Why giving back is good for your heart and mind

This week we celebrate International Women’s Day so it is perfect the inspiring Alison joins us again. Alison is a woman full of gratitude and a giving heart, wanting to make the world a better place. She is doing that through the 100 Hungry Hearts project, which empowers women and their villages in Ethiopia. Read on to find out more and how you can also be part of change…

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Alison in glam mode.

I am no expert when it comes to the human mind or body. I personally can’t stand the sight of blood and I am a sympathetic vomiter (not too sure how I am going to go when my nephew is born in May!). All I know for sure is that we humans are a complicated bunch 😉

As a young tacker, I was always trying to help save the world. I tried saving the whales through the Greenpeace petitions (back then you had to get ACTUAL signatures), the 40 hour famine and donating to my local Salvation Army man who would fundraise at our local shops for hours on end.

Then as I started to venture into being a ‘grown up’ trying to find my place in the world, that little spark got lost in adulthood and responsibilities!

I lost that little spark for many years. I placed more importance on succeeding at work, buying designer clothes and living comfortably. I thought about that little spark a lot but didn’t value it enough to listen.

In hindsight, I realise that my little spark was in fact my heart screaming at me to find something that I could contribute to in the world. Yes. I have a wardrobe packed to the brim of beautiful shoes and clothes (still trying to fit back into some) and a house I love coming home to everyday (it’s ALL mine!). Don’t get me wrong, I am so grateful for everything that I have. But these things, I have learnt, don’t always give you the happiness you think they will.

When I joined Business Chicks last year, I started to connect with women all around the country. Their stories and journeys amazed me. I would often head into work after an event with a heavy heart. While I love what I do and work with some of the most amazing people I have ever met, I realised that I had used work as an excuse to not live the best life I can. It was through Business Chicks that I learnt about the work of The Hunger Project Australia. In May I will embark on a life changing experience, that will see me travel to Uganda and witness first-hand the great work of this organisation.

Since starting my fundraising efforts, the most common question I have had is “What does The Hunger Project do?” Most people have not heard about the organisation nor the principles and values that guide their work.

Business Chicks and The Hunger Project Australia believe in the same thing – supporting and developing women leaders and creating a space for women to connect and make a difference in the world.

What I love most about the work they do is the focus on self-determination. Unlike other organisations, The Hunger Project Australia’s Epicentre Strategy is part of an integrated and holistic approach that sees 10,000 – 15,000 villagers (from a cluster of villages) inspired to meet their own basic needs. At the physical centre of the ‘epicentre’ is a building that houses the community’s programs for health, education, food security and economic development. This includes medical services, a school, water and a bank. Investors (this is where me and the 19 other fabulous women come in) help pay for the materials, structural engineers etc. The villagers build it themselves – brick by brick!

It sounds so basic doesn’t it? We take these simple things for granted every…single…day! In my own life, when I took some time to stop and contemplate how lucky I really was, a wave of emotions and gratitude quickly followed. Fast forward to today and I am over half way to raising my target of $10,000 and embarking on the most exciting, crazy, scary adventure of my life!

But none of this would have happened, had life not taken a different journey two years ago. I didn’t realise at the time but life had to fall apart for me to get to where I am today. For the first time ever, I can say with an open heart, I am so grateful for what the last two years has taught me. And I continue to be overwhelmed by the generous support of my fellow human beings.

My first fundraising event is this Thursday 5 March. The support has been truly humbling. From those people supporting me through ticket sales, to those who have donated prizes – I am speechless! I was worried I would only sell 10 tickets – I have 55 people coming!

I still have tickets available for anyone who would like to come along and support the event. I promise it will be a night of fun, good food and festivities. You can contact me at 100hungryhearts@gmail.com.au or check out the Facebook event page.

And while I still have a little way to go on my personal journey, my practice of daily gratitude continues..Strength doesn’t come from what you can do. It comes from overcoming the things you thought you couldn’t.

You can read more about the journey I am embarking on through the Business Chicks/The Hunger Project Australia Immersion and Leadership Programme here

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Emma

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