Did you know that Gandhi was engaged when he was 7?
Yep. Gandhi. One of the most influential men ever. Family man. Revolutionary. Potty trainer extraordinaire.
How on earth did he do it all?
Between 1914 and 1948, Mohandas Gandhi led a peaceful resistance, helped craft a country of 1.3 billion, and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize five times (FIVE!).
He also got married when he was 13.
He lost his first child when he was 16.
Whenever I feel like my kids and the laundry and all the things are holding me back from accomplishing my dreams, I think of Gandhi and kind of…cringe. Because…he had a family. He had a wife. He had all of the things and yet he led a revolution.
Sooo…clearly it is possible for us home-owning, children-having, insanely busy people to do amazing things.
We just have to find our type.
A Path to the Crossroads
The problem we’re all now facing is that it’s so damned hard to fit community service into our ridiculously busy lives. And the old-fashioned model of volunteering and changing the world just doesn’t work with the world today. Traditionally, we could either volunteer at our kid’s school, hire a babysitter and volunteer at a nonprofit, or fill up our vacation time with volunteer work.
And then we find that the PTO doesn’t actually feed our souls. And the day we got a babysitter the nonprofit forgot that we were coming. And when we finally, FINALLY decide to do something phenomenal and spend thousands of dollars going on a voluntour vacation, we find out that the organization we went through was actually running a human trafficking orphanage.
How can we possibly lead a meaningful life when the options to do so just don’t work??
The 3 Types of Charitable Action
Type #1: Just Give Money.
Ohhhh, the money game. This is an option. But…Don’t you hate those nonprofits that tell you they just want your money?? Because we already donate to charity – to the tune of $389 billion in America alone. We want to do more. We were made to do more. Because money without service doesn’t feed our souls – and who knows what’s actually being done with that money, anyway.
Type #2: Give Up & Wait for Retirement.
After all, what can one person do? We’ve all had that sneaking, conniving thought. And after a couple of crazy volunteer experiences, apathy really is an easy choice. Yet Ghandi showed us that one person can change the world. And he also demonstrated a deeper truth – that, in fact, it is often at these places – the places where real, crazy, hectic busy life intersects with the desperation of humanity – that the advances, the change, the movements are made. As I’ve said elsewhere, apathy – not hate – is the opposite of love. Giving up lets the bad guys win. The huge leaps forward are made when those of us in the thick of it “find ourselves in the service of others.”
Type #3: Dig In – On Our Timeline.
Here’s where we find the crossroads – and where you and I meet. Because three years ago, out of sheer desperation from yet another ridiculous volunteer experience, we created this company called Aina, whose sole purpose is to help you find that crossroads. To help you fit service into your already busy life. To help you get connected with the most amazing, world-changing, innovative nonprofits. To convince those nonprofits to start making creative pathways for people to get involved, at home, on their own time. To help you grow and serve a bigger community – because that’s what you were made to do.
How About an Example?
One of our Aina-approved organizations, Stahili Foundation, is doing phenomenal work to pull children out of human trafficking orphanages and put them back with loving families. They work day and night on the ground in Kenya with children, parents, guardians, government, community leaders, chiefs, and elders to stop child enslavement country-wide and to give all children in orphanages what they deserve — a family. Their work is so amazing that they’ve been featured on CNN’s The Freedom Project as an example of an organization that’s changing the world.
And you can meet them at the crossroads. Because we’ve created a path for you to help these vulnerable children in a sustainable way – without quitting your day job.
Make Something Meaningful – From Home
There’s something that these vulnerable families need: the pencil cases and school supplies to give their children an education. Often these “orphanages” promise education to the parents – which is a powerful hook for families.
So stand in that gap. Make them the pencil case they need. Change the course of their lives. Get your Pencils for Hope Project and take action to be the difference between a loving family and a life in a cage for tourists. Join in and build a powerful community – because that’s what builds our souls.
Carmen Westbrook is the CEO and co-founder of Aina Giving, a socially responsible company that makes charity easy. Carmen spends most of her days drinking coffee (she lives in Rome, it’s mandatory) and developing Aina’s at-home volunteer projects and parties for highly screened, trusted nonprofit charities. Read More about Aina here.