Letter from the Chairman. Roya Elghanian
The beginning of any new year is the ideal time to embrace change. In January 2007, I did just that. I took a break from my job to travel the world and discover what it had to offer. I had a few destinations (Asia, Central America, and South America) and one objective in mind - to work with underprivileged children.
Prior to setting off on my journey, I conducted an exhaustive, increasingly frustrating, and consequentially futile web search to find a project to which I could donate my time for free, or even for a minimal cost! There were several organisations, which offered fantastic opportunities, but they were all very costly. Having quit my job, I finally had all the time in the world, but nowhere to volunteer. So you can see my predicament.
Not one to be deterred easily, I was determined to find a project along the way. A short month into my travels, it became apparent that I was not the only one who had encountered problems in finding low-cost volunteer projects. In fact, seven out of ten travellers that I met were interested in volunteering given the chance. And of those seven, less than two ended up volunteering, due to the lack of information and high fees.
It was truly shocking to discover that so many people were deterred from offering their time, while there is so much need for volunteers in the world. What an oxymoron. At that moment I decided to make a difference.
There was a real need to provide people with information on projects which were not associated with high costs.
For the remaining months of my travels, I searched for non-profit organisations, running low-cost projects in need of volunteers. They were everywhere! The time I spent with these projects was exilerating, enlighening and completely changed my outlook on life. Seeing the joy in the faces of these families, and realising the difference one person can make to so many lives inspired me to embark on the most rewarding project of my life...