Spread the sunshine and give back with a charitable bucket list to last you through the summer months.
By Amy Van Es
Look around: spring is out and summer is here. With school wrapped, I’m sure you’re looking ahead to what you and your friends will get up to during the break. Beach hangouts, lemonade on the porch, walks through the park and camping out—there’s no end to your growing summer bucket list!
As important as maximizing downtime is, this summer try not to forget to give back to the community and people around you.
You could go big and enroll in one of our camps to gain hands-on experience as a fierce social advocate. Or, if you’re hunting for a more flexible way to make an impact close to home, we’ve got a few other fun tricks up our sleeve to help you out.
We believe it takes a well-rounded approach to positively change the local and international social landscape. To do this, there are five main elements (which we call “Pillars of Impact”) that WE Villages focuses on to make sustainable change internationally. They are education, water, health, food and opportunity.
Over the next couple of months, make it your summer goal to effect change in each of our pillars with the help of these ideas!
Did you know that 25 million children around the world don’t have the opportunity to go to school? When children are educated, they’re armed with the courage and self-confidence to better themselves, their families and, ultimately, to help lift their communities out of poverty.
To raise awareness around this issue, teach your neighbours about the challenges these children face by taking to the streets—literally! Grab your sidewalk chalk and list facts about world education down your driveway. Don’t forget to add a ton of colour to grab the attention of passersby!
Stats to get you started:
• There are four million more girls than boys who can’t get an education.
• A child whose mother can read is 50% more likely to survive past the age of five.
• If all women had a primary education, there would be 1.7 million fewer malnourished children.
Clean water isn’t a luxury, it’s a basic human right. Yet millions of people around the world don’t live near a reliable water source. Improving access to clean water is one of the quickest ways to lift a community out of poverty. It reduces illness, allows girls to go to school (girls are often tasked with retrieving their family’s water) and leads to better agriculture and access to food.
There have been many grassroots efforts to help solve this issue for those in developing countries. WE Villages builds wells, hand pumps and catchment systems right in the heart of the community to ensure easy access, while some families have taken it upon themselves to set up their own water-collection systems on their land.
To gain a better understanding of how these systems work, set one up in your backyard to harvest rain water. All you need is a pail, really! Simply position a jug or barrel at the foot of an existing gutter and wait for a rainy day.
Questions to ask and facts to know:
How much water can you collect per rainfall? Does it seem like enough to keep your family’s household going for even one day? Keep in mind it takes one gallon of water every time you brush your teeth, about 1.5 gallons to boil a pot of spaghetti and 2.1 gallons for every minute you’re in the shower.
In the simplest terms, “food security” means knowing where your next meal is coming from and not worrying about whether there will be enough. And although many of us will never have to think twice about reaching into the cupboard for a snack, keep in mind that one in nine people don’t have access to the food they need to lead a healthy, active life.
There are a ton of reasons for this lack of resources. Changing weather patterns and drought threaten food security in the long run, while low income and lack of farming technology are two challenges that families in the developing world face daily.
Set out to educate yourself:
This summer, take a trip to a local farm to pick yourself some fruit or vegetables. (We hear blueberries are particularly good in the middle of the school break!) Ask the proprietors about modern farming methods and how they automate certain aspects of their operation. Then, grab a bowl of your hand-picked treats to munch on and hop online to research how the farm’s methods differ from those in developing countries. Ask yourself questions like: what resources make it easier for North Americans to gather food? Or, what challenges do those in, say, Africa face that we don’t need to worry about here? We bet you’ll find the answers illuminating!
Geared particularly toward women in our partner communities, one element of WE’s Opportunity Pillar is teaching people how to generate and manage income. When mothers develop the education, tools and skills to earn a living, they can create lasting change for their own families and the communities in which they live.
Make a difference at home:
A bit closer to home, the Opportunity Pillar is a chance for you to teach yourself a new skill or stretch your entrepreneurial muscle. Maybe you’ve been yearning to start your own babysitting business or give piano lessons. Take this chance to learn how to find clients and work with money this summer. And, while you’re at it, why not add a charitable spin to it? Find a cause that speaks to you, then choose an organization working to help that cause and donate a portion of your earnings to their efforts. This way, you can plump up your bank account (not to mention your understanding of economics) and give back to your local community.
Health is an integral part of the WE Villages development model because it directly affects a community’s ability to improve the other four pillars.
When families don’t have access to health care, they could have a harder time finding a job, going to school and performing daily household tasks, including collecting water. Without the ability to do these things, families can plunge even deeper into poverty.
Get the community behind your cause:
Hosting an event geared toward physical wellness is a great way to spark conversation about health education in your own community! We suggest grabbing a couple of friends and hosting anything from a dance-a-thon to a jump rope event to raise awareness around the impact health has on one’s overall livelihood. (Don’t forget to check out this super helpful resource guide to organize your event!)
With the funds you collect, you can help communities in developing countries achieve their dreams by donating to WE Villages. Support health-related initiatives that provide quality care for new moms, newborns and the overall health and wellness of communities. And remember, every step or jump you take has the power to make a lasting impact in communities around the world.