Growing up with Red Nose Day – how I was inspired to do more

2017-03-26 20:03:22 by T4N

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Growing up with Red Nose Day – how I was inspired to do more 23 March 2017 5:56PM UTC Email Join By Mary Mandefield Silly noses on our faces, non-uniform day, teachers getting their legs waxed in front of the whole school and knowing that Lenny Henry and a gang of celebs would take over the TV that evening. As a kid, what was not to love about Red Nose Day? The novelty and charade of the day often masked the seriousness of the causes that we were fundraising for. I used to take so much pride in spraying my hair red for school and bringing in £2 to put in the donation tin. In my head, that was all that needed to be done to put the world to rights until the next charity day came along. When the evening TV show cut to reports of the causes that were being funded, I couldn’t help but feel spoilt with the life I had, as I’m sure others did too. I would see kids that didn’t look too different to me – the same brown skin, curly hair, sister by their side, playing hand clapping games and singing nursery rhymes. But their mother had died from HIV, or their school had closed because there were no teachers, or their village had been effected by a food shortage. Comic Relief seemed to be solving problems that didn’t need to exist but so few people were willing to help fix. Red Nose Days continued, I carried on donating a few quid each time and carried on watching in disbelief; the success stories often overshadowed by people still dying and suffering. When I turned 17 I began to fundraise for a year long volunteer program in Namibia; I taught in a rural primary school and loved every minute. When I was 19 I spent long sunny days assisting in a Nursery in Cape Town, South Africa – I saw how some parents in townships struggled to raise their children. When I was 20 years old I took part in the government scheme, International Citizenship Service, and worked with youth groups in Kenya. People lived in shacks, babies were visibly ill and young people lived on the streets. With every new experience, I was keen to learn more about why these people were living like this. Why can’t they break free from the cycle of poverty and illness? My next question was ‘how can we change this?’. A friend I volunteered alongside in Kenya noticed my increased interest in international development and turned my attention to the ONE Campaign. I applied online and became a youth ambassador in 2016. My aunty then observed that I was actively seeking answers and solutions to poverty and pointed me in the direction of a career in fighting the problem. Could I actually do this as a job? Don’t I need to be a professor or a doctor to have a say? Apparently not. A year later and I’m about to start in my third role at Oxfam – a humanitarian charity who work with Comic Relief. As a ONE Campaign Youth Ambassador and at work I don’t hand out food parcels or dish out mosquito nets for thousands at a time. But the work I do in an office that attracts volunteers who will talk to people about what we do, encourages others to donate their time or money, and challenges politicians to change laws that keep people in poverty — the positive cycle continues. Activism and philanthropy are hot topic at the moment; boycotts, crowdfunding, online petitions and rallies seem to be an everyday occurrence. Although it wasn’t the only contributing feature, Red Nose Day definitely spurred me on to take part in campaigning and fundraising, and I’m thankful that I’m not the only one. We’re a generation ready to come together and see the bigger picture – maybe partly because we’ve grown up seeing events like Red Nose Day. In 2017, when a crisis hits, we can hear real life stories quicker than ever before; in videos, live streams, podcasts, blogs and tweets. Thanks to social media there are more ways in which we can get involved with development; the young people who will be wearing a red nose this year are more ready than ever to speak up to reduce and eventually end poverty. The battle is far from over but we’ve come so far from where we were 15 years ago when I was at school; the number of people living in extreme poverty has been halved. Progress is being made. The same aunty who pushed me into the job also used to work in international development and just happened to be in the meeting room when they came up for the idea of Red Nose Day. Of course, she was skeptical about the idea at first – mixing humour with such a sensitive subject matter is risky. But evidently, Red Nose Day was a success. I’m so grateful for the work Comic Relief does and consequently, the amount of people – such as myself – who have since been inspired to take action to fight extreme poverty and disease. If you want to get involved, head to the Red Nose Day . × Join the fight against extreme poverty Name Post/zip code Country When you submit your details, you accept ONE’s privacy policy and will receive occasional updates about ONE’s campaigns. You can unsubscribe at any time. By checking this box, you accept ONE’s privacy policy and will receive occasional updates about ONE’s campaigns. You can unsubscribe at any time. Share

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Growing up with Red Nose Day – how I was inspired to do more

2017-03-26 20:03:22
Growing up with Red Nose Day – how I was inspired to do more 23 March 2017 5:56PM UTC Email Join By Mary Mandefield Silly noses on our faces, non-uniform day, teachers getting their legs waxed...