest funder is the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation). The aim is not to fund raise but to raise awareness and pressure political leaders to fight extreme poverty through smart and effective policies and programs. ONE work with many of the big humanitarian aid agencies and charities and are proud to partner with them.  If you support one particular charity for example Save the Children and they are the one you always stand by, that does not mean you cannot support ONE too.  Chances are they work side by side with ONE and are supporting them as well. Putting your name to a petition which helps to show strength of opinion and vocalises that we are not happy about the inequality in our world is a powerful thing. As is taking the time to email or write to your MP.

Who am I?

So now you know who ONE are but what about me?  If you are a regular reader you probably have a feel for me or have even met me before.  I am pretty open on my blog so I think it is fairly easy to get a picture of who I am and what I'm about but I expect some of you joining me here are new readers, so I won't go assuming anything.

Perhaps I'll reverse this and tell you what I'm not. I'm not someone who has done anything like this before, in fact up until a couple of years ago it never even occurred to me to be an activist and to get involved.  I'm even ashamed to say that as a young teenager I seriously could not understand why anyone would try to save the world's poorest, I just thought the problem was too big so why bother.  I am pleased to say I have seen the light and yes I do mean that in a biblical way. Ten years ago I became a Christian and my life has radically changed and as such it is my call and my privilege to speak up for those who cannot. My blog was born out of a desire to share my faith but to demonstrate that not all Christians meet the stereotype and we do not always lecture or quote scripture.  We are perfectly imperfect normal people too!

I'm also not a journalist, nor author, nor media guru.  I really am just a very average working mum of three from the home counties who started to write a blog that has done rather well and now I find myself with a life-changing opportunity. That does not make me a blogging star or hero as has been hinted at, it makes me someone with a big weight on her shoulders and one she is ready to support fully.

Why Ethiopia?

Just take a look at this YouTube video (yes it is quite long at 10 minutes but worth it) and see how Ethiopia has changed in the last couple of decades.  In 1984/5 I was 11/12 years old and I vividly remember the famine in Ethiopia, as part of my trip I will visit the Tigray region and see something completely different to those video clips I recall seeing on TV all those years back.

How do I feel about this journey?

I wrote a post a couple of weeks ago which went into some of the emotions I am feeling at the moment.  If I swore on my blog I would probably tell you that I am s***ing myself, but in a good way. I expect this journey to be amazing and exciting and on one hand I feel terrible telling you this as I know that I am going to be exposed to some people who are on the edge of survival and I may see sights I never want to see again so how can I say that is exciting? Would it be more appropriate to be forlorn and to keep a straight face. No I don't think so, the people we will visit wish to see hope and to meet new friends.

It is the hope and the powerful stories of breakthrough that I am excited to hear and see and this is what I will share with you, tales of mothers learning to be sustainable and of children being vaccinated and educated. I pray I can use my emotions appropriately, sometimes it might be right to shed a tear and offer a hug and another it will be right to keep my composure and to rely on God's strength to take me through. Whatever the situation I know I will be ill equipped as this is a completely new experience but thankfully I have Him who gives me strength, as well as some other amazing Mum/ Mom bloggers that I am just getting to know.

My aim is to share this journey with you from start to finish and beyond and to do it my way, it might not be eloquent, my grammar may be off and my spelling a bit rubbish but it will be raw and from the heart and I hope to move and compel you to join me and to join and become someone with a heart for the poor.

I could go on and on with this post as pretty much my head is taken over with thoughts of this trip at the moment but I'll stop here and come back later in the week with my next post, one about the preparations that I am going through for this trip.

If you think others will enjoy taking this journey with me, then please share this and my other ONE Ethiopia posts and don't forget to sign up to ONE and offer your voice. I am taking this journey with Jennifer Howze of BritMums, so do follow her journey too and follow #ONEMoms on Twitter.

From 6th October I'll be travelling with a group of 11 other inspirational Mums and Moms to Ethiopia as part of an expense paid trip courtesy of the ONE Campaign. Our trip is about success – Living Proof -- of what is working and why it is important that we continue to support projects that are making a huge, measurable difference for less than one percent of the entire US budget. It is about letting more people know what a tremendous difference the US and UK are making in the lives of millions around the world.  And it is about adding thousands more voices to those already letting their elected officials know they support these life-saving programs.
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