Friday, October 9, 2009

Social Enterprise

Social Enterprise is a core subject of the Arts degree and covers global issues such as human rights, social justice and the environment and it's a subject I've particularly enjoyed. These issues become quite confronting when you're learning about them on a weekly basis.  I was a little annoyed that it seems to be aimed purely at Arts students and have always felt that law, education and business students would also benefit.  Broken into two parts, we're now looking at ways we can be part of the solution to these issues and become social entrepeneurs.  We are to undertake a group project and presentation on a social enterprise issue and my group decided to investigate homelessness.

After having grand plans of filming a documentary, we decided the implications and procedures involved concerning ethics wouldn't leave us an awful lot of time.  We decided to volunteer with an organisation who run nightly food vans and offer tea, coffee and snacks to the local homeless.  Now, I have always been a helper and when the kids were small, I couldn't wait to volunteer whenever I was needed and have always loved volunteering.  Now that my kids are older (as am I), I have felt an increasing need to give back to society because I am so fortunate.  After my recent volunteering exercise, I now realise how easy it is to swan around and declare, "I want to help those who are less fortunate", than it is to actually do it!

I have led a relatively sheltered life - private school girl, good job, lived in good neighbourhoods - and I was completely unprepared for what I saw on the streets.  The organisation is an outreach, which involves giving support and friendship to the disadvantaged, so it wasn't just a matter of giving them a coffee and saying, "see you later"!  I arrived on the first night, a complete bundle of nerves and felt so out of my comfort zone, which I expected but what I didn't expect was how like you and I these people are - they just have no support.  No family to help them when they need it.  I also didn't expect the impact this experience would have on me and two weeks later, I'm still thinking about all the wonderful people I met, who tonight are probably sleeping under a bush.

I truely enjoyed my experience and hope to become a permanent volunteer.  It troubles me though that in a country like Australia,  a society of such wealth and advantage, we think it's okay to have people living on the streets without the basic needs of life.  Don't even get me started on Africa.  

1 comment:

  1. It takes a lot of courage to step outside of our comfort zone. Good for you! It is the same in America, so much wealth but still people are living on the streets. How can this be?


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