When I told fellow environmental volunteer Annemarie it was Make a Difference Day she joked "... in a good way....or a bad way?". When my five year old volunteers to wash the dishes she certainly 'makes a difference' but the fact she's volunteering to wash the dishes gives me hope!
Annemarie and I were in Cuthill Park along with Jan, Tom, Laura, Katie, Nigel, Emily, Lucy & Georgie clearing space for an edible hedgerow. It was my second stint of volunteering that day as had been working in the Small World in the morning.
When I'm in the fair trade shop, my shift passes quickly, I enjoy a blether with my colleagues and customers, I arrange the beautiful handcrafted goods, make orders....and it is very easy to forget why we are giving our time. Every item we sell has a story:
Every Batsiranai doll sold from our wee shop in Prestonpans, has a twin in Zimbabwe, where it was made. When you buy one of these handmade dolls, you keep one and its twin is given to a needy child from a family affected by HIV/AIDS. The dolls are made by the Batsiranai Mothers Group whose own children have special needs and are often shunned by Zimbabwean society.
The Goonj notepads are made from office waste paper (i.e. documents which have been printed on one side and plain on the other). It is great gift for a Nosey Parker as you never know what you will find on the reverse!
By purchasing one of our carved wooden birds, you can Make a Difference to the Wichi Indians whose way of life is threatened by the relentless advance of 'civilisation'.
The craftspeople themselves Make a Difference; customers choosing to buy ethically Make a Difference, volunteers in not-for-profit organisations Make a Difference.
This afternoon in Cuthill Park, the results of our volunteering were obvious, visual, instantly rewarding. I couldn't tell you which sort of volunteering I like more but I know that volunteering really does Make a Difference.