just-one strives to actively promote and facilitate educational opportunities for disadvantaged and marginalized children in Nepal by working at a grass-roots level with the children, their families and their communities to implement a range of carefully developed, culturally sensitive, sustainable initiatives.

When Billi ran Rome!

Written by Declan on March 23rd, 2014 Categories: Blogroll, Fund-raising, General, Latest | there are 2 Comments »

There are few more effective ways to assist just-one‘s important work in Kathmandu than to help us raise the funds continually needed for our ongoing success. Whether it’s the once-off donations we graciously receive from those who generously support our work, or the regular contributions that our more ardent supporters kindly sign up to, it all culminates in empowering our small team of dedicated staff here in Nepal to continue engaging in their unending efforts, reaching out to evermore children and helping them build happier and more secure futures for themselves.

School students organising quiz nights, cake sales, loose-change collections and crazy-hair days; adult supporters holding coffee mornings, fashion shows, dinner parties and sponsored cycles; newly-weds selflessly requesting donations to just-one rather than wedding gifts from those attending their special day and proud parents too, kindly doing similar to celebrate the arrival of a new member to the family; companies, large and small, generously contributing in cash or in kind and their staff associations sometimes clubbing together to do likewise… These are just a few random examples of the various ways in which our small but loyal army of supporters continues to help us do what we do!

Would you like to visit Billi's website and kindly support her wonderful fund-raising initiative in aid of just-one?

Where’s Billi? A photo from 2012′s Maratona di Roma (found here)

As I type these lines, there’s one such endeavour under-way on the cobbled streets of Rome – across which our dear friend, Billi Bierling, in Bib # 1024, is amongst over 19,000 runners currently 3 hours into the 20th Maratona di Roma, on what looks like a potentially stormy day in the Italian capital. Some weeks back now, Billi very kindly agreed to allow her March 23rd marathon run double as an awareness raising / fund-raising opportunity for just-one and has, so far, managed to raise in excess of €4,500 via this page on her climbing website!! Perhaps you’d be so kind as to help her out with this trojan effort by visiting her page and kindly contributing to her very welcome initiative in aid of our work. I’ve no doubt that Billi would really appreciate it and I can assure you that all at just-one would too!

Or maybe Billi’s marvellous undertaking will simply inspire you to do something similar over the weeks, months and years ahead and help keep just-one moving forward, progressing from year to year and helping more and more children through the myriad of challenges they each bravely face on a bay-to-day basis, here amidst an ever-troubled Nepal. Huge thanks to those of you who’ve already contributed in whatever way to the still unfolding story of just-one and, for the day that’s in it, a very special word of thanks to Billi Bierling and her own army of loyal and generous friends who’ve kindly helped make this most recent instance of support as valuable as it has most certainly been.

*** Race Result ***

In news just in, we’re delighted to share that Billi successfully completed her marathon in a time of 04:05:03. The total she has so far managed to raise stands at a very impressive €4,645 and we’re hopeful that this figure will rise further still before Billi returns to Kathmandu… Here’s the link again to Billi’s fundraising page if you’d like to kindly help make that happen! ;o)

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Money Matters

Written by Declan on March 14th, 2014 Categories: Latest | no comments so far. write your own »

Anyone not based in Ireland would be forgiven for knowing nothing about the public outcry there in recent months over the scandalous revelations of obscene salaries being commanded by the CEOs of some of the country’s larger charitable bodies. The sheer level of disgust and anger at the seemingly shameless sense of entitlement with which many of these CEOs greedily availed of funds that had been raised for the benefit of the various causes for which they worked, has the very real potential of doing very serious damage to the fund-raising capacity of all charitable operations in Ireland – not just the guilty giants. I don’t think the justifiable anger was caused solely by the fact that some of these CEOs were earning in excess of what many of our over-paid politicians continue to reward themselves with, but more the blatant lies, deceit and half-truths that permeated the protracted public enquiry which made headlines almost every day for months since last November.

The whole scandal prompted me to write this article for the February issue of the West Cork People (a local monthly newspaper through which I try to keep just-one‘s original supporters informed of the work they kindly empower us to undertake) and feel I’d better take the opportunity to share it on this here blog before another lexical drought sets in! I could certainly be accused of being a stupid idealist for refusing to take a regular salary from the funds I raise for just-one‘s work but, as I outlined in the article, it’s not that I haven’t wanted (or more importantly – needed) to be paid, but have simply remained stubbornly insistent that any payment I might receive can not come from our regular project funds – which are raised from people like you who generously donate some of their hard-earned cash to help make the world a better place. Maybe if the CEOs implicated in these recent improprieties had held even remotely similar reservations about where the funds for their excessive salaries and golden-handshake retirement packages were actually being sourced, then the whole top-ups scandal might never have even happened.

Screen-shot of West Cork People's website featuring just-one's article published in February

A recent article written for February’s edition of the West Cork People

It’s been overly idealistic of me, perhaps, and the economic downturn of the last few years certainly hasn’t helped us recruit any more than a few corporate donors for the specific purpose of paying me a wage, but I’ve simply done what I felt was right and I’m still hopeful there are folks out there who’d be happy to contribute if only they were asked. If that might, by chance, be you then consider yourself asked and know that I’m not even looking for minimum wage! Actually, as I outline in the article above, I’ve never been convinced by the “we have to offer pay on par with the commercial sector” argument that’s often put forward by the big guns of the non-profit world and honestly believe that anyone wanting the salary of a corporate CEO should throw their hat in the ring of multinational recruitment and see how well they fare… Surely if they’re of ‘that calibre’ they’ll be comfortably seated in some plush boardroom in time for their next jumbo-sized pay cheque… no?

Anyway, I suppose the main point of all this is to simply reassure our past and current supporters (and perhaps assure a few new ones too) that just-one‘s an organisation which will always endeavour to ensure that whatever financial assistance we receive will be spend in the most cost-effective and appropriate manner for the benefit of the children and families we continue to work here in Nepal. If you’ve been involved in supporting our work in any way in the past, then you can feel proud of what you’ve helped us achieved to date – like 4 kids who are mere weeks away from completing their second-level education. If you haven’t yet supported us but think you might like to, then know that whatever you might choose to donate here will be hugely appreciated by all at just-one and will be central to the continued success of our our important work.

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Danced with the devil

Written by Declan on February 17th, 2014 Categories: Blogroll, Fund-raising, General, Latest, Their Stories | there is 1 Comment »

Though just shy of seven years old at the time, Kabita was working full-time as a live-in servant for a wealthy family when she first came to the attention of just-one back in 2006. Having found her older brother living on the street some months previously, when reuniting him with his family, we discovered that the poverty stricken parents had accepted the offer rent-free accommodation in a riverside shack, in return for their daughter’s domestic service at the landlord’s 3-storied home. I recall seeing the adorable gap-toothed smile she happily shared despite her hardships and wondering how anyone could force a child so young to work such long and difficult days…

As is the way of just-one, we immediately extended our offer of assistance to Kabita as well, encouraging her parents to allow us support her education too and not merely her brother’s. We were obviously delighted when they agreed but, sadly, I can’t say any of us were hugely surprised when the landlord evicted the family within a week of us rescuing little Kabita from the life of servitude she’d lived for more than a year of her short life. Having already anticipated that this was likely to happen though (easily done when you consider the probable character of someone who’d willing exploit a child in this manner), we were prepared and successfully supported the family in finding alternative accommodation where they’ve happily raised their children since.

In the years that followed, with the continued generosity of those who kindly contribute to our important work,  just-one has maintained the regular contact we’ve found to be absolutely necessary to ensure our support is of truly effective benefit for those we work with. As you might expect, there have been various problems encountered over the years by many of these children and families, which have required the careful attention of our incredibly dedicated staff to find appropriate and lasting resolutions. I doubt that many of these issues are a whole lot different from those which the average parent faces in simply doing their best to raise happy and confident children, but know too that some of them, here amidst the cruel chaos of poverty, are the stuff of nightmares that most parents would simply dread to imagine for their own children.

The particular issue I want to deal with here, highlights just how fine a line there is between the happy and secure futures we strive to help the children we work with to create for themselves, and the drastically altered lives almost completely devoid of hope we sometimes find them unwittingly flirting with…

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Kabita now enjoys attending a cultural dance centre daily after school.

Thankfully, the just-one social worker tasked with the monthly follow-up support visits to Kabita, her brother and their family, noticed early on that there was something amiss with the now 14 year old girl who had previously been an eager student. Her uncharacteristically poor attendance at school and some crucial snippets of information from a watchful and protective brother combined to help us quickly discover that Kabita was coming under the increasing influence of some older girls in her locality, who had been tasked with grooming her into joining their work at a local dance bar.

Despite the understandably immaturity you’d expect from someone her age, it was nevertheless frighting to witness how dangerously close Kabita’s youthful naivety and innocent passion for dance had actually brought her to the brink of a much darker future. There were more than a few scary weeks where, seduced by the deceptive generosity of these ‘friends’, Kabita spent a lot of her time at this dance bar and risked slipping totally beyond our reach. Thankfully, the close and trusting relationship our staff establish with those we work with, played a significant role in eventually allowing us to successfully counteract the negative influence of her dance bar ‘friends’ and their insidious efforts to lure an impressionable Kabita into the same dark existence in which they’d sadly become ensnared.

Now back on track, Kabita’s only a little over a month away from embarking upon her Class 8 studies and preparing for the District Level exams she’ll face at the end of the academic year. Hopefully the valuable lessons she’s learned from this whole recent episode will stand to her in and help her avoid similar dangers in the future. just-one‘s intervention in this particular case highlighted for us the benefit of having occasional access to a safe and caring environment for children we support, like Kabita, for whom the facilities at our transit home wouldn’t be quite appropriate.

In this regard, and with the very kind assistance of the fantastic house-mother who has worked with us since mid 2009, we’re now in the process of now formally developing the additional ‘safe house’ setting without which we may not have been successful in helping Kabita over these last few months. The idea is simply to be in a position to offer a low-capacity foster home type environment where we can keep up to two or three children at a time under the watchful care of our trusted house-mother – already lovingly known to dozens of children as ‘Amma’.

We’ve calculated that the initial set-up cost of such a facility is likely to be no more than €500 and will require an additional €200 to €250 per month to operate thereafter. Having already seen the life-changing difference it allowed us to make to Kabita’s life, we’re absolutely certain that it’s a worthwhile investment and hope that some of you who’ve read this far might be willing to lend us some much needed support by visiting our ‘Make a Donation’ page and choosing the method of giving that best suits your particular circumstances. Like those who have already generously empowered us to carry out this vitally important work to date, and indeed those who continue to do so on a regular basis, you can rest assured whatever support you might kindly choose to provide us with will be very much appreciated by all at just-one and will, perhaps, help further prove our motto that it doesn’t take much to make a difference.

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