I Promise You This, You Will Make a Difference

    Posted: June 23, 2016

    I’m terribly upset about the lack of access that most of the world has to potable drinking water.

    I’m outraged by the fact that worldwide 1 in 3 women will experience some form of physical or sexual abuse.

    I’m disgusted that one in six American’s does not have food security.

    I’m appalled when I read statistics. Often I feel exhausted and so incredibly insignificant in the face of such drastic numbers, such huge problems. The reality of the issues that we are facing globally and locally can be terribly paralysing.

    • What can I do?
    • What do I even know about the true causes of these issues?
    • Where should I put my energy when there are so many battles to fight?

    It’s a bit like getting anxious about the future. We all have those nights where we feel on the wrong career path, doomed to never find true love, and disappointed by our efforts to whip up a satisfying dinner. It all feels like too much, we feel like we will never be the person that we want to be.

    We become incredibly overwhelmed.

    So what do we do on a personal level? We bring things back to the present and start making small steps towards the direction that we want to be moving, we ground ourselves in our current reality, and we start making changes towards the future that we envision for ourselves. We walk, we don’t sprint, because we know that we are more likely to trip if we try to run.

    Such is the power that we have when it comes to global issues. We have to become grounded in present day truths and then we have to act, in whatever small way that we can, in whatever way best fits into the fabric of our lives.

    We see progress in our personal lives. The problem is that globally it can be much harder to see how your personal contributions are changing the reality of the overall picture. In fact it is almost impossible. You will not volunteer on a women’s empowerment project and see statistics pertaining to domestic violence drop. You will not volunteer on a marine conservation project and immediately see numbers reflecting increases in coral population counts.

    Change takes time, we cannot rely on numbers to be a marker of progress. Statistics will change over time, normally over a substantial period of time, this is not the way to monitor if you are making a difference.

    Every single victory is a victory that contributes towards overall progress.

    The family that no longer has to worry about their child having breakfast due to the free meal program that you helped run in India when you volunteered last year, that made a difference.

    The women who learned new skills through a career development workshop that you helped implement now has a way to make money independent of her husband, meaning that if abuse is to arise she is in a better position to independently support herself. This made a difference.

    The child who now has a place to go every day that is reliable and filled with unconditional love, who is surrounded by people who believe in his potential, when home life might not always provide those things, this made a difference.

    You have made a difference. These small changes are the only way to go about creating global change. Just as an individual who wants a more rewarding career path must start by applying to one job at a time so too must we work towards global change by making individual contributions, it is the only way.

    Ready to start making a difference? Find out more about GVI’s international award winning volunteering programs and internships! Choose from over 150 community development, animal care, teaching, women’s empowerment, and conservation projects worldwide!