5 ways to change the world this holiday season

5 December 2016

The fact that it’s almost the end of 2016 seems crazy — there are still so many journeys to go on and so much good to do! So as we approach the warm and fuzziest (maybe only metaphorically if it’s winter where you are right now) time of year, we thought of a few final ways you can make a really good impact on the world and have a happy holiday at the same time:

  1. Donate your christmas: instead of getting gifts from family or friends, why don’t you pick a cause close to your heart and ask them to give gifts or donations to that charity instead. You all get the good vibes and a hard-working cause gets some extra help. Hooray!
  2. Have a community christmas: it’s not just a holiday for family, you can have friends, colleagues and anyone you know in your community who doesn’t have people to spend the day with over to your celebration to let them know they’re special.
  3. Up your ‘random acts of kindness’ quota this season: it’s as simple as that — commit to being extra nice to everyone you meet for as long as you can. One kind act for a stranger every day? Sounds amazing!
  4. Make instead of buy all your gifts: if you’re giving loved ones gifts this year, why not see if you can make them instead of buying them? The recipient will appreciate it more because you spent extra time on it.
  5. Book an internship with an NGO for 2017! (We couldn’t resist.) If you want to make long-lasting change with a cause that’s working really hard in a beautiful part of the world, there’s your answer. We’re accepting applications for 2017 now!

However you’re celebrating the end of the year, we hope you’re safe and happy, with people you care about, and are relaxing after another crazy year!

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Let’s have 365 Days of Activism

28 November 2016

“No woman or child should be sexually harassed, beaten, raped, stabbed, shot, or attacked in any manner, anywhere in our country.” ~ South African President, Jacob Zuma

According to the United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women Gender-Based Violence (GBV) is described as any act ‘that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life’.

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It was this Declaration that inspired the 16 Days of Activism in South Africa, a national awareness campaign that has been in existence for the past 17 years. Every year from the 25th of November to the 10th of December, various organisations create awareness around GBV to educate individuals and also to serve as a platform for abused persons to come forward and seek assistance.

During this time, South Africa is committed to protecting the vulnerable persons in society by ensuring the below objectives speak to the needs of the country. The efficacy of these objectives, and the 16 Days of Activism campaign as a whole, have been questioned of late. South Africa’s shockingly high rate and violent nature of sexual offences call for much more than just 16 Days of Activism. Awareness, protection and care for survivors must be a 365-day campaign.

Some of the objectives include:

  • To change the behaviours of current and past perpetrators
  • To increase awareness levels amongst citizens in relation to the rate of violence against women and children
  • To highlight the stories of survivors of gender-based violence and child abuse, and the impact that the campaign has had on their lives
  • To enhance and increase partnerships between government, the private sector, civil society, organised labour, sectoral groups, faith-based organisations, the media (electronic and print) and the diplomatic community in an effort to spread the message
  • To raise funds for NGOs that work within the sector, providing invaluable support to the victims and survivors of violence;
  • To communicate through the most effective and appropriate channels aiming to reach the maximum number of people across the country, particularly women and children residing in rural areas, and
  • To engage actively with men and boys in the discourse about combating violence in our homes, our communities and in the workplace.

During these 16 days, people wear white ribbons to show their support. Individuals are encouraged to get tested for HIV/AIDS at various testing stations, made available by government, around the country.

The 16 Days of Activism is also a time in which people should be encouraged to speak about their experiences so that others may find the courage to come forward and end their suffering. Awareness should not only be confined to the Days of Activism, but throughout the year. Creative Consulting & Development Works Research & Evaluation Manager Susannah Clarke reiterated this view by saying that “16 Days of Activism is important because it raises awareness on the issues we have in this country. Human rights cannot be protected if a person is not aware of their human rights… there is a need to have 365 days of activism not only 16 days; we should always be cognisant about these issues and not only at a certain time of the year.”

Gender-based violence is rampant in this country and millions of women live in fear, many within their own homes. It is vital that communities become proactive in combating GBV. Community Safety MEC Faith Mazibuko mentioned that although much “… has been achieved since the dawn of democracy, things such as gender-based violence, poverty and unemployment continue to be a big problem for South Africa and other countries.”

We are told that a woman is raped every 17 seconds in this country, but only one out of nine report it. A shocking one in six men report they have been a perpetrator of sexual violence. Violence against women knows no race, culture or class; it spreads across all communities. We must recognise that these numbers and statistics are not just numbers, they are people – South African women and girls. We must stand together against gender-based violence 365 days of the year, and do something. We must reach boys at a young age to dispel the myth, and tradition, that power over a woman makes a man. We must stand up against domestic violence instead of covering our eyes and turning up the music. Dr. Mamphela Ramphele writes, “Violence against women and children is emblematic of a society at war with itself.”

if i could… wishes that all South Africans unite to help combat gender-based violence. After all, there is strength in numbers… and in knowledge.

How to raise funds for your internship adventure

24 November 2016

Sometimes, usually when we’re meeting the great interns on the if i could… programme, we start dreaming about all the places we still need to travel to and how much more of the world there is to experience out there. Do you get sent off on those tangents too?

It’s amazing to theorize about all the trips you could go on and the people you could meet there, and we think dreams like that should only be built on more and more, so we’re working to move the hurdles out of your way while you make more plans.

One of those hurdles is often figuring out how to pay for your travels. That’s why we’ve teamed up with FundMyTravel to help provide solution to your financial roadblock.

FundMyTravel is an online fundraising platform where you can easily build a profile, launch your campaign and share your page to your network of family and friends to help spread the word and encourage more people to donate to your dream.

We made you a quick video with some important tips on how to become a travel funding ninja. Watch here:

Here’s how to run a travel funding campaign that steals people’s hearts and gets you to your destination

  1. Start a campaign on a platform that’s easy for people to use and donate to (it’s important you don’t lose them with a tricky payment process). It doesn’t have to be on FundMyTravel, it can be on any crowdfunding platform you know, but this is the easiest and best one we’ve found so far.
  2. Share it everywhere you can! Your friends and family are the obvious ones to tell, but think who else you could send it to — your extended networks, the people from a school tour last year, and even your community media like newspapers? Tell them about all the good you’re going to do in Cape Town or New Delhi and how always let them know how you’ll put their donations to good use.
  3. If you’re reaching out to people you don’t know, it’s especially important to show them why it’s a good idea to support your fundraising: will 50% of their donations be given to a local charity? Are you using their funds for food or for transport? Can you bring them any souvenirs from your trip? Give people as many reasons as possible to support your campaign.
  4. When you leave for your adventure, don’t think your campaign ends — send funders regular updates about what you’re doing and how much you’re achieving thanks to their kind donations. This can be in any form you like: Instagram stories, personal emails, actual postcards.
  5. Let us know when you’re raising funds! We’re starting a monthly Featured Fundraiser spotlight on our social media channels and we’d love to tell your story. Tweet us your campaign page and we’ll share it with our community too.

>> Click here to start a campaign on FundMyTravel today. <<

Would you like to learn more about running a crowdfunding campaign for your travels? We’re running a webinar on funding your travels in January 2017. Click here to let us know if you’d like to join it.

How volunteering helps us all (and your favourite cause)

21 November 2016

Oxford English Dictionary just declared “post-truth” the word of 2016 and that sometimes feels just about right. After Brexit, an upcoming Trump presidency in the US, and the hottest year on global record, things feel like they’re going a bit crazy and we’re getting more and more disconnected from our shared experience as a global community.

Because of this, there’s one other topic we’ve been coming back to a lot in the if i could… office recently — volunteering and where it fits in in our lives.

Getting out to volunteer our times and skills for causes we believe in means we reconnect with the goodness inside ourselves, and also make new friends, have new experiences, and hopefully change a life.

This belief in the power of volunteering is why we’re really excited to have launched our volunteering program in New Delhi for this Christmas.

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The one great thing about philanthropy is that you really can do no wrong! Find a cause that you care about and spend a couple of hours a week or per month. You don’t have to be an expert by any means – you just have to have a drive and willingness to help others. Any amount of time is appreciated – you make a huge difference just by being there. Spending time in situations where people are faced with hardships can be challenging.

How volunteering can change things

One of our interns shared one of her strongest volunteering memories from back home:

I remember one day in particular. It was a difficult Monday (aren’t they all?) where nothing was going right – my hair was not cooperating with the weather, I had slept through an early morning class and I had to walk through campus in snow that came up to my knees. I was almost going to excuse myself from a volunteer commitment I had made to help out at homeless shelter, but I decided to go anyway. At the shelter that day, various companies around the city had put together tables with amenities for the under-privileged. As a volunteer, I had to show people around the area and make sure they knew where to find everything they needed.

My first guest of the day was a middle-aged man who was very cheerful despite being out in the snow all day. I showed him around the hall and asked if he needed to see a doctor, or perhaps some groceries and clothes. He said all he needed was some dog food for his beagle which was waiting for him outside. I led him to the pet section and he picked up some pet food and went on his way. I was completely amazed that although this gentleman was facing difficult circumstances, he was not thinking of himself at the time. I went home that day with a new perspective on things that I thought were tough, and gratitude for everything that I had.

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Which brings us back to the question – why volunteer? Volunteer because it keeps us humble and helps us to appreciate the world I live in. Volunteer because it’s possible to learn something from everyone you meet and interact with. Volunteer because every little bit of time you spend helping others makes a positive impact in someone’s life. Finding a volunteer project can be overwhelming, but that’s where we can help you!

Why volunteer in India?

Working in a third world country like India, which is going through an economic boom, combined with the experience of living with 1.2-billion fellow inhabitants, getting to know their culture, religion, tradition, and enjoying the beautiful nature the country has to offer, makes for a truly memorable experience.  Not only will you grow your skills and build on your resume but you will also grow as a person given the richness and diversity of this country.

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We all look for experiences that broaden our perspective and change us for the better. India is far from a simple country. The culture shock you experience upon arriving there almost demands that you change your horizon and look at things in a way like never before.

When a stranger helps you or even when a child you helped touches your feet and folds hands to express how thankful they are to you, there is no way you cannot feel a feeling you have never had.

What we say about India can never do justice to what you can actually experience there, but rest assured you will not leave the same person.

Change your perspective this year and come and volunteer with us in New Delhi. Click here to apply today! 🎄

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Finding adventures in and around Cape Town

18 November 2016

20160902_154748by Camille de Vos, who’s interning in Cape Town

At the beginning of this week, I was regaling a friend of mine with tales of the weekend. While I was covering Sunday afternoon’s hike, an adventure we hoped would take four hours but ended up being five and a half, he broke into laughter and exclaimed ‘Wow, you really are living the life.” After stopping and reflecting on that, I realised I really am living the life, whatever it is that phrase means.

Not only do I have an incredible internship opportunity, which has opened so many different doors and opportunities for me professionally, each and every moment is filled with adventure.

Reflecting on all the adventures I’ve had here in this vibrant city, they are all so different yet so wonderful at the same time. I’ve travelled on the back of a motorbike to catch the sunset from Signal Hill, hunted down fantastic restaurants to catch a delicious meal and hiked up Lion’s Head during a full moon. Other times I have piled in the back of a car with friends to head out of town to go horse riding, followed by a marvelous lunch and wine tasting in the winery next door. I’ve discovered banana bread French Toast for breakfast and discussed the meaning of life beneath the light of the super moon.

Being in another place and open to the new experiences that come with it, anything can happen. You may even find yourself baking cookies at 11pm on a Wednesday evening.

No matter what your interests are, Cape Town will definitely have something to fit into your taste. If you’re a more active person you can always find a hike to do, go surfing or even paragliding. If that isn’t really suited to your taste, you can very easily find a restaurant that serves up some tasty food and a great wine to go with it, or you could head out of town a bit and go wine tasting at one of the many wineries in the region.

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Within town you can also visit the “old school” Labia theatre for a movie, check out the art galleries and shops on Bree street as they open up on the first Thursday evening of each month. Over the weekends various markets are running, offering more great food and a range of different crafts, clothing and other fascinating items.

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Adventure is there, waiting for all who are willing to grab it. Breathe in the good vibes of Cape Town and hold on tight as you ride the waves of adventure as it comes your way.

Start your adventure today and apply for an if i could… internship like Camille’s here.

Contact us for more information