As a part of all the trainings and workshops I have given on social justice and advocacy I always include a component of storytelling. This is an example of mine but you might like to adopt something similar. Importantly it is about a particular point in your life and doesn’t have to be about being overseas or something shocking, just something personal. I have been extremely privileged to hear hundreds of these stories and there is no one style that should exist.
Guidelines for the best kind of Your Story blog:
- 200-1000 words (about 300-600 words usually works best)
- 3-5 pictures or photos to support your story
- Content should be one personal experience either explaining why you care about social justice, poverty or similar issues – again it does not need to be a sad story or from a particular place, it just needs to be personal then refined and written
- Please make sure you do this, the advocacy of your story will be important and can be heard far and wide – we need to engage people with what is happening around the world and continue understanding and action for eradicating extreme poverty
- We will have a space to put these stories so if you have one please send it me as a word document and we’ll get it up soon – firstname.lastname@example.org
- Remember this is also a story to be told and share this with your family, friends, community and beyond!
- As an example please see below of my story
Have a go and hope to see or hear your story somewhere sometime!
Example of my personal story (this is my personal experience from a developing country but I have other stories from Australia, reading books, etc…)
Social justice and wanting to do something about it is something that I came to understand when…
I first volunteered in Kyrgyzstan and Mongolia and then moved on to South Korea.
I love a hike like the rest of us and it lead me to Kyrgyzstan where I thought I’d also do a spot of volunteering on the side. In that trip I didn’t climb many mountains but I leant and discovered richness of life through my experiences volunteering.
I was 23, the perfect age to get married in Kyrgyzstan, working with peers (pictured here with Jyldyz on my left with Nargiza and others, including Jyldyz’s grandmother) who mother’s wanted me to marry them! They were young highly-educated professional women who spoke the Queen’s English and were university lecturers in English. The income for these women was the equivalent of 20 US dollars a month, which placed them in the bracket of extreme poverty, even at that time in 2001. This meant they had to grow their own food, not expect hot water till after it snowed the second time and other such ways of life but I learn so much from these women about resilience and resourcefulness and loved adapting to that way of life – learning all the time.
From Kyrgyzstan I then travelled through Kazakhstan, where I didn’t meet Borat, and went on to Mongolia for another spot of volunteering as this soon took over as my passion from my mountain climbing. The salary for the teachers here was around 35 US dollars a month – just above the extreme poverty line. It was strange being in a place so much more developed than Kyrgyzstan, not what we would always think when we think of Mongolia. But again it was the lessons learnt on life from the people that struck me the most.
Anyway I continued on to South Korea where I had to make some money to fund my volunteering. I knew I wasn’t in a developing country any longer when I went for a hike as I like to do and at the top of the mountain was an ice cream vending machine – this was in a country that was one of the world’s poorest 50 years before.
Here in South Korea my salary was the equivalent of 40 US dollars for… one… hour. I remember at the end of my first week of teaching there where I was going to have some income for nice food, go to the movies and things like this. But at the moment I received my money in my hand it really hit me. Why? Why does the world work like this? I wasn’t more educated than Jyldyz and my friends in Kyrgyzstan, I wasn’t working any longer or harder and the injustice of it really struck me. Why should I have the access or opportunity and others not.
That night after receiving my salary I thought about it without sleep until the next day. That day I sent most of that money to Jyldyz and the other teachers. It might have made a small difference for a while but it never answered the question of Why? or the injustice of the world.
And since then I have been extremely fortunate to travel for the past 11 years to over 50 countries either learning from and working with the people in developing countries or representing them when I’m in developed countries.
So when I can’t be in developing countries working with the people I love to represent them as they can’t be in developed countries to represent themselves and be heard. I also know that there are 1.4 billion others like Jyldyz which for me is 1.4 billion reasons to be involved and do what I can to see an end to extreme poverty.
Experiences like this have taught me that people are not poor because they’re lazy or because they accept poverty as inevitable. The poor people I’ve met, like Jyldiz, work incredibly hard. They have hopes and dreams, concerns and challenges just like us.
It taught me that the poor are people just like us and extreme poverty is something you are mostly born into. However since being involved in the solution I know there are incredibly effective ways to support people to support themselves out of extreme poverty.
Following this passion it has also taught me that that we are truly interconnected as a global community. The actions I take in my own community are just as powerful, meaningful and effective than when I am working in partnership with people in developing countries. This can even include riding a bike and sharing my experiences and the good people doing good things to see an end to extreme poverty.
The big lesson in all of this is that any action, even just small actions, multiplied by lots of people will equal…