If Charity Starts at Home, What is “Home”?

May 2, 2013

cambodiaThe London office of Ketchum was treated to a visit by Erin Ganju, CEO of Room to Read, an impressive non profit organization dedicated to children, literacy and girls’ education. Erin’s inspiring talk, which included a story about a child Suma who was saved from slavery in Nepal, reminded me of a conversation with a friend not based in a Room to Read beneficiary country who decried: “charity starts at home.”

I was glad my friend challenged me because it got me thinking: “what is home?” and where should precious time or money be spent on helping others? I’ve had the privilege of living in urban centers and blue collar towns in the US (New York City, Wright City), Japan (Tokyo, Hidaka-cho) and now London, so it struck me: home starts with ourselves. Thus, home starts with our own PASSION alongside our commitments and priorities.

I am a mother of two girls with an interesting job in charge of shaping stories and finding ways to frame them to people, communities and networks. I’ve come to realize that children, education, girls and storytelling are where my passions lie, no matter where my home may be located. Room to Read helped me see this. And you know what?  Something interesting happened on my way to this realization. Suddenly, my home got a little bit bigger.

Room to Read prompted me to think about how the acute  stresses of poverty and payday loans might affect a parent’s emotional and financial well being when working to provide their child with a supportive home life and robust education. This is why I support the aims of Kensington & Chelsea’s Your Credit Union.

Room to Read also inspired me to think about who is telling our stories and what the narrative landscape might look like if more women made films (less than 10% and 15% make up the directors and screenwriters, respectively) and this is why I support Birds Eye View.

Room to Read led me to think about my own daughters’ Addison Primary School one block away, which is benefiting from the good works of thoughtful parents and staff and it makes me appreciate them all the more.

Room to Read even led me to think about boys – lest my support of girls be misinterpreted – and how partnerships with my husband, friends, neighbors and work colleagues have proven crucial and why, yes, I support men, too! You see, charity and home can start small on a localized level, but look how much bigger it can be when we think about it on a macro scale and care for a child in Nepal the same way we care about a child on Folgate Street in London.

Photo credit: thelightbox.net

Robyn Massey looks after the Ketchum brand and reputation globally, from London. Visit her on Twitter at: @robynmassey.