week #27 volunteer my time

timeI have just poked my head through the curtains and within the last hour the world has turned white. Winter is officially upon us. My tendency during these chilly months is to improve my personal insulation by way of excessive chocolate consumption. Additionally, I skilfully invent a plethora of excuses in order to stay indoors and hibernate rather than venture into the freezing cold. Evidently, I am not alone. Here in the UK we have recently had to endure ‘Blue Monday‘, the third Monday in January deemed as the most depressing day of the year. Thankfully I was able to avoid the misery by skiing down a Swiss Alp. Yet, once the ski holiday becomes a distant memory, I too must endure the dreary winter days, complete with grey skies and minimal daylight.

Over the years, I have found that one of the best remedies for a depressive or melancholy state is to focus away from my own feelings of self-pity by reaching out to help others. I know it doesn’t make much sense. If I have enough of my own problems, how can I really help others? What do I have left to give? However, despite it feeling totally counter-intuitive, sometimes the best thing I can do is get over myself and get a little bit of perspective. If we all spent our energy only attempting to deal with our own issues, this world would be a much colder place than it feels today.

As regular readers of this blog will know, I recently became an ambassador for the Global Poverty Project. I have loved my involvement with the organisation and every time I get a positive response from a presentation I give, I am encouraged to keep being a voice for the 1.4 billion people living in extreme poverty around the globe. However, being a volunteer does take time and recently I had to decide whether or not to continue as an ambassador in 2012 or to take a break. I have my studies, church involvements, a dog to walk, a household to manage and friends who live around the corner whom I haven’t seen for months…and of course a husband who I am pretty sure would like to spend time with me occasionally! Can I really afford the time after all my other commitments? Actually, what I should be asking is whether I can afford not to do this? You see, without this, everything else is about me and my world. I acknowledge that the need in our immediate community is always a priority. However, it is also important to remember that we now live in a world where our global connections have made the world a much smaller place and our actions impact others and their actions impact us. If I don’t buy fairtrade chocolate, I am actually saying that it is okay for child slaves to be picking cocoa beans. If I don’t speak up for the poor, I have to go to bed at night knowing that 22,000 children died today when there was something that I could have done about it. And suddenly my own problems, in my small world, seem insignificant.

So, at the start of this ‘second-half’ of small change, I am committing to the 2012 Global Poverty Ambassador programme. If I am truly passionate about seeing an end to extreme poverty, I need to get out of my pj’s, close the treat tin and do something about it! Why not do the same? You could help out at a homeless shelter, visit an old people’s home, get involved with wayward teenagers who need a bit of guidance or even join the GPP ambassador programme! And who knows, maybe winter will pass you by and you didn’t even notice.


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