Being a philanthropist is not being rich but it is about giving something very valuable back to these who are in need. That valuable thing could be your time, knowledge or money.
For me, I started this long before I even knew what it meant…
Though I didn’t know what the word ‘volunteering’ meant, at a very young age, my mom used to send me over to a neighbour who would often get very ill and had to stay in bed for months. Her children were not around often as they were living with relatives and her husband had passed away. I used to do domestic work for the lady and used to bring some food to her from home.
Through this experience I learned how important it is to visit and care for those who are ill. Though that neighbour was sick and was in deep pain, she never lost her smile. Since this experience I became a doer and I confronted more benevolence from within me to help others who were in desperate need and I couldn’t in any shape or form ignore it. When I see a problem, an obstacle, an issue or someone who needs help even if they never asked me to help, I stand up and for most of the times without asking other people to give me a hand to deliver the good deed with me, I just go ahead and help them or try to solve it in anyway, shape or form.
For example, during the Somali civil war, I remember while my mom and I were visiting one of my uncles who had been injured, I saw many others who were injured and had lost either one or both of their lower limbs. These people were not in a place that had access to crutches. At that time, Mogadishu (the capital city of Somalia) was split into the northern and the southern territories, and these patients were in the north of Mogadishu in a big house, because the opposition group (whom they were fighting against) had conquered the most important places in the city, including the major hospitals. At the time, I was working as an auxiliary nurse at Digfeer General Hospital (in Mogadishu) and I knew that there was a group of physiotherapists there, helping and providing crutches to the hospital patients. Though I was putting myself in great danger (because if anybody found out that I was helping the other group, I would be in serious trouble, and could even be killed), I still had the desire and resilience to get more than 17 crutches and I alone carried them, walking more than 7 miles to give to the patients in need. Although they didn’t ask me, I couldn’t resist trying to help, and what made my day was seeing the smiles on their faces.
Little did I know, the more I give, the more I got back…
As I went on with life, doing good deeds and serving others in need either through volunteering with different charities/NGOs or independently, I so often came across challenges in my own life and the life of the communities around me. I then realised that I have a lot to offer…
In March 2010, I established Eva Organization for Women (EOW-Charity), a UK-registered charity (registered number 1156347) driven to help to improve lives of individuals who are in charitable need, in particular women, their families and young people, both in the UK and Somalia. For more information, please visit: www.eow-charity.org
On behalf of EOW-Charity, I visited Mogadishu, Somalia, in August 2011 to do humanitarian work in the children’s ward in Banaadir Hospital and to feed refugees in the refugee camps in Mogadishu, and where also, I was one of the few people who hosted K’Naan (a Somali musician and poet) in his visit to Mogadishu, Somalia in 2011 (read more about K’Naan’s trip to Somalia “Returning to Somalia After 20 Years” New York Times).
I stayed in Somalia for several weeks. The majority of that time was spent helping the needy, identifying the people and groups who needed the help and typing up the expectations and the structure of the project. Several days were spent in the children’s ward, helping injured children and several other days were spent at the refugee camps, distributing food and money. This trip was the start of EOW-Charity’s project for Somalia of which I launched the pilot that included “Teaching how to fish – Enterprising Women in Somalia” and “Operation Read to Learn” –building a library and “Giving the Light of Life” – sponsoring Somali orphans and underprivileged children.
Additionally, I am a mentor, and also volunteer as one of the trustees at Aqoon School-Home Support Services, in Leicester. I am also one of the few Somali leaders active in the UK (Somali Voice), trained by the Media Trust in media interview skills (TV, radio, print) to act as multi-skilled spokesperson on behalf of the Somali community.
So, keep in mind that being a philanthropist is not being rich but it is about giving something very valuable back to these who are in need. That valuable thing could be your time, knowledge or money.
P.S. my work as a philanthropist is not limited to the above-mentioned events but some of it will hopefully be published sometime soon!Thank you for reading my blog post and please feel free to join the conversation!