It’s been a while since my trip to Brazil last summer, but I would like to tell you about how I managed to get there without paying too much money and by committing to a wonderful cause at the same time. Now, it’s around the time when last year I started my journey towards the £2,800 and I can say that it might have been one of the most complex tasks I’ve managed to fulfill so far.
The whole thing was one of the Manchester RAG challenges (find more about them here: https://www.facebook.com/manchesterrag/) that I had discovered at the Freshers Fair at the beginning of my first year at university, also when the coursework was much easier and I had the time and energy to get involved with other interesting things! I thought about it for a while, and somewhere in October 2016 I decided that I want to raise money for The Children’s Society and go on the ‘Brazil Trek’. What was their challenge? Go on a ‘dangerous’ trek through the wildlife of a Brazilian rainforest in order to raise the target of £2,800 for the charity organisation.
So the fundraising started. My first thought was to create a Facebook page, which I did, and keep sharing and encouraging people to donate. That was somehow useful, but not at all as good as I had expected because people DO IGNORE you a lot on Facebook. There were some kind hearts who actually contributed and to whom I am still thankful and grateful. (Also, I’m sorry if I spammed too much, but it was for a good cause.)
Throughout the next months, there came some series of bake sales. I did COOK a lot (after earning a health certificate), but I also developed useful skills like talking to people, convincing (and begging sometimes), learned about selling techniques and how to SMILE nicely, despite the many rejections. They are not quite the usual skills a computer scientist would look for, but there will be a time when they will prove useful, maybe at some point I will have my own start-up organisation and I will want to sell my software to companies. I think that any new experience adds up to your own character and makes you a richer person.
When I talk about selling, I don’t mean the actual exchange of goods, I mean selling my cause. So I was fundraising for the Children’s Society because they would help the most vulnerable children in the UK, from disadvantaged, abandoned or neglected to children affected by violence, bullying or sexual abuse. And I believed in my cause as I think that children are the most important ‘thing’ we should take care of because they are our future and they have the highest potential and energy to improve our world. (You can check out my fundraising platform with all my motivations and donations here: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ana-pandrea.)
Rather than describing all the other fundraising activities that I organised, which were quite a lot (charity party in my hometown, concert, talent show, amulets sale to name a few…), I would like to only talk about my favourite one and 2 major benefits I got from this whole project.
My favourite activity was busking before Christmas in Bucharest, as I got the chance to meet with people from my high school choir and other wonderful friends who volunteered for my campaign. I relived the joy of our traditional Christmas carols and the magic of that time of the year in a bit of a different manner, a more noble and fulfilling one, as I was singing for those who might not have experienced such feelings in their whole lives.
The main benefit of this experience was the team that I was part of during those 9 months of hard work and the leaders who made it all possible, by giving numerous fundraising suggestions and forever encouraging us. We all vibed together in the final Brazil trek and although there were difficult times for some people, we enjoyed being with one another for the adventure of a lifetime, along with taking in some amazing natural views. It’s really nice to connect with such motivated and proactive individuals (especially if you are one yourself) as you can count that they will always do something meaningful with their lives and those around them.
A second thing that was really worthy for me was the opportunity to travel around the UK while going to weekend street collections. I would spend hours standing with a bucket in my hand and asking for spare change, but I would also wander around new places, take nice photos and perhaps meet fundraisers from other cities or talk to locals.
In this whole context, one might wonder how I managed to keep up with school and study and the answer to that is that it was a bit difficult. I got really busy at some point, I might have skipped a few lectures and more hours of sleep, but I would say it was worth the extra stress!
Getting to the trip itself, it consisted of 6 continuous days of trekking through a natural reservation south of Rio de Janeiro and was amazing through all its tight pathways and colourful birds, wide sandy beaches and all sorts of palm trees, friendly locals and awesome guides, delicious fresh fish, tasteful exotic fruits and strong Caipirinhas! Last but not least, it was delightful because of the cheerful, determined and fun spirit of my team, even after 6 hours of climbing up and down the beautiful hills.
To conclude, I suggest you take such a challenge because it’s a chance you don’t get too often and will definitely become a memory you will never forget! Like they say, anything that gets your heart racing is worth doing… and I can assure you this one does!