Once someone said: “If you wish to leave footsteps behind you don’t stay in one place.” We believe all people, from a young age, should learn real compassion and give a helping hand to others. We motivate teenagers to achieve these values by stepping out of their comfort zone and learning how to help people in need. Only in serving others can we break the consumer and victim mind set and make people more responsible and resilient.
To nurture this, in 2015 our Be Different team designed a ‘5D Program’ to influence and make an holistic difference in the lives of vulnerable teenagers. From September, we ran six 5D groups, with a common theme of social sensibility – to see the need of the other person. Hence during the past three months we have been challenging teenagers both to support their peers who have real needs, and to be ready to change their attitudes to issues they previously ignored, or joked about.
In Chisinau, one of the 5D groups was strongly moved by the story of a young boy – Vladimir, or ‘Vova’ as friends call him. He suffers from cancer and spends most of his time in hospital. So the group decided to act. Since Vova was in great financial need, the group organised two special fundraising events. First, they arranged a special evening with food, games and a movie, for which teenagers could purchase tickets worth 30, 45 and 60 lei (2-3 euros), thus contributing to the fundraising. While the team did not expect more than 30 people to attend, more than 60 came on the day, most of whom purchased the 60 lei tickets in the knowledge that their help would make a real difference for Vova. That evening, the teenagers raised 4050 lei (190 euros) to help fund Vova’s treatment.
The second event was social action in the center of Chisinau. This time, the teenagers wanted to attract the attention of society to Vova’s problem. They motivated people to buy a hot cup of tea, with cookies they had baked and with balloons and face-painting for the children, thus raising money for Vova’s treatment. Passers-by also enjoyed traditional dances. During all these activities, we encountered both indifference and immense generosity. We were particularly impressed by one teenage girl and her little brother who lined up in the park to buy themselves something hot and sweet. When we announced our goal was social action, she came out from the line, approached our table and put 50 lei (2.50 euros) in the box, leaving her no money to buy something for themselves. We were so impressed that one of the teenagers grabbed some cookies from the table and ran to give them to her. At the end we counted another 4,000 lei (203 euros). In total, from both events we were able to raise 9,000 lei(456 euros).
One weekend, another 5D group contributed a day for the joy and wellbeing of over 30 needy children from Flutura village. They prepared special activities from short motivational movies to dancing, handcrafting and games. They also brought things from home to give away, including clothing, toys and food to serve at lunchtime. While all this was done to offer children a joyful day with smiles and good mood, the teenagers themselves learned a valuable and important lesson – that in comparison with these children, many of them live very well. So they learned to be grateful for what they have.
We feel very proud of all the efforts set by the 5D groups to give a helping hand to unhappy ones. Their openness to the concept of social activism, and towards manifestations of compassion, grows from day to day, as they learn the great lesson of not only receiving, but giving away.