SpinningTop Manager and humble hustler, Annie Fischer, shares how the year so far has been in their world, what the current political and humanitarian climate is like on the Thai/Burma border where they work, and what’s ahead for the brilliant wee charity.
Since joining the SpinningTop team I am often asked what exactly it is that we do, what does my average work day involve?
At a recent brain storming session with our friends at One Percent Collective I heard someone describe themselves as a hustler and I thought – that’s it! Hustling sums up a major part of what we do.
Most days are spent trying to convince anyone and everyone to help us in return for absolutely nothing! The amazing thing is how generous most people are – we find if they can help you they will.
Our constantly growing list of volunteers who turn up to cut and clean our Defender Bags, the who’s who of NZ Comedians who selflessly take part in our Good Guys Comedy show, and a growing base of regular donors is a testament to the generosity that is out there. To all these awesome people we are endlessly grateful.
A pretty full calendar creates the structure for our year – the annual budget trip, the Comedy Festival, Holiday promotions in the Body Shop (our big daddy major donor). And always the one constant is our goal. We remain committed to helping the children who live in severe poverty due to many diverse factors including war, oppression, and natural disasters.
When SpinningTop evolved the greatest refugee crisis was on the Thai/Burma border so it was the obvious place to go and try to help. Sadly, there are still hundreds of thousands of people living in refugee camps there. While this remains the situation, we will continue to work in the region. Our greatest wish is that one day they make us redundant, that they become self-sufficient and no longer need aid.
Then there are the ‘formal’ requirements of every registered charity, including producing an Annual Report. While this is not as fun as organising our Good Guys Comedy show it does force you to stop and have a recap of the past year. It can be quite revealing, and on reflection, we feel everyone who has helped us should feel quite proud.
A few interesting things came out of this year’s report. Once again education projects dominated our spending. This is so important in a part of the world where the barriers to getting even a basic education are massive. We are trying to make learning possible in what is simply a very difficult environment. Even if it is just gaining a few gardening or basic hygiene skills.
It is the rainy season at the moment so even getting to school is a hassle, wading through the mud. But education is seen as the secret to escaping poverty and the children we meet are hungry for it.
We definitely subscribe to the philosophy of ‘Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.’
A donation that is equivalent to the price of a basic pencil case or a ruler and pencil can educate a child for around a month – including their food! This is a country where the NZ dollar goes a crazily long way.
As Myanmar once again makes the headlines with the humanitarian crisis in Rakhine State and the persecution of the Rohingya population we are reminded just how fragile this country is. There have been outbreaks of fighting all over the country in the past year. The great optimism that swept the nation with the election of Nobel Peace prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi is rapidly fading. The forgotten communities still desperately need all the help they can get.
So as always, we remain indebted to all those who allow us to be a lifeline there. To everyone who has supported us through committing to regular giving, attending a fundraising event, volunteering their time or buying one of our products. Thank you.
We will continue to get more children back to school, and we will keep up the hustling.
Words by Annie Fischer, SpinningTop Manager.
SpinningTop gives balance to vulnerable children living in poverty. If you'd like to join their crew of regular supporters who enable them to make amazing things happen, join up with One Percent Collective and support them with your 1%.