Love Let Me Not Hunger

So many suffer so much while so few sacrifice so little.
-Robert Pierce, Founder and President 1950-1967, World Vision International

Good morning lovely friends. On Sunday, I had a bit of a mishap. I fell! Apart from bumps and bruises I have a hairline fracture on my right hand ring finger. The ring finger is now strapped to the middle finger, so I’m feeling a bit irritated because I’m right handed and now I feel a bit incapacitated. Brad suggested that I use notes to do my blog today and also reminded me that he has been begging me to have some spare stories filed away in case something like this happens. He isn’t the only one who has spoken about this. George has too. I’ve learned big lesson. I’m afraid I’m a bit of a procrastinator and sometimes it comes back to bite me.

However, I am just thinking that this is absolutely amazing that I can dictate to the Apple Notes app! I speak into the phone and then it just types it all up for me. I wish my Irish father was alive today to see this. I can just picture him sitting here next to me, shaking his head and in his wonderful Irish brogue saying: “tsk, tsk, well I never, isn’t this amazing!”

Believe me when I tell you that I will most certainly be taking George and Brad‘s advice in future!

Today is a perfect opportunity to share with you some of my experiences as a fundraiser. I guess I have been raising funds for various organisations for the past 30 years. My very first fundraising position was with World Vision of South Africa in the mid 1980’s.  Since the early ‘50’s World Vision, a humanitarian aid organisation has been transforming the lives of vulnerable children.

World Vision, a Christian faith-based organisation, is one of the biggest international children’s charities in the world. People from all over and from many different backgrounds and faith groups work toward empowering communities through an integrated approach. This would include water, healthcare, education, child protection, and income generation projects. When I worked for World Vision in the mid-1980s, it was very difficult to raise funds due to political instability in South Africa. Townships were being patrolled by the national defence force, many people were being detained and arrested without trial, plus the government declared a state of emergency. There was a lot of political mistrust and so it made our work in World Vision extremely difficult. The business community and private individuals didn’t want to help or were reluctant to support the work of World Vision.

Working for World Vision certainly gave me deeper insight into the cruelty of apartheid, as well as the political discourse at the time. it was also a time of deep introspection. I had to examine the lies I had been taught as a child.  As a result I had a very painful discussion with my parents. I think for all of us it was life-changing, and I’m truly grateful for that experience as it changed my perceptions and made me examine my prejudice. It also introduced me to wonderful people I would never have met – fantastic friendships grew out of this and I will forever be grateful for having had this painful experience.

My next fundraising position was for the Reach for a Dream Foundation – a wonderful organisation that realises the dreams of children living with a life-threatening illness and I quote from their wonderful page: “Reach for a Dream helps alleviate the strain that life-threatening illnesses place on sick children and their families by providing these dreamers with the opportunity to believe in their greatest wish. The Foundation has been serving children all around the country for the past 35 years.”

Basically, we would find out or be made aware of a child who was desperately ill living with a life-threatening illness, one of our volunteers would then visit the child and the parents, speak to them about dreams and dreaming. Dreams varied from wanting a PlayStation, or going on a trip somewhere, flying in an aeroplane, meeting a celebrity, to something as simple as owning a pair of red socks. (Yes you heard me – a pair of red socks.  We bought her some and we included a doll and some clothing.  My job was to make these dreams happen by raising money and awareness by organising and creating fundraising events.

During my tenure we worked on fabulous events. A few spring to mind like Heinz Winkler’s concert and the Renaissance du Chefs’, a fabulous event organised by the executive chef at The Boardwalk. He invited other chefs to join him create a wonderful banquet.  I had to sell that idea to corporates. The Boardwalk Convention Centre hosted the event and our guest celebrity P J Powers performed her magic. Those in attendance at the function opened their kind hearts and their wallets by donating generously to making dreams come true.

One day, I was driving around with George when I noticed a group of little chaps playing cricket. They were in the road playing with a bit of blank for a bat and a very sad looking tennis ball, they seemed to be having so much fun.  Mmmmm I thought “this could make for a lovely fundraising event”. I spoke to my friend Pine Pienaar, who was a photography lecturer at the NMU art school. We approached the final year photography students whereby I encouraged them to visit township, suburbs, sports grounds any place where children would be playing cricket, I asked them to take photographs of these informal matches. It was very good experience for the students as it gave them an insight into the creativity of children, in that they can enjoy a game of cricket with anything that represents a bat and a ball. Those young people rose to the challenge as they photographed and photographed and photographed amazing images.  I was in contact with the United Cricket Board. We sent the best photographs to them and they in turn got the team members, like Makhaya Ntini, Graham Smith and others to each autograph a photograph. Those photographs were duly sent back to Port Elizabeth where we auctioned them off. I think we raised R20,000.00 it was great fun! I always enjoy doing something different and that was one of those events that worked so well.

I have been privileged to work for wonderful organisations like Childline, Girls and Boys Towns, SHINE Literacy (part of the Walmer Angels Project), as well as Artworks for Youth and I have met truly amazing and dedicated folk who are so committed to assisting in making life happen.

“Love, Let Me Not Hunger” is the title of a book written by Paul Gallico. It speaks to my heart, if we operate from a place of love, fierce love, then no-one should be hungry, lonely and homeless.

I dedicate this to Joe Araujo, Frans Bekker, Tessa Thonett, Glenda Brunette…people of great substance who have dedicated their lives to changing the lives of others.

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  • Sanette Cavallari

    This speaks to my heart! Bless you Gail !

  • Anne Bizinos

    What a wonderful Blog. I am sure you attained such joy when you saw the smiles of the recipients of your charity work. May you continue to raise awareness of all the work do for children in need.