Giving is receiving!
One of the feelings I love the most is going back to basic conditions: go somewhere, do something that will set your priorities back to what it should be. When I began to dig into Mindfulness, this brought me to mediation techniques, which helped me be present at the moment. At the same time, mediation brought me to gratefulness. Be thankful with who you are, the people around you, the situations that life gives you. I learned also about giving and how complete it makes you when you do it.
Going back to memory lane, I remember one of the best assignments I had during university time. My team and I had to make a report about Homeless Women. Some of us went to one of the most dangerous street of Bogota, called “El Cartucho”, where most of the worst-case junkies lived. Others went to a rehabilitation center where we heard stories about how easy was to steal a car. But for me the best was going with a group of people, late in the evening to give food to others we found in the street.
One thing called my attention: at the meeting point there were two children. We gave them some food we had for them. And what we saw was, how they shared their only meal they had for days with their dog. I have seen this behaviour later in life. It amazes me how the people who have the less are the most generous ones. That evening was one of the most accelerating evenings of my life, full of eye-opening moments, which set me back to my basic condition.
That is the reason why, when I started Wana Bana Design, I knew I wanted to incorporate that part in my company: the giving part. Trying to make positive social impact. Be able to generate work for disadvantaged communities to close the social gap. And to return back of the profit to my country by investing in educational programs for the future: the children.
The first donation, we did it almost a year ago.There we learned just like TOMS that giving is very difficult and is never enough. I just came into Cares institute with some little profit I had made during my first months as entrepreneur and bought some school material for the children.
My BFF Aura gave me the idea to have more impact by involving more people, more companies. And that is what I did for the second donation. Thanks to Procolombia I met inspiring entrepreneurs during the last business fair who just like me wanted to have social impact:
Lujana, creates jewellery from rest materials such as the skin of oranges. They joined the cause by donating school material. Hanna Crow, hand-makes bags by reusing materials like videotape from old VHS. Plus she is involved with educational programs to empower children to collect plastic at their homes and school in exchange of school material. She joined the cause by giving a workshop in recycling to the children we were going to visit. She also donated the chance to acquire for free green bricks (bricks made from recycle plastic). Placecol donated toothbrushes for the oral health of the children.
This time, we chose Fundacion A las 5 as the educational program we wanted to help this year. They provide a save environment to children from Ciudad Bolivar (an area that concentrates one of the poorest population in Bogotá with high levels of violence due to a large activity of gangs, mafia, and at times FARC, one of the national terrorist groups of Colombia.) They provide lunch and homework assistance to 70 children. What called my attention the most, is that they know that in order to help these children, they have to help their parents. Last year they started a pilot to create jobs for a group of parents paired with social& psychological support.
Many friends and family also donated to the cause in many ways. Maria Paula Rengifo, Martha Montoya, Yolanda Penaloza, Daniela Sanchez Polanco donated by becoming part of the program “Plan espantador del monstruo del hambre” which translates “plan to scare the monster of hunger”. That means that by giving a monthly fixed amount per month each of them sponsors a nutritious lunch to a child from A las 5 program. Clara Ines Walton, Natalia Char, Carlos Penuela, Sandra Gomez donated school material. Catalina Borrero collected children toys. Wana Bana donated part of the profit, thanks to it’s clients.
Last but not least, the volunteers that came that day to make the donation possible. They gave a day to help us give the children a fantastic time: Aura Garcia, Yolanda Penaloza, Hanna Crow and my little one Thomas Baeyens. We went to Fundacion A las 5 to give them the school material bought from the donations: paper, cardboard, colours, paintbrush, glue, etc. And each child received a pencil case with an eraser, pencil, scissors, sharpener and a toothbrush. As activity, Hanna Crow taught them about Isla Basura or Island of Trash (film 1, film 2). How plastic we throw away is polluting our ocean and the fish we eat. It made such an impression that Thomas still remembers that “whales are eating plastic and this hurts their tummy”. After it, we made a workshop on how to use recycled material by making picture frames out of VHS video cardboard and beer caps. And we proposed the idea to start a plastic collection program in exchange of school material.
It was a fantastic day full of emotions: I received the satisfaction of giving something to the less fortunate, the feeling of wanting to give even more, the feeling of seeing Thomas share with other children. The smile of the children when receiving their gifts. The feeling of having multiplied 25 times the effort through the involvement of entrepreneurs, friends and family with the same vision towards one goal. At the end, I received even more than I gave…which is a total contradiction to the prime reason started it all.
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