I have just realised that this is the first time I have written this year. Oops, it is already April. I guess I am trying to work out where the time went? Or maybe I am just tired. People are tired. Emotionally drained. Aren’t you just so tired of being tired and busy?
I’m having such a busy year. In fact that my ADD is playing up something terrible. I managed to accidentally book myself to run a workshop in Johannesburg, at the same time that my BFF would be on holiday in Durban, at my house! Today I am on a flight from Durban to Jozi but only just… Why? I managed to book the flight in the wrong direction. And my poor laptop is bearing the scars; I burnt it on a candle while working in a hotel restaurant. I now have a permanent black mark on my screen! There has to be a GIF or a meme for that somewhere.
The reality is that my situation is not that different to everyone else. Everyone is busy. Everyone is tired, perhaps apart from those awesome folk who like kale, jogging and yoga with some mindfulness in between.
The problem I am facing is the reason I am busy. I am busy because I don’t get to just do my job. At Umduduzi, Tracey and I spend most days working with seriously ill children and their parents, attending advocacy meetings, teaching health professionals and medical students and then we go home and come up with fundraising ideas.
I find myself wanting to yell “but I am just a doctor.” Too bad Julia. This is a path you have chosen (and here I hear my mother’s voice) because you believe in the work you do. And I really do, passionately. However, it is not sexy work. It’s not feel good stuff. No one wants to talk about seriously ill children that may suffer and that may not get better. No one really wants to think about it. I don’t even like talking about it. It is a serious conversation killer…Picture the scene:
Stranger: So what do you do?
Me: I’m a doctor.
Stranger: Wow, that’s amazing. What is your specialty?
Me: Ahem, (clears throat) Well, (pause) I provide care and support to seriously ill children, most of whom won’t survive.
Stranger: oh, oh, wow, that’s amazing (strained tone). You must be such a special person.
And so, fundraising, which is always difficult, becomes even more so.
Sadly, one of the communities that has supported us enormously in the last 5 years, has been on the receiving end of tragedy after tragedy. Emotionally draining because everyone cares so much. Everyone wants to help. And yes people are busy; very busy with their own lives.
Where it ends in a beautiful crazy country like ours, who knows, but NGOs like ours need help. While we are delighted with every toy and stationery item we receive, we need money. We need to give our team members a salary raise, we need to hire more staff. Bottom line, we need money to provide our professional service.
We can look to the government and say, “You should be funding this.” They know. And contrary to popular belief there are some beautiful people doing a phenomenal job in the Department of Health. And slowly things are starting to change but there is a long way to go with a massive list of competing priorities.
So the challenge is out there. Here are 5 ways you can support your chosen NGO: (preferably us!)
1) If you read this and you don’t have a MySchool card. Get one. It costs you nothing and you can swipe it at a number of stores. https://www.myschool.co.za/
2) If you have a spare R100, a month donate it. Sign up to an organisation that you believe in.
3) If you don’t have spare cash but like spending time with friends, host a small ‘Crumbs for Comfort’ event. http://www.umduduzi.co.za/crumbs-for-comfort/
4) If you have spare cash and like spending time with friends, hold an expensive ‘Crumbs for Comfort’ event. http://www.umduduzi.co.za/crumbs-for-comfort/
5) And at the very least, get vocal – share the posts on social media, like every post you see and tell your friends.
With that, I am going to bed and really hope that I have booked a flight in the correct direction tomorrow!