Did you know that someone around the world dies from malaria every thirty seconds? The fact that 65% of Syrian refugees are children? Or that over 200 species of animals and plants have already migrated north because of global warming?
These are just a few of the struggles people around the world are facing today, but the good news is that people (including twenty-somethings!) can do something to solve them. As you pick out that perfect party dress and pen your long list of New Year’s resolutions, resolve to help someone else in 2013. In big ways and in small, lending a hand can change someone’s life for the better and make yours more fulfilled than ever before–three young ladies have shared their story with us as proof!
Harini Madheswaran – Save the Children of Syria
College sophomore Harini Madheswaran from Illinois proves that you don’t have to have a ton of money or even a lot of volunteers to make an impact. Her mission to help the children of Syria was born earlier in the school year when she saw a news report about the civil war taking place there. While watching, she learned that many children have been innocent victims of the violence.
“There was this really terrible footage of this kid who…didn’t have anything to do with any of it, she was just there–and she was killed. It was a horrible thing,” Harini recalled.
She couldn’t get those horrific images out of her mind, and although she realized there was no way to fix a civil war, she knew there had to be a way to help.
“A friend of mine in high school made t-shirts for St. Jude’s as part of National Honor Society, so I figured if she did that by herself, I could do something like that,” she said.
Soon, Harini had t-shirts designed that read “Give Hope. Give Dreams. Give Life” on the front and “Save the Children of Syria” on the back. Then she created a Facebook page inviting others to purchase them. She chose to donate the proceeds to Save the Children, a nonprofit that is working to help refugees crossing the border into countries surrounding Syria.
“Honestly, if you feel like you want to do something…if you set your mind to it and follow a thought process, then you can do it,” Harini promises.
Ryann Kitchell – Reading Robin
California high school senior Ryann Kitchell is an example of how you can take something you love and use it to help someone else. This summer, she created Reading Robin, a program for teaching area grade school kids about global awareness in both fun and educational ways.
“My mission is to educate children about the environment through nature-focused lesson plans and reading nights,” Ryann explained. “This project is especially close to my heart since it involves reading. Growing up, I spent the majority of my free time glued to a book, so to speak.”
With environmental problems being a key issue in political debate, she felt that children needed to be more educated about the condition of our world and how it affects life. She pitched the idea for Reading Robin when she applied to Youth Ambassadors, a program funded by the US Department of State, Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs. She then created a website, organized a leadership team and gathered volunteers.
“Currently, my time is spent contacting principals and teachers at local elementary schools to gauge interest and arrange meetings in addition to contacting local businesses to solicit donations (books, money, etc).”
So if the struggle of getting a project off the ground is what is holding you back, don’t worry–with patience and tenacity like Ryann, you can make it happen!
Mary Claire McGlynn – NETwork Against Malaria
When Nebraska college sophomore Mary Claire McGlynn and her four sisters sat down to lunch one day, they had no idea that it was going to spark the creation of their nonprofit organization, NETwork Against Malaria.
“We started NETwork in 2007 after meeting a Ugandan priest, Fr. Michael Christopher Mujule. Over lunch, he told us about his people,” Mary Claire explained. “Fr. Mujule’s stories really resonated with my four sisters and me, primarily because he discussed the struggles of the ‘girl child’ in Uganda most.”
Afterwards, they did some research and discovered that malaria is the number one cause of poverty in Uganda. Malaria causes Ugandan children to miss an average of 60 days of school, leading to them falling behind and sometimes dropping out, leaving them in the cycle of poverty. Ultimately, they learned that malaria is preventable–one $10 insecticide-treated malaria bed net protects three children from malaria. They formed NETwork Against Malaria to raise money for those bed nets. Their main source of fundraising is through jewelry sales.
“Our jewelry is made using beads handmade by Ugandan women. They collect old newspapers and magazines, cut them up, roll them in strips, and create beautiful, colorful beads,” Mary Claire said.
The initial goal was to raise $3,500 to buy bed nets for the students at Fr. Mujule’s all-girl school. Today, NETwork has dozens of chapters, thousands of volunteers, and has provided over 15,000 bed nets to people in rural Uganda. Want to be one of those volunteers, or start your own chapter? Visit their website.
Now it’s your turn. A New Year calls for new opportunities, so take 2013 as a chance to help someone else–and make it one of the best years yet!
How do you plan on making a difference in 2013?
Elizabeth is a twenty-year-old college student majoring in Mass Communications with a focus in Journalism and minoring in Creative Writing. She has a love of dancing, chocolate, Taylor Swift, and exploring Barnes and Noble. Other than her dream of being a Radio City Rockette, she aspires to become a magazine journalist and travel the world. Follow her blog at thisizforyou.blogspot.com!
Elizabeth Semko has 5 post(s) on Love Twenty