Having lunch with some relatives recently, my uncle mentioned he was thinking of doing some voluntary work.Â
He runs a successful small business and there is no doubt that some of his skills and experienced would be valuable to a charity or NGO of some sort.Â
My advice was that he should look into the idea and then his skills could then be matched to an organisation that needs them.Â
Several monthsâ€™ previously, I mentioned someone else to whom Iâ€™d spoken who had â€˜time on his handsâ€™ â€“ another successful businessman, (although who had retired) and it struck me that he probably had skills and experience that would benefit an organisation as well.Â
Reading through some media job descriptions recently, I noticed one or two companies whose employee benefits include charity days, for which I believe staff are paid, but can do voluntary work on those days.Â Â
Imagine what could be achieved if every company did thisâ€¦
This afternoon I had a telephone interview with Paul Oâ€™Hara of Ashoka Ireland.
Although I have not made the shortlist for the Ashoka Ireland fellowship, it was a pleasure to describe the short history of the 4Basra project and enlighten Paul as to the direction I hope it will take.Â
The interview was by no means a waste of time; quite the opposite in fact. PaulÂ was kind enough to suggest how I might find a mentor.
What are the qualities needed in a suitable mentor?
This should be someone entrepreneurial who has startup experience – which doesn’t necessarily have to be in the non-profit sector.
They need to have encountered similar issues and problems to those I will face.
And the mentoring process shouldn’t be time consuming for either one of us. Paul, for example mentioned that he arranged to meet his mentor once a month for breakfast.
When I get a moment I will be able to research these organisations further and think about approaching them.
The trip to Vienna went well. The New Internationalist magazine might be interested in a small article about the organisation. Follow-up calls will tell whether anyone else will publish a piece about the organisation.Â
My hotel lacked a wi-fi connection, and I neglected to take any photos with my camera phone.Â One or twoÂ others taken withÂ a digital camera will be on here when I have had a chance to compress them. Anyhow, I have now decided to embrace the digital photography age properlyÂ and purchase a digital camera very soon.
Â I am happy to report that I have perhaps been fortunate to make a worthwhile suggestion toÂ the organisation: that recruiting a PR, journalism or media volunteer from one of the universities in Vienna would help them greatly.
We had what I hope was a mutually enlightening chat about the situation in Basra, her important work, and our respective backgrounds.Â
On Tuesday evening I had the privilege of meeting one of the children the organisation has helped. She is in Vienna for treatment for her condition, Osteogenesis Imperfecta, known as â€˜Gasboneâ€™ (not sure if spelling is correct) in German.Â
Essentially, her bones fracture easily and they need to be reinforced as she grows. This has meant she has spent a lot of time in pain, bed-ridden and unable to attend school. The intensive therapy she receives in Vienna has helped improve her condition: not to mention affording her the opportunity to learn german.