Tag Archives: fundraising

Adventures With Comic Relief

Capturing a story in Africa

Capturing a story in Africa

After coming back to the UK for a couple of weeks to consider my next move, I got an offer I couldn’t refuse: six weeks working as a Freelance Journalist for Comic Relief. This high-profile charity supports projects in the UK and overseas, mainly in Africa, and my job in the coming weeks is to gather stories from some of those projects to show how fundraisers’ money is being spent.

With Comic Relief’s Sport Relief 2014 campaign coming up (21st-23rd March), it’s a great opportunity to get some “good news stories” out there and I’m excited at the chance to be part of it.

My Comic Relief coffee mug :)

My regulation Comic Relief coffee mug 🙂

My first week has already been fantastically busy. I’ve interviewed a Ghanaian woman from a remote African village who pulled herself out of poverty to become President of one of the most successful Fairtrade cocoa farming co-operatives in Africa. I’ve covered a story about women being saved from the Nairobi slums by a project that promotes boxing as a way to combat social problems. And I’ve talked to a doctor in Ghana who’s at the forefront of delivering life-saving vaccines to remote village communities via the “cold chain” process. (Remember Ewan McGregor’s recent UNICEF Cold Chain Mission documentary on the BBC? It’s the same kind of thing.) Diverse work indeed – and I’m loving it!

After my 4 months in Uganda setting up Film Africa, a community film project for local people to share their stories using video, it’s fascinating seeing charity work from a different perspective and realising what’s involved, not just in the projects themselves, but in promoting awareness of their work. And as someone with a passion for Africa, I’m pleased to see so many people there benefitting from Comic Relief-funded programs.

So I’m throwing myself into the next few weeks. Apart from anything else, it’s a good opportunity to put some money in my pocket to help fund my next adventures. Because yes, as ever I’m cooking up some more overlanding exploits for 2014: more on that to come very soon… 🙂

To find out more about what Comic Relief does and see how you can get involved in this year’s Sport Relief campaign: http://www.comicrelief.com.

Volunteering: Worth The Money?

Trekking for UNICEF – a great fundraising experience!

Since doing my Sahara trek for UNICEF last November, I’ve been keen to find other ways of combining adventurous travel with “giving something back”. So I’ve been looking into volunteering, perhaps in Africa, Mongolia or South America. But after extensive research and asking-around, I’ve been decidedly discouraged by my findings.

Googling the word “volunteer” brings up swathes of companies worldwide who will organise your volunteering experience, whether it’s working with orphaned kids in Malawi, teaching English to Tongan students, helping out on an archaeological dig in Peru, or tracking endangered dolphins off Mombasa.

The experiences all look amazing – but I was staggered by some of the costs quoted. In many cases, a couple of weeks volunteering would cost more than a decent holiday in a nice hotel with all the trimmings. And for someone like me, wanting to dedicate perhaps three or six months to a worthwhile project, the accumulative costs become, quite simply, prohibitive.

I totally understand these companies have “administrative costs” they must cover. But when I’m paying for my own flight, living in very basic accommodation, and giving a huge chunk of my time (and skills) for free, I’m struggling to see why I have to pay someone such exorbitant fees for that “privilege”. Sadly, volunteering seems to be largely the domain of those who can afford it, rather than those with a genuine desire to give something back. And when it’s going to cost me an arm and a leg financially, it does somehow deflate the “goodwill bubble”.

So, somewhat disillusioned, I’ve put my volunteering aspirations to one side for now. I’m going to look for a way of organising my own – affordable – “giving back” experience…

Got a view on this? I’d love to hear it, so do post a comment below!