Are we changing the world?

As web designers we like to think we are shaping the web and that the web is changing the world. This is true, but there are other ways to transform the world and ourselves.

The web is a truly world changing invention and we have a part in shaping its evolution. It is an exciting time to be doing what we do.

However, while some western countries describe the web as a necessity and human right, there are parts of the world lacking much more fundamental amenities.

Not a guilt trip

I am fed up with charity campaigns that guilt us into giving. I don’t believe that is the way to make a difference. At least not on an individual level.

I don’t want to guilt you into giving a bit of cash because it is Christmas. Instead I want to inspire you to make a life change. A change that involves shifting your perspective from just seeing those online and in your direct vicinity, to recognising a big world. A world where people are showing incredible spirit in extraordinarily difficult situations.

I don’t want you to just give to the ‘poor’, I want you to see humanity in its fullness and allow it to change you.

A personal journey

I have always believed in giving a portion of my income to charity. I did so because I believed it was the right thing to do, rather than because I really wanted to.

However, that has all changed because of three charities I am involved with.

Kiva

Kiva Website

The first is Kiva, which allows you to lend money to entrepreneurs in developing countries. What I love about this charity is that you actually get a glimpse into those people’s lives. You are giving to specific individuals rather than to a faceless charity. I have even gone as far as researching the countries of people I give to.

Compassion

Compassion website

We discovered Compassion after my wife to Uganda. Catherine was struck by the children in that country and wanted to sponsor a girl out there. Compassion enabled her to do that.

However not only could she sponsor a child, she could also write to her and send her gifts. Through this we have begun to build up a real relationship with our child and understand her daily life.

The Bethesda Project

Finally, and most importantly there is the Bethesda Project.

Educating children out of poverty

The Bethesda Project is a school and orphanage in the heart of rural India. Their mission is to provide children an education that will enable them to escape from poverty and ultimately enriches their community.

Sarah and Simon Devaraj

It is run by Sarah and Simon Devaraj. Myself and Sarah grew up together in Dorset and we have remained friends ever since. It is Sarah and Simon who have taught me that changing the world is not about technology or innovation but about loving the next generation, one child at a time.

Their love and commitment to the children out shines the most charismatic of ‘web celebs’. They have shown me that my career as a web designer should be primarily there to benefit others through my giving. They have changed me.

They have also changed the lives of countless children. Children who were previously without hope.

Young boy from the Bethesda Project

Take for example this gorgeous little lad. He was brought to Sarah and Simon because he was left to die at the bottom of a well. He is now healthy, happy and getting the kind of education most kids in the area could only dream of.

Young girl from the Bethesda Project

Or this young lady (sorry I am leaving names out on purpose). She has excelled at school and is hoping one day to go to University.

Many of the kids have done exactly that. In fact the giving of the Boagworld community has allowed a young woman called Rachel to leave her home (for the first time ever) and study in China! Talk about changing lives!

Raising money for a better education

As part of my commitment and involvement with the Bethesda Project I would like to once again raise money for them through this podcast and blog.

I have kick started the fund with a gift of my own. However, I am hoping you will join me in giving to the work of Sarah and Simon.

Join me in providing an education to these children

If you are especially keen you can also sponsor a child at Bethesda. This costs £15 per month and is something we will be doing very soon!

Just another fund raising campaign

So am I just asking you to give to the work of the Bethesda Project? Not at all. In fact I would prefer it if you didn’t, if that is all you have taken from this post. If donating a few dollars to the Boagworld Christmas Appeal will leave you feeling satisfied then you have missed the point.

As I said at the beginning, I am encouraging you to start getting involved in the lives of others around the world.

Pick a charity you believe in and really invest in it. Get to know who you are giving to. Volunteer or even build a website for free ;-)

For example, my next step is to go to India and spend some time at the school. That might seem over the top to you, so start with something smaller. The point is to do more than give spontaneously when the mood grabs you.

Ultimately it will benefit you as much if not more than those you are supporting.

Photo of children in Bethesda Project

Photo of the entire school

  • http://why-not-smile.blogspot.com WhyNotSmile

    Good to see Compassion on the list – I’ve sponsored a little girl in the Philippines through them for a few years now, and it really does make a difference.

  • http://www.righttodream.com Right To Dream

    I think the Right To Dream academy definitely deserves a mention too. As do many others I guess.

  • http://www.xlevel.org.uk Jim

    I found Kiva a few years ago and have been loaning money through it ever since.
    The really nice thing about this is that you are not just giving the money away. It is a loan, so you get the capital back and then you can loan it out again. I find the increased level of activity makes you consider your loaning a little more.

    Also, from a professional point they have an API (build.kiva.org) that allows you to build apps, controls and mashups using the data.

    I think the special thing about this organization, and the others mentioned above is they fall into the teaching to fish rather than giving a fish category. It helps fix the problem not the symptom.

  • http://swbates.squarespace.com Steve

    This was a great way to start my Monday. I nearly got involved with a local charity here helping them with their website, but they were so disorganized that I just could not deal with them. This makes me want to go back and make some sort of more immediate contribution to it and other local charities.

    One of my favorite charity sites is http://www.freerice.com. You can answer trivia questions, and for every correct answer, 10 grains of rice are donated by the U.N World Food Program. Education is important, sure, but nutrition and hunger is of the most immediate importance to anyone anywhere.

    Cheers Paul, great post.

  • Sathish

    I’m from India, I’ve been thinking for sometime to teach computers for children in my village for free. Now I’ll Start it as soon as possible, This is a good encouraging post.

    Thanks.

  • http://www.416studios.com Michael

    Originating from a third world country I know first hand how important direct charities like compassion are and how much they can change lives. My sister was lucky enough to be sponsored by similar organization.

    I am now able to do the same for a child.

    The Kiva program looks very interesting.

  • Toby

    Perhaps you should be looking closer to home for your charities Paul, when India is spending and achieving more with technology than the UK could ever hope to. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/8230230.stm

    • http://headscape.co.uk/people/boag.html Paul Boag

      lol… India is a big country. The difference between the rural and urban parts of the country are very marked.

      That said, a significant portion of my monthly giving is also invested in the UK. If you want recommendations for UK charities I am more than happy to make suggestions. There are some great volunteer opportunities too.

  • http://orraclemedia.com Rob

    Paul – great blog, and just at the right time. there are great projects out there that need exposure. I’ve also heard about this one – http://www.keza.com/ – that seems to be doing interesting things too.

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