#GivingTuesday – a global call to action

Giving Tuesday- Help good go viral

Over the last few days,  and with the growing popularity of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, we’ve seen retailers offer consumers the opportunity to snap up bargains galore. Advertisements and the media have been telling us that it’s good to spend, spend, spend. But what if we took one day to demonstrate to the world how good it is to give? What if we took one day to help a cause we’re passionate about, make a new commitment to giving or volunteering, and raise awareness about the work of charities?

Giving Tuesday is a global movement to create an international day of giving. It’s a call to action for everyone who wants to give something back. First launched in the USA in 2012, this year is the first year that UK charities and businesses have joined to together to get involved.

Tomorrow – and this week – could you use your time, your money, or your voice to help a cause you really care about? Many people taking part in Giving Tuesday will be using social media to spread the word about what they’re doing to mark the day. On December 2nd 2013 there were 200,634 Tweets made using the #GivingTuesday hashtag – sharing everything from pictures of fundraising events to donations.

Here are some ideas to get you started if you’re thinking of taking part:

Give a Gift for Life. It’s simple – choose a gift from our catalogue that will directly benefit the life of someone affected by leprosy. We have a range of gifts to suit all pockets – from educational supplies to medicines to farming tools and seeds and even a house! All gifts are directly linked to the projects where they are needed the most, meaning that every penny you spend will benefit someone disadvantaged by leprosy.

Send a Christmas card to someone affected by leprosy. Help them know that they’re not alone this Christmas.

– Get involved with supporting our work through prayer: there are prayer points on our website or you can sign up online to become a prayer ambassador and receive updates by email

– Start collecting used stamps for us. Did you know that they can help transform the lives of people affected by leprosy?

– Get in touch with us and find out about our UK volunteering opportunities.

– Plan and hold a fundraising event to benefit our work. We have plenty of ideas to help you out!

– If you’ve chosen one of the above, think about taking an UNselfie! Instead of simply taking a picture of yourself and sharing it on social media, take a picture of yourself holding a sign that explains the cause you’re supporting and how you’re giving. It’s a great way to spread the word and encourage more people to join in

We hope you’ll join us in supporting this worldwide call to give something back this Tuesday.

Jenny’s Nepal blog: Final reflections

Blue mountains, Nepal
Blue mountains, Nepal

Saturday 22 November

God is alive and well and living in Nepal.

Please don’t misunderstand me. I am not being flippant. We were in church this morning and the presence of God was so strong. Apparently the Nepalese church is one of the fastest growing in the world at present. The church was filled with passionate, worshipping people.

The language is different but the people are the same. The culture and the clothes are different but the Spirit is the same. Some of the songs we recognise, some are different – but hands are raised and the Spirit is the same.

A widow just stood up and thanked the church for paying all the medical bills for her husband when he was ill. His death left her with mounting debt but the church paid it in full.

Love in action: that is what we are seeing on a daily basis, and I know it doesn’t just happen here. Mike Griffin says that he feels Anandaban is a ‘thin place’, a place where heaven meets earth. If there is a reason for that, it has to be, in my opinion, because there are so many people here ‘being Jesus’ to the people around them, and the air is filled with their prayers.

Sunday 23 November

My husband is reading a book called When helping hurts: How to alleviate poverty without hurting the poor…and yourself. A strange title but reading it has changed my perspective on how to make giving and helping the poor more effective in the long term.

As far as I understand it, the book suggests there are three ways of helping the poor. Firstly, relief, in response to an obvious crisis – like giving food, clothes and blankets. Essential, and possibly the easiest one for us as individuals to participate in.

Secondly, rehabilitation, which takes the needs of the person one step further, taking them back to where they were before the crisis by working together with them.

Thirdly, development, where the potential and the desires of the person are developed and they regain control of their lives, much like the self help groups we have seen. This type of help is relational and takes much longer to achieve as changes within communities comes very slowly and at a price to those involved.

The book also suggests that it is difficult for one organisation to achieve all three types of help. From what I have seen, The Leprosy Mission does all three very successfully.

The relief work – the first aid treatment, if you like, at Patan Hospital. The rehabilitation via reconstructive surgery at Anandaban, and the physiotherapists working to teach people how to use their hands, teaching self care, and taking control of their lives again. The development work of the self help groups which grow into cooperatives, income generating loans, scholarships for education…whatever the individual wants for their life.

The fact that The Leprosy Mission does all three may be a miracle but it is envisioned by those willing to step out and take a risk, and it is worked out over the years with patience, diplomacy and love.

What a testimony to the love of God and the inspiration and power of the Holy Spirit.

Flower in the grounds of Anandaban
Flower spotted in the grounds of Anandaban Hospital

Monday 24 November

We are nearly home and I wonder how things will be different for me after such a trip. It’s a question that has been asked by all of us in the group during the last few days. Whatever the change is, will it last, and will it benefit others?

I hope so. I don’t know what the future will bring for any of us but I know my perspective on life, and what matters, has changed. Things have been brought into sharper focus whilst other things seem strangely far less important. The journal I have been writing this blog in has this phrase on the front cover: ‘Be the change’.

I guess that is the message I am taking home with me today. Whatever my or your circumstances, we can ‘be the change’ where we live and work, and across the world. Yesterday by sheer coincidence was the 57th anniversary of Anandaban Hospital opening. We had a celebratory service, and one of the staff shared a bit of the history of the place. Apparently someone in the Nepalese army had a son who had leprosy. He instigated help from the Mission so that his son could be treated. To cut a long story short, the work was founded in the forest a few miles away from Kathmandu, and they called it ‘ the forest of joy’. It all began with one man’s need. One man’s request.

Everything starts with one person. A small idea mushrooms into something large that influences millions across the world. We just don’t know what God can do with us when we are willing.

Be the change and see what He can do.

You can purchase Jenny’s paintings from her trip to Nepal, created as part of her ‘Painting A Day’ project. They’re priced at £26 plus £5 postage. Go to Jenny’s Facebook page to find out which paintings are still available and simply comment to say you would like to buy one. Proceeds go to support our work.

Jenny’s Nepal blog: fellowship and a clinic visit

Fellowship meeting for staff and patients
Fellowship meeting for staff and patients

Tuesday 18 November

Our second week is flying by but I can’t stop thinking about the strength of the women here. They have such hard lives, doing the manual labour in the fields, working on road repair, having children and in sole charge of their households. Add on the leprosy damage they suffer and you begin to see the strength of the survival spirit. It puts my everyday complaints and stresses into perspective.

A group of Nepalese women
A group of Nepalese women

Yesterday was a quieter day after the long journey into the hilly region to see the self help groups the day before. We had the enormous privilege of being in the operating theatre watching Dr Indra perform reconstructive surgery on a 59-year-old woman with badly damaged hands. It seems Dr Indra will always find a way of improving things if it is at all possible. This lady had very bent and damaged fingers but he saw potential in her left thumb. In the space of one and a half hours, he had performed a tendon transfer which made it possible for the thumb to move towards the fingers so she could hold something or pick something up. You try picking anything up without using your thumb!

Throughout the operation there was a quiet and respectful calm shown to the patient who at times was showing a little concern (she had had a nerve block rather than a general anaesthetic so was awake though mildly sedated throughout). Patients are treated with a love and respect that is an incredible example.

Later in the evening we attended the staff and patient fellowship meeting. The room was crowded with not only the staff but also were many patients who I recognised, all either with a strong faith, or others obviously exploring theirs. We had a wonderful time singing songs accompanied by the tabla, a Nepalese drum. Four of our group shared about their faith, and then back to the house by bus. There are leopards around so it was suggested that would be safer rather than a walk back through the wooded area! My husband Peter, after we had been told what to do if we were confronted by a leopard, suggested that rather than holding both arms up and shouting loudly, he would hold up one arm and take a picture with the other. We thought that might be the last picture he took!

Patient at Patan Clinic
Patient at Patan Clinic

Wednesday 19 November

Today we visited the leprosy clinic at Patan Hospital which is a government hospital that welcomes The Leprosy Mission every Wednesday to hold a day’s clinic there . The aim of the clinic is not only to pick up any new cases of leprosy which need diagnosing but also to give ongoing care to those already affected by leprosy. People also attend with general skin complaints.

The Mission works with a quiet but powerful efficiency such that a new case can move from the registration desk, to the diagnosing doctors, the smear test and biopsy section, the ulcer clinic, blood tests,and then to the physio area for sensory and muscle testing. All done in one day.

Everyone who turns up (there is no official appointment system) will be seen. No one is ever turned away. A humbling experience to be part of. I don’t think I will ever forget the people I have met here, both medical staff and patients. And a small amount of money can go such a long way here. Please keep giving and supporting TLM’s work – this is only one of so many centres across the world.

The lady in the painting was admitted to Anandaban, as so many are, for care to her ulcerated foot . She needs treatment, drug therapy and rest, all of which she will receive at no cost to herself.