As humans, we have a desire to be a part of something bigger than ourselves—we want our lives to matter and we want to contribute to something meaningful and lasting. I think that is part of the reason why we love supporting a variety of causes—whether it’s sponsoring children to go to school, building free medical clinics, cleaning up the environment—we want to be a part of something bigger than ourselves.
The other day I heard a speaker say something that at first seamed quite simple, but as I’ve thought about it, realized it’s quite profound. “It’s not about a cause, it’s about a person.” As that quote has been running through my head the last few weeks, I’ve realized it is easy to get so caught up in planning good programs and in providing great opportunities for volunteers to be engaged and to feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves, that it is easy to lose sight that the reason we do what we do in the first place is because of the individual people in our communities that are affected by our programs.
It’s not about running a great school, it is about Nila, Deny, and Petra having the opportunity to go to school for the first time. It’s not just about running an amazing health education program, it’s about Nadia, Irma, and Febi learning the importance of proper nutrition so that their children can be healthy and have a shot at a better future. It’s not about creating good job training classes, it’s about Siska, Nurjani, and Patma having the ability to earn an income and be able to provide food for their families.
The programs are how we impact people—but the programs aren’t why we do the programs–because ultimately our goal should be making a difference in the lives of individual people. We run the best possible programs we can and provide the best services we can because we know that it will touch lives. Ten, fifteen, twenty years down the road, the lives of Nila, Deny, Petra, and the hundreds of other women and children just like them will completely transformed because we made an investment in them.
It’s not about a cool slogan or a catchy cause—it’s about making a difference in the lives of people who will forever be changed because we cared enough to reach out to them. And I would argue that that is the most meaningful thing we can be a part of.