Category Archives: Social Others

Social Changers: The Big Issue

[This blog has since moved to bybethanyjae.com. Head on over to check it out, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised… x]

“The Big Issue Australia is an independent organisation that develops and operates social enterprises and creative, sustainable solutions to homelessness; providing opportunities for homeless and marginalised people to positively change their lives.”

The Big Issue is a major social changer when it comes to the lives of those affected by poverty. Founded by John Bird and Gordon Roddick in London in 1991, it’s since spread to eight countries from varying social climates (Kenya, Korea, South Africa, Taiwan, Japan, Namibia, Ireland and Australia).

In Australia, the main program that they’re known for is The Big Issue Magazine. Released on a fortnightly basis, it’s produced by professional journalists and sold by street vendors – which is what makes this non-profit so special.

The street vendors are what many would consider ‘marginalised’ because of their circumstance. Some are homeless, others have physical disabilities, and others are struggling with addictions; but they all want to improve their lives.

Each magazine only costs $5 with half of the sale going directly to the vendor ($2.50 per issue). And since starting in Australia in 1996, 6 million issues have been sold with vendors receiving $13.2 million.

The vendors are incredible people and if you look at the website, you can read about some of their lives. Check it out here.

Another program the enterprise runs is The Women’s Subscription Enterprise.

Flowing from The Big Issue Magazine, it works on the model where for every 100 magazines subscribed to, a woman is employed. These women are employed by the enterprise to work as Dispatch Assistants, sorting, collating and inserting magazines. But more than that, they are given opportunities to receive training and ways to develop their skills in a great environment. Learn more about it here.

They’ve also started a community initiative called the Street Soccer Program.

With a simple mission: “To use sport as a means to promote social inclusion and personal change for homeless, marginalised and disadvantages people, creating healthier communities.” Participants are able to make friends, get fit and healthy in the process, receive support and advice, find employment, and become part of a community. [Note: Watch the video below on it, amazing.]

The last program run by the enterprise is The Big Issue Classroom.

With the purpose of breaking the stereotypes surrounding homelessness, students learn about not only about it, but also have their level of social awareness developed. This is done through lesson plans, excursions, and the opportunity to hear from someone whose experienced homelessness.

The Big Issue Enterprise is a great social changer. They value, educate, provide, support, encourage, and include those that society may have otherwise overlooked or ignored.

Next time you’re in the city and see a vendor, how about you stop, smile, chat to them for a bit, and buy a magazine (or two). That’s how simple it is to make a difference in their life.

“The Big Issue Australia is proudly non-judgemental and welcoming to all, treating all people with dignity and respect, and promoting independence and self-reliance”.

What Does Making A Difference In The World Look Like?

[This blog has since moved to bybethanyjae.com. Head on over to check it out, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised… x]

‘Make A Difference In The World’ seems to be a catchphrase in the world lately. And it’s something that has resonated deeply within me for some time now. Going into 2012 though, my focus on it changed. Last night I began thinking and was challenged with the thought of: what does making a difference in the world actually look like? Here are my thoughts. I hope it challenges and inspires you like it challenged and inspired me…

WHAT DOES MAKING A DIFFERENCE IN THE WORLD LOOK LIKE?

Being a light where the darkness dwells. Because even the smallest of lights begins to scare off what can seem like the deepest of the darkest.

Oozing grace to every person you come in contact with because they deserve it; despite what they may portray or how they may make you feel. And if you think that’s unfair, think about what John Henry Newman once said: “The way God gives His grace is scandalous.”

Spreading Hope where hearts have despaired.

Outstretching both hands and using all of your might to help pick up those who cannot pick up themselves.

Being strategically generous.

Partnering action to the dreams that God embedded in your being and whispered in your ear. No dream in a heart is pointless, what’s pointless is if you neglect to see why it was put in your heart to begin with.

Opening your mouth and speaking for the unempowered and those whose freedom to speak for themselves has been unjustly taken from them.

Speaking life and encouragement. Realising that words have the ability to not only plant seeds into the essence of a person’s soul, but to also water them. Will yours produce a lush, green rainforest, or dried up thistle and weeds?

Getting the revelation that going to Church on Sunday isn’t enough, but being the Church every day is our mandate on this earth.

Acquiring a faith so contagious, sweet, and real that people can’t help but be drawn to the One who fuels it.

Having eyes that don’t just look, but that see the present and what the future could be. And when they see a problem, they realise that it’s their responsibility and opportunity to restore and revive – for that’s why they noticed it.

In a world full of anguish and worry, be a statement of peace that calms the stormiest of seas in someone’s heart.

And love. Love like you’ve never known hate. And love because that’s the common thread we all have in our lives. Once we experience love and begin to give it out, it becomes deeper. The threads then begin to weave tighter pulling everyone together, making a masterpiece that’s beautiful and hard to break. Because love unites and love includes. To love and be loved is the purest form of making a difference in this world. 

This is what making a difference in the world looks like to me. It’s beautiful, it’s wholesome, it’s purposeful, it’s influential, it’s practical, it has to make our hands dirty from doing the work, but it’s doable…. And it begins with me.

PHILIPPINES TRIP: The Center For Change (Orphanage)

[This blog has since moved to bybethanyjae.com. Head on over to check it out, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised… x]

Whilst in the Philippines, I had the privilege of spending two days and one night at The Center For Change (an orphanage founded by Margaret Pashley). Here’s just a brief post about it….

MONDAY, 5 DECEMBER: Day + Night (& my 21st Birthday)

On our way to CFC (thought we were all going to die at one point though - driving is VERY different to in Australia...)

After arriving and putting our things in our room (8 people + a Ning came), we were allocated to a ‘house’. There are about 10 houses with each housing between 10-12 children (same gender), a house parent, and in some cases even a social worker or staff person. Here we ate lunch with them and got to know them a bit. Their lunch consisted of rice and fish. A roster is created every week assigning all the children in the house to different duties including making meals and cleaning.

Taken by a girl. They LOVE Christmas!

The day I was there, Josephine was assigned to cleaning after lunch. She’s only 5-years old, knows very little English, and went about her business with the broom by sweeping and tidying up not only the kitchen and dining area, but also the living room and front porch. She swept until it was totally clean, and then went on playing. Josephine is a real sweetie. At first it was hard to communicate with her because of the language barrier, but once she warmed up she always seemed to be there with a smile and holding your hand.

Josephine (5 years old)

After lunch we spent a few hours in the school. Each student has their own desk and a white flag. If they need help, they simply place the flag in the holder, you walk over to them and ask: “Can I help you?” Usually they’ll just ask if they can go and score their work, other times they’ll ask for help with their spelling, and even maths.

One of the boys I went over to needed help with spelling (I LOVE spelling!) What I didn’t know though was that the boy was dyslexic, and having an Australian accent simply didn’t help him. He ended up giggling and calling the teacher over, to which the teacher explained the situation and said that he’ll carry on doing the spelling words with him. If I can be completely honest… it kind of crushed my pride. Spelling was always the highlight of my education life, but to then be dismissed of it because of my accent… well, it just seemed ridiculous.

Not long after though, the teacher came over to me and asked if I could help an older girl with her spelling – she’s really good at it and wanted to be challenged by having a different accent say the words (found it to be a slightly funny reason, but was so stoked to do spelling!).

School Desk

After school finished, we spent a lot of time playing outside with the children. They are all absolutely adorable, too much fun, and incredibly cheeky. One of the girls, Joan (Jo-an, like Joanne), even taught me Waray Waray and then insisted on testing me on the things she had just taught me. Example: ‘erron’ means nose.

A letter, picture + bracelet from Joan. x

We then had dinner at the house we were assigned to. This time it was easier because the children were now more familiar with us, and we were more familiar with them. We played Uno, catch, and just hung out. Some of the older girls and the house parent decorated the front door. They had some wood strips outlining a star, and with strips of plastic bag (coloured red and yellow), they tied it around it. Sounds silly, but it actually looked very pretty with the fairylights running through it. Simple and effective.

They also sang happy birthday to me at dinner. So cute.

One of the kiddies took this photo

Playing catch with these two girlies.

Jijibel - adorably cute laugh (tried to upload a video of her, but it wouldn't work...)

TUESDAY, 6 DECEMBER: The whole team arrives

Today the rest of the team arrived. School was cancelled and the day was dedicated to sports and games. Everyone was allocated into teams and away we went. There’s no point writing about it all because photographs tell the story much better:

Giving bracelets to all the children.

Praying for Mel who stays at the CFC for two more weeks, then is off to a Thailand orphanage. What a world changer 🙂

Friendships were formed & lives were touched.

A letter from Juan Miguel 🙂

Spending time at The Center For Change was incredible. Seeing how they live, what they eat, what they’re taught, and how they interact with one another was simply incredible. The politeness and respect oozes out of them, and I don’t think I’ve ever been called ‘maam’ or ‘ate Beth’ as much as I was over those two days.

You also saw the practical need and reality. Without going into too much detail, those two days literally changed the path of my life forever. So grateful.

Notes about Center For Change:

– Their entire water supply turns off at 6am and turns back on around 1pm. So either have your shower at night, or super early in the morning.

– There are 20 aid workers there

– CFC is working towards becoming self-sufficient

– They currently have a bakery but are on the lookout for a baker to come over and train them so that they can become proficient and utilise the equipment properly

Why go there? Because we have a world to change…

But Integrity Doesn’t Do That…

[This blog has since moved to bybethanyjae.com. Head on over to check it out, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised… x]

in·teg·ri·ty / noun /inˈtegritē/ The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness . The state of being whole and undivided . The condition of being unified, unimpaired, or sound in construction.

Integrity is one of those things that no one can have too much of, but you can definitely have too little of. And it’s been making me think and assess my heart a lot lately.

The first week of July I went to Hillsong Conference in Sydney. One of the sessions that has stuck with me ever since was with the legendary Nicky Gumbel who spoke on unity.

During this session he gave a phenomenal illustration that actually blew my thinking out of the water, and changed the way I view life and people completely.

He said (paraphrased) we’re the Body of Christ. If someone speaks badly or gossips about someone, they’re just punching themselves in the face, or stamping on their own foot; they’re simply hurting themselves. How? Because we’re the one Body. Whatever you do to someone else you’re really doing to yourself as well.

Wow.

This got me thinking.

Sometimes when we’re so comfortable around certain people, it becomes easy to gossip, and we simply downsize our behaviour to just ‘saying our opinion with the people we trust’.

But integrity doesn’t do that.

Integrity doesn’t share an opinion that tears down someone else’s integrity.

Integrity doesn’t speak negative about someone just because they felt like they could say it in amongst the company they’re in.

Integrity doesn’t stay quiet either.

Integrity protects.

Integrity shows grace and loves people no matter what.

Integrity thinks before they speak because they know that everything they say truly holds weight and influence to all who come in contact with it.

Why? Because we’re all one Body.

Since hearing that message by Nicky Gumbel and adjusting my attitude, I can honestly say that the things about people that used to annoy me simply don’t annoy me anymore.

Did they change? No. But I did.

When you do things motivated by love and others, it truly revolutionises the way you see people, life, and the Church. And it’s then that you realise that integrity isn’t just about what you look like…it’s about what we look like.

“Your life may be the only Bible some people read.” – Author Unknown