Monday, April 29, 2013

Fundraising and Charity Part 1: Quiz Night and Orphans

It's interesting to me that I neglected to get very involved in my community until I moved to Iraq, but then again, I guess of all the places I've lived, this is the one most sorely in need. 

I did volunteer work here and there back home. And I would always put unwanted clothes in clothing donation boxes rather than simply throwing them out. But those were the easy things. The things that didn't take up much of my time or effort. (Because honestly back then I had very little time or effort to give...)

I'm taking it a little further here though. 

It all started with Quiz Night.

I used to go to Pub Quizzes all the time in college. Then in Prague there was one every now that then that I would attend. (In fact, my very good friend met her now-fiance at a quiz night in Prague.) I don't know why it never occurred to me that something this easy could be made into a fundraiser.

Here in Erbil, we have Quiz Night every week on Monday at a local sports pub called T-Bar. It started five years ago at another location and then moved later, but the idea is the same. Everyone starts showing up around 8 p.m. You can come with a team or just show up and find a group to join. Everyone is pretty friendly. My team is constantly changing members (which is why we're always called "Inconsistent"), sometimes it's people I know, sometimes it's people I've just met. 

Either way we're there to have fun.

But in order for your team to join the Quiz, you must pay $5 per person. It's a cheap fee, even less than a beer. (Man, I miss Czech beer prices.) All of the money goes directly to charity. Typically, the money goes to the Erbil Orphanage. Originally it was being used to buy necessities, but the thing about the Erbil Orphanage is that, unlike most orphanages, they're pretty well funded. On top of that, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built a really amazing orphanage for them and donated it. The kids basically live in three-floor town houses (3-6 kids per floor depending on the space), they have a swimming pool, a football turf, a playground and a rec-room. 

Sometime around Christmas, The Other Texan and I became responsible for taking up the donations, holding on to them and figuring out exactly how they should be used. She and I took the initiative to visit the orphanage and meet with the director to see what was really needed. Honestly, they've got all the stuff they need. The director told us what the kids could really use was the opportunity to socialize with people other than other orphans and the caregivers who are paid to be there. 

There are 81 kids ranging in age from as young as four to as old as 21 (the student is in University so they opted to continue housing her so she can complete her education). They're like one big family, but all they know is each other and they don't get many opportunities to get out of the orphanage other than school.

Our first event for the kids was at Easter. We set up an Easter Egg Hunt. It was a good idea, but I completely failed in organizing it properly. Unfortunately, things went poorly and the children displayed their poor social skills which left a bad taste in the mouths of the adults who were giving their time to be with them. 

However, The Other Texan and I have decided we're going to persevere. We'll be setting up another event for the kids soon and hopefully we can organize it better and have better communication with the Orphanage on how to get the kids to have fun but still behave well. The idea really is to teach these kids that the may not have the traditional sense of a family, but they're still people and they deserve to be loved. 

Wish us luck!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Have any thoughts on this post? Let me hear it!