WHEN I decided to join Save the Children, so many of those close to me said: "That is so you!"
I get so frustrated when I see children in our country going without a decent education, access to water, regular meals and a safe place to lay their heads down at night. With the technology and resources available to our society, this should no longer be the case.
I have always volunteered my services for a variety of social causes, and I think that working with, and for, those less fortunate than ourselves keeps me grounded. It puts my own life into perspective.
On a daily basis I advocate sustainable change. In fact, the biggest reason I took the job at Save the Children is because I vehemently believe in driving change for the next generations of children.
Sustainable change is very close to my heart and is the only way we can truly move our country forward. As the CEO of this organisation I have to ensure that all our programmes, which focus on sustainability and children's rights, run smoothly.
I work on creating an environment for our many unsung heroes – those working in programmes on the ground, men, women, mothers, fathers, educators, counsellors and children – to flourish in, so that they can continue helping our children move on to better, brighter futures.
Fundraising is an extremely critical part of my daily routine and even though we rely on large donor organisations and corporates, it is in fact the everyday givers who are the backbone of our fund-raising.
In other words, it's those individuals who give us R100 or R500 per month that are the people I feel accountable to. I often imagine myself having to account to each and every individual as to how I have used their contribution.
From an ethical point of view, this drives me daily to be responsible and ensure that the funds are very well spent.
I live and breathe our cause. I advocate it in everything I do and say. I am constantly sending out messages about our children in need, hoping that these important messages become a part of our society's consciousness.
Do you know that 62% of South Africa's children live in poverty? That is overwhelming. Out of 100 children, 62 are in need. Which one of those 62 children could be a future leader, scientist or humanitarian?
Every one of those kids that fall through the cracks is potentially a loss to our country's future. The biggest challenge for me is knowing that I can never solve the whole problem, but that doesn't mean I will ever stop trying. My sense of pride comes from knowing I am making a difference.
Someone once said to me "as long as there is one human being who has nothing, who is angry and disenfranchised, none of us are safe". This motivates me to continue, no matter what the challenges.
I live for the daily triumphs. Recently, I went to see a crèche we run in KwaZulu-Natal. I was greeted by warmly dressed, well-fed and alert children. They were using old car seats, covered with blankets, as props to sit on, sleep or play.
I was delighted by that innovation, and by the fact that no child there was missing any of the basic fundamentals. The crèche mother had been trained by an accreditation process run by Save the Children, which has created a network of crèche mothers able to support and assist each other.
It's these thousands and thousands of little victories which make it all worthwhile.
When a child who was starving gets a decent meal, or a child who felt unsafe gets to sleep at night and feels the meaning of security, or a child that is not being educated receives the gift of literacy, I know we are doing our job.
Ultimately, we cannot expect children to grow up and become self-sufficient contributors to the greater good of society if they have not had an opportunity to learn and develop, to know safety and the sense of belonging that comes from being part of a community, as well as having access to adequate nutrition.
* Debbie Farnaby is the CEO of Save the Children South Africa. She is the latest guest columnist taking part in Fin24's Women’s Month campaign celebrating women in business. Fin24 welcomes your participation in the campaign. Send your views to email@example.com and you could get published.
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