Get Skills and Give Back by Volunteering
Growing up, I witnessed my parents volunteering their time, efforts, expertise, and money to give back to the society and help others. So naturally, volunteering was innately nurtured in me. Find out about Ten Foundations from Reham.
I have been engaging in volunteering activities every now and then, whether at a local level in my home country Egypt or abroad. When the world just feels too vast for me, volunteering acts as a reality check and confirms that not all solutions need to be grand and that tiny efforts would have a serial of positive outcomes mounting to a potentially grand result.
It is another way of making yourself feel better by saying that because of my existence, the world is a little bit better today and that today I do not have to save the world, but I can at least contribute to the 1% trying to do.
So here I am a volunteer at Ten!
I wanted to make a difference
I came across Ten Foundations charity shop in Castle Court Shopping centre in February when I was looking for volunteering opportunities. Greeted by another volunteer at the till, he briefly told me the story of Ten.
It was the bags that caught my interest!
On display are schoolbags handcrafted by families employed by the foundation where every purchase is returned to a child in need in the Philippines.
They are embowering children and families in their journey for better education and better living standards for their kids, from seven thousand miles away!
It was easy for me to fit it around my schedule
I applied not long after that and was able to join as a volunteer. As the working hours are flexible, it was easier for me to fit around my study schedule- somehow helping with my time management! Typically, work would involve filtering donated items to select proper and reusable items, tagging for pricing and sizing, and hanging them out for ironing or display accordingly.
You could also help at the till and with customers’ services, which would boost your confidence as well as your language, and communication skills. Ten’s environment is really relaxed, and feels like family.
While there I have got to know a lot about the people involved. For example, Matt the manager, who kindly shared his experience with me;
What is your position at Ten and how did you get here?
I am the manager of the foundations' Castle Court branch. I have always wanted to work for a charity so when I came across this posting, I immediately thought that this sounds like a place I would like to work for.
Why is that?
I found the fact that I could see how and where the money flows was interesting. It allowed me to directly see how my contribution is changing the lives of others.
What have you learned from working here? and how would that help you in your future career aspirations?
I have learned how privileged I am, and I am even more grateful of the life and opportunities I have been handed. Working with Ten have showed me how rewarding it is to work for a charity which made me realize that I would like to continue this type of work for the rest of my life. Maybe even start my own charity someday!
Is there anything you would like to say to future volunteers?
I would highly recommend that anyone looking to volunteer somewhere, to consider us. It is a fantastic charity. You can see exactly who your work is helping, and you get to work side by side with the founder who can tell you anything you'd like to know about the charity. The charity shop itself is possibly the biggest in Belfast which really enriches the whole experience.
I also spoke to Ten’s, the 76-year-old Northern Irishman Ian:
What is the story behind Ten's foundations and how did you come to bring it to life?
In 2010 I went through a business failure and a cancer diagnosis. We lost our home and all savings. It was a difficult time, but after a brief visit to the Philippines in 2012 I was moved by the poverty that I witnessed and decided to start Ten Foundations.
I am just an ordinary working man; a joiner, a welder, a man who can make things, but what I can also do is give a family hope-a family living in terrible poverty in the Philippines.
At Ten, we want to give people the gift of hope for their future and their families by empowering women through tools and skills to improve their own lives, their homes and most of all to be able to send their kids to school every day.
What do you hope for Ten Foundations in the future?
We are so excited to celebrate our 10 year anniversary this year! As we grow, so do our ambitions!
Moving into the next 10 years, we are embarking on an exciting new housing project for mothers in deprived conditions.
My dream is to have many livelihood centres all over the Philippines. Our schoolbags have become a huge part of our story. I want to build a brand that is synonymous with fair trade, with integrity and honesty- a brand that people can trust. I want that brand to be the first choice of primary school kids everywhere; I want them to know that they have the power to change lives.
What do you think a student will gain by volunteering at your foundations?
I think volunteering here can certainly benefit anyone. It can help raise their global awareness of others, help them recognise the value and impact of collaborative and teamwork across borders and be life changers!
They can get experience working in a retail environment through our charity shops in Belfast, upgrade their teaching and promotional skills by visiting primary schools where they would present to the children our story and discuss fair trade, global citizenship and personal development and mutual understanding or even visit the Philippines to work on our livelihood project!
Currently Ten Foundations is gearing towards a larger project-housing, where they aim to build basic accommodation units for families with basic sanitation supplies, together with the volunteers. Their vision includes the Northern Irish community where schools from the religious divide can come together for a greater cause. Because at Ten, everyone is welcome!
Find out more
Reham A. Lasheen
Public Health| Postgraduate Student | Egypt
During med school, I steadily grew an interest in public health which soon became my new goal – to work towards the improvement of populations’ health and tackling inequalities at a larger scale. Although I’ve spent most of my life in the city of Cairo, Egypt, I aspire to be what would you call a global citizen-in mind and heart. Building up my travels to the East and West as I am naturally fond of wandering and befriending new cultures, I found the transition to Queen’s like meeting a new yet familiar friend. Apart from that, drawing, and writing are my comfort activities. I have an online art gallery as well as socials where I display my works. Currently I am working on writing a novella-wish me luck!