|Sweaty, stinking but happy|
Tuesday, 26 February 2013
Thursday, 29 November 2012
Here's a recent blog I wrote for Viva. Maybe this is a good place to restart again...
“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
- Howard Thurman/John Eldredge
It was this quote, and a series of events, that led me to leave my job as a corporate lawyer in the city of London five years ago. I had little idea what the next job would look like, or how my new life would be; all I knew was that I wanted to devote most of my energies to poverty and justice issues.
Whilst training as a lawyer I had my first brief encounter with poverty. I still remember the scene of scores of children playing in huge puddles of muddy water after heavy rainfall in a shanty town in Cebu, Philippines and the adults sitting around outside the shacks where they lived, with looks of resignation on their faces. And I remember the feeling of helplessness and near emotional paralysis. “How should any child be in a situation like this, where they may die of diarrhea and dehydration tomorrow?” I asked myself, “But what can I, an individual, possibly do to help?”
These thoughts troubled and stirred me, so I started exploring what I should do. I went back to visit the project I knew in the Philippines; I started supporting charities that helped the poor; I read up on development issues. But I continued to wrestle with God and the feeling that I wasn’t doing enough. Deep inside, I feared He might tell me to leave everything and go live in an African village forever. In addition, I felt confused. I loved spending time with children, but my skills as a lawyer did not seem to fit well with that. I was also disheartened by how, through my research of the development sector, no one seemed to agree on a way to combat poverty and injustice, and everyone was pushing their own agenda.
Whilst I was wrestling with these things I met Rob, who later became my husband. Through Rob (who was cycling from Siberia back to the UK to raise funds and awareness for Viva) I learned about Viva’s work with children. As our knowledge of Viva’s approach to transforming children’s lives deepened, both Rob and I came to love what Viva does. We love how Viva does not compete with the world but builds effective local networks of churches and organisations through which people work together and bring about long-lasting transformation to children’s lives. For me, this was it; I found a mission that kindled my excitement.
In 2010 we relocated to Hong Kong, where I am from, and set up an office to raise funds and awareness of Viva’s work with children in Asia. Interestingly, I now use on a daily basis skills of an ex-corporate lawyer, and in our visits to the networks I get to meet and spend time with children and the dedicated caregivers who give so much of themselves to protect and care for children.
The way God has answered my prayers has blown me away. If I had not taken the risk to leave the corporate world, I would not be where I am now, with a new-found motivation and new perspectives and skills. I now know how much a red pepper should cost in the shop (I was rather reckless with my money before); how to have conversations beyond law and finance at a dinner party (I previously had a narrow repertoire of topics); the importance of child protection; book-keeping; how to create a Facebook page for expeditions; how to invite people on a journey with Viva through giving and praying. Most importantly I learned how, in order to make a difference, I don’t have to leave everything and go live in a rural village. I can join what God is already doing through his people, and what better way to start than by working together for children with Viva.
Inside Viva is a blog series that shares the stories of Viva staff members and their views on different topics. The opinions expressed in these articles are the authors’ own.
What can you do?IF YOU ALSO WANT TO DO MORE TO TRANSFORM CITIES AND COMMUNITIES TO PROTECT CHILDREN, THERE ARE MANY OPTIONS FOR YOU. GET INVOLVED NOW
Monday, 14 March 2011
Monday, 7 March 2011
To find out more about the amazing work of Love146, check out www.love146.org.
Monday, 28 February 2011
2) What did you do before this?
Well, I did quite a few things!
My first job was with a London magic circle law firm where I trained and qualified as a corporate lawyer. I was with this firm for 4 years. I know plenty of people who enjoy their lawyer jobs but for me I thought life was too short to be stuck in something I wasn't passionate about!
After I left in late 2007 I tried different things in international development and human rights, which included working with an NGO in relief and development (Tearfund) and interning with a couple of human rights think tanks. This summer my husband and I also volunteered on a residential project with street children in the Philippines, which was absolutely awesome.
3) What was your moment of truth?
It's hard to pinpoint to a particular moment which changed everything, though I have to say that having a teacher-turned-explorer boyfriend then (now husband) who was cyclinghalf way across the world just because that's what he wanted to do certainly didn't help!
I was also reading Richard Nelson Bolles' other less well known book How to Find Your Mission in Life and found it rather inspiring.
And I loved what John Eldredge said in Wild At Heart: Don't ask what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.
4) How did you plan for it?
On one hand I wanted to have had something lined up before I left my corporate law job (I was, after all, a lawyer, so was naturally rather risk averse) but my hours were so long and there just wasn't any physical or head space to think about anything, so I had nothing planned as such when I finished my notice. I was really in need of a break though so was glad to have 4 months off.
During the break I rested and tried to regain perspective, and after that I spent a whole month talking to everyone and anyone who was willing to talk to me about the international development and charity world (I asked my friends for any contacts they were happy to give me) and built up my network that way. I found my first job through doing that!
Taking a few months off might not be a viable option for some, but I was fortunate enough having saved up a bit of money and I didn't have any mortgage or babies to worry about.
5) What have been the best and worst things about making this happen?
The best thing is that even though nowadays I'm still busy and sometimes working longish hours (nothing compared to the City though!), I'm doing something I'm passionate about and I no longer feel chained to my job because of some unknown fear/feeling of loss if I walked away from it.
Can't really think of the worst thing really.... obviously one has to go through lots of soul searching about one's own identity when one jumps ship, and I felt scared and vulnerable and insecure at various points, but it's all part of a very good growing up experience (with the benefit of hindsight I can of course say this now...). I talk about some of my struggles on my blog.
6) What is the best advice you have received?
Try not to give too much weight to people who tell you that it cannot be done - because there will always be people who are pessimistic / risk averse / or for whatever reason think you're mad!
The flip side of this is to talk to everyone and anyone who's happy to chat with you - you'd never know what you might learn or who they might point you to.
7) What resources or information have you found really helpful?
What Colour is Your Parachute by Richard Nelson Bolles.
I love Don Miller's A Million Miles in a Thousand Years - a hugely inspirational read, Don talks about living life as a story, which is an excellent way to go about living your life, so you'll be intentional about leading an interesting, meaningful life (which often requires some risk taking!).