Why we're diving for World Vision
As part of Remember A Charity In Your Will week, four plucky ladies from our Supporter Care team will be jumping out of a plane to keep company with Brian Phillips - one of our Ambassadors, who will be writing his will mid-air. Our brave women are themselves raising money for children in South Sudan, and as the jump approaches next week, we find out what's motivating them to take the plunge.
Ok, so I am a fifty-fa-la-la-la-year-old grandmother of 10 who has never taken any unnecessary risks in my life. Why now? Why would I want to leap out of a perfectly good plane and plummet, albeit temporarily, towards terra firma? I have a lifelong aversion to fairground rides and often experience travel sickness. But despite all this, I want to do it. I hope that I will enjoy at least part of the experience, but it is really not about me.
Working at World Vision, I have the privilege of being involved in the process of bringing a huge difference to children living in fear. Children just like my grandchildren, but living in almost unimaginable conditions - conditions so far from my own experiences like poverty, war, sexual exploitation and forced enrolment as child soldiers. It is easy to see images on the TV or hear stories of the plight of these children and be moved. However many of these children's stories are left unheard.
I am jumping with my colleagues next week to raise awareness and much needed financial support for the forgotten children of South Sudan. We’ll also be jumping with one of our supporters who will be writing his will mid-air. The week of 7th-13th September is 'remember a charity in your will week'. Making a small change in your will now will mean many children will have lasting hope for the future and their lives can be changed for the better - what a fantastic legacy to leave! My husband Chris is supportive; he drives a private ambulance and promises to bring this along on the 9th September, along with a wet and dry vacuum cleaner, to cover all eventualities!
I have always wanted to do a skydive. I don't have a bucket list per se, but if I did then a skydive would be on it. So when the opportunity arose to do one, for World Vision, and alongside close friends from my team, I couldn't say no. This was despite the immediate sensation of wobbly legs and a slight sinking feeling in my stomach.
I did a bungee jump two years ago. It was never my intention to do one and it was definitely NOT on my imaginary bucket list, but I was travelling and just went with the flow. It was without a doubt the worst thing I've ever done. Every second was horrendous and I couldn't stop shaking for hours afterwards. I have been told that skydiving as an experience is a lot gentler, without the stomach-curdling, hands-shaking, breathless fear bungee-jumping off a bridge induces in you. I very much hope this is true.
I feel honoured that I work for an organisation where there are opportunities to take part in activities such as this for such a wonderful cause. The Supporter Care team are really supportive and many of them will be there on Wednesday to watch us jump. We have also been overwhelmed with well-wishes from World Vision staff (especially when selling sausage sandwiches or bacon butties as part of our fundraising efforts for South Sudan).
Some may say that it is ironic that the skydive is to raise awareness of 'Remember a Charity in Your Will Week,' but I sincerely hope that the build up to this activity has served to do just that. All the money we have raised through our fundraising activities and donations on our Everyday Hero page is for the forgotten children of South Sudan; children who have seen unimaginable horror, children who may not have a safe, warm home to go back to, who may have lost loved ones. It is so important to keep these children in our minds and in our hearts, to remember our mission for every child to live free from fear.
On a personal level, I hope that I come out of this experience with renewed confidence, a greater belief in my abilities, a better perspective on what's important and what doesn't really matter, and the exhilaration afterwards that I didn't experience from my bungee jump. As is written on a Remember a Charity bookmark that I have on my desk, 'you don't have to go to extremes for charity'. But I say, why not?
Since joining World Vision in 2014 I have been inspired by the work we do - this may sound rather biased but I really do enjoy coming to work every day. It's great interacting with the wonderful people who support our work, helping children living in some of the most desperate places in the world. Having worked in Supporter Care for the last year I have been amazed by the generosity and caring attitude of our sponsors. I have spoken to sponsors who have fallen into difficult financial circumstances, suffered great personal loss, faced serious physical battles - yet through their adversity they have continued to support our work and kept sponsoring a child (or in some cases several children).
One of my lasting memories will be of a supporter who knew she was dying and paid in advance for 12 months of sponsorship. When that money was spent and the sponsorship about to end, her daughter contacted us and arranged to take over the sponsorship to continue the great work that her Mum had started.
Having reached a major milestone in my life earlier this year I vowed to accept all challenges offered to me, as long as they weren't illegal or going to kill me. The second category is slightly questionable as I undertake my preparations for the skydive, but I have been assured by a skydiving friend that it is very safe, and less risky than either sailing or horseback riding. We won't be jumping alone as we are doing tandem jumps, and the experts are the most experienced skydivers in the country. I draw much comfort from this fact.
So this is my chance to give something back and do something different to raise money for those forgotten children in South Sudan. It's not always easy to choose a cause to support as there are so many children across the world who need our help, but this is a much neglected cause. These children have experienced hardship that the majority of us will never see in the whole of our lives, when really they just need to be happy, flourishing children. My son is a teenager and he has a roof over his head, his own room, a comfy bed and toys a plenty. He can walk the streets without fearing for his life. The children in South Sudan don't have such luxury; they are hungry, homeless and at risk of disease.
If I can jump out of a plane and make some small difference then it will all be worth it. So when I am floating down to the ground next Wednesday I know the terror I will be feeling will be nothing compared to that of those living in South Sudan. Unlike those children, when I land my fears will be over.
I am a typical yes-person who always signs up for the next opportunity. Doing a skydive has been firmly on my bucket list for a while, so when it became possible to not only do it with fellow colleagues, but also for a worthy cause, I counted myself in.
It would be a lie to say that I am entirely without nerves, but a core team of us have banded together, united in anticipation and with a sense of adventure. We have been so encouraged by the tremendous support we've received from the organisation as well as from family and friends. I am so grateful that we've already doubled our fundraising target and are hoping to gather some more funds in the run up to the day. Several people have called me a bit of a nutter, but I would consider myself crazy NOT to do this. To be able to get an adrenaline kick as well as raise some money is a true privilege and a chance not to be missed.
All donations raised by Sue, Liz, Emily, and Michaela are going towards the South Sudan crisis, with a focus on the forgotten children displaced by the ongoing unrest. They are also jumping with Brian Phillips, one our child sponsors, who is aiming to raise awareness for the Remember a Charity campaign. You don't have to go to extremes to become a living legend - remember World Vision in your Will and help future generations of the world's most vulnerable children. You can find more information about how you could leave a life-changing gift in your will here.