It’s now time stop putting on the front in front of the camera. I promised you that I would keep this as real and as raw as possible.
I have been struggling with the thought of moving out to the village. It is a thought that disturbs me for many reasons, regardless of how much I want to do this. I moved to Siem Reap 8 months ago and it has now become my everyday reality. I’ve developed close friendships here, I have support and I have a lot of stimulation to keep me busy. I’m about to move out after 8 months of trying to settle in to a town so foreign – a challenge in itself. I fear a lot of things right now. I fear the nostalgia I might feel after leaving my new home, Siem Reap. The memories I have made here are so close to my heart, they have become part of me, part of my identity – that may be the issue. On a journey like this, it’s important to remain as detached as possible. You don’t know where you are going to end up, and becoming attached and comfortable with one thing or one place can lead to emotional turmoil.
I struggle with the thought of going to the village and being bored and lonely. The taste of loneliness I have experienced since being in Cambodia is unmatched compared to anything I have ever felt. I can only imagine it will be more intense once I move out to a rural region.
Ill lay it out for everyone straight up. I have been trying to overcome a particular obstacle that has crippled me my whole life – caring too much for what others think of me. Since starting ‘This is Philanthropy’, the thought of being in the public eye has caused some issues for me, personally. I fear putting my stuff out there and I get caught up in a vicious cycle of trying to perfect my work. I’m starting to come to terms with the fact that I will never produce perfection. I think any artist will tell you that striving for perfection is the biggest mistake one can make. This is an obstacle that I am trying to overcome with each day.
Slowly, I am coming to terms with everything and I am preparing myself emotionally and mentally for what is to come. I would be lying if I told you it was all pain. For the most part, I’m excited and motivated to get this show on the road. This is the life I have chosen, and I wouldn’t trade for a thing in the world. I guess, it’s a lesson learned here – that no matter how much fear you feel, you should move in spite of it if what you are chasing is something that has meaning to you. I don’t think fear will ever be absent, especially in the pursuit of artistic and entrepreneurial ventures.
I’ve found myself waking up during the early hours of each morning feeling the nerves and the pressure. I’ve had people tell me that they doubt I will last out in the village. These comments add to that level of pressure I feel. At the end of the day, I have my eyes on the prize. As much as this is for me, I try to stay in touch with the bigger picture. There is more to this journey than what my ego would like to have me think. I have decided to go out and serve both the people in the village and the people who follow me online. When you seek to serve those around you, you take on a huge responsibility. Adding value to the lives of those around you is the main objective here.
One of the core ideas that I would like to explore and expand on through my writing is the philosophy behind philanthropy. Although my content is based around the documentation of my journey as a humanitarian worker, I believe there is more to the conventional definition of philanthropy. The purpose here is to draw a bridge between philanthropy as a job title, philanthropy as a prestigious label given to those who donate large sums of their fortune, and the people who aren’t directly involved in any related field of work.
Through my attempt to bridge this gap, I am curious to see how the development of a philanthropic philosophy, once adopted, can add value to people’s lives by improving levels of fulfillment and overall quality of life.
Let’s begin with the story of Scott Harrison and ‘Charity Water’ –
The story of Scott Harrison, founder of ‘Charity Water’ is one that has captivated many people across the globe. Scott began his early career as a nightclub promoter in Manhattan where he indulged in a life of self-orientated pleasures. Hitting ultimate success as a nightclub promoter, he found himself surrounded by fame, fortune and a long list of dark vices which would later lead to him declaring spiritual, emotional and moral bankruptcy.
Scott decided to take a turn, embarking on a journey as a photojournalist on a hospital ship, where he spent 2 years off the coast of Liberia. Experiencing firsthand – the effects of dirty water, Scott set back to New York on a new mission. Upon returning to NYC in 2006, Scott turned his full attention to the global water crisis and since then, he has helped raised $320 million and funded up to 30,000 water projects in 26 countries. On completion, these projects will provide clean water for up to 8.4 million people.
What I found most interesting about Scott is the way he hires employees for ‘Charity Water’. Scott mentions having keen individuals who apply for jobs through ‘Charity Water’. The charity has had a long list of eager applicants who are willing to “clean the toilets”, just as long as they can join the mission. On the surface, this may sound great, however Scott looks at this much differently. When hiring, Charity Water focuses on craft and excellence before they consider the passion that the candidate may have towards the mission.
Scott is always on the lookout to hire top performers from companies like Apple, Google, Microsoft or Tesla who have spent years developing skills in a particular field of work. It is at ‘Charity Water’ where these highly skilled individuals get to experience a new approach to their work, being able to use their expertise to serve others. Once these individuals jump on board, they then get introduced to the mission behind Charity Water, and that is they get to witness their skills being put towards significantly impactful philanthropic work.
This notion of living in service of others is something that I would like to explore further. I believe there is more to it than just an artificially compromised corporate title. What makes it so unique is the fact that this philosophy can be applied to almost anything in career or life.
When you look at the definition of philanthropy, you see something quite different from the stereotypical image of the generous billionaire or the self-sacrificing humanitarian. Philanthropy is – the desire to promote the welfare of others. When a school teacher watches his or her students grow, this experience triggers a positive emotional response. On a neurochemical level, the release of endorphins invokes this ‘feel-good’ experience. Professions such as these are taken up by individuals who value this emotional response, sometimes more than the value they hold for monetary gain. The level of fulfillment gained from these jobs is enough to sustain passion and perseverance while performing their work.
So, how can this philanthropic approach apply to people who work roles where promoting the welfare of others isn’t a direct priority? This question may require some outside of the box thinking. If we can find ways where offering value that exceed the expectations of those whom we seek to serve, then maybe, just maybe we can begin to make real impact.