Collecting with the Collective
“No man is an island”, so the poem goes, but it’s very easy to feel isolated when you’re sitting in front of a computer screen all day long.
OK yes, there may be a few team members and the odd (and I do mean odd) intern around, and the building may be filled with Christian Aid employees all working to eradicate poverty in their own specialised way. But other than the 300 or so people around me right now, I’m on my own. Sure, we may talk about our “supporters” and the “movement of young people that will be the generation to bring an end to poverty”, but they’re not here right now and so they don’t count.
Sounds ridiculous, but humans are notoriously short-sighted. We’re very good (and when I say we, I mean me) at focussing in on our own little bubble. My work is clearly more important than anyone else’s. My time is obviously more valuable. I’m evidently the only person who has had to give up two hours of their day to go and stand in the cold at a mainline London station and shake a bucket for donations as part of Christian Aid Week.
Except that, obviously (in a hand-smacking-head kind of way), I’m not. Hundreds of people have been out over the last week collecting for Christian Aid Week. Thousands of local volunteers have been going door-to-door with little red envelopes for people to give their donations in. During my two-hour collection slot, I met a pensioner who was on her way to meet a friend who had been standing at Marylebone station since 7 o’clock that morning, and was going to be there well into the afternoon. Now that’s commitment.
I’m very grateful to Christian Aid Week – for many reasons, but specifically for showing me that the movement to end poverty isn’t a team of young professionals sitting in an office in Waterloo. It isn’t even the regional teams working hard across the UK. It’s much, much wider than that.
It’s the mother who has been collecting red envelopes since she was a little girl. It’s the pensioner that was up at 7am shaking buckets. It’s the man who told me, “I don’t have much, I’m sorry” and then gave me all that was in his pocket. It’s the children taking part in fundraising bridge walks. It’s the man from Sierra Leone who has given up a good job in America to work with his community in Gbap. It’s the student lobbying his local MP to campaign for tax justice. It’s the countless churches that pray faithfully for Christian Aid and the people that we work with. It’s all of the hundreds of thousands – if not millions – of people who have given even the smallest amount of their time, money or prayers to Christian Aid and organisations like us over the last six decades.
That’s pretty inspiring, and pretty humbling. I am privileged enough to be part of a movement that’s been going since before my parents were born. I get to join in the biggest fight this world has ever seen – the fight against poverty. We truly are a collective – and together, we’re ending poverty. How great is that?!