Hello amazing people! We are back and why not to start with our #shemakesthedifference tag? Meet the amazing Jody Dontje, who is the founder and director of the Help Nepal appeal.
Why Nepal? How did you get involved with the country?
At university, I realised I wanted to use my life to help others, so I started to volunteer in my local community and through Federation University Australia. At the volunteering day, I acquainted myself with a fellow volunteer who was able to see my leadership skills and potential. Literally 6 months later, without having contact with this girl, she approached me and I was astounded that she remembered my leadership skills. It was in this moment that she invited me to travel with a group of students she was organizing, to volunteer in the country called Nepal.
How has your organisation made the difference in your life?
After volunteering in Nepal at the end of 2014, I left knowing that my life had changed. The experience there was incredible and my heart had been touched by such kindness from people who had so little. On April 25th 2015, which happened to be on my birthday, devastating earthquakes struck Nepal. My heart sunk and my mind began to race as I was continuously exposed to personal stories sent to me, with heartbreaking images and footage keeping me awake at night. Though I was already busy with my last year of full-time study, and commitment to volunteering and work, I knew I had to do something. With the support of my university, I started “The Help Nepal Appeal” in my local area of Ballarat. In the space of 7 months, the support grew so substantially that my appeal was able to raise over $11000 and help thousands of Nepali people through my affiliation with other non-for-profit organisations.
How does The Help Nepal Appeal make the difference?
The Help Nepal Appeal is people connecting people to opportunities to help others in need. My charity Facebook page and Instagram allows honest transparency, it reveals the whole process; what events are run by whom, how much money is raised, as well as where the money goes and how it helps. Since the appeal was born in April 2015, with the support of other non-for-profits, the appeal has provided valuable resources such as medicine, food, water purification tablets (to limit the spread of waterborne diseases), hydration powder, tents, sleeping bags, blankets, clothing, mosquito nets, metal sheets for rebuilding, Temporary Learning Centres (TLCs), Temporary Housing, wheelchairs for the disabled, educational resources, sports equipment, and furthermore, hope. My volunteers have also built playgrounds, a Nepali student has been sponsored through my ‘Student Sponsorship’ program, and the ‘Lunch Program’ in the rural Kavre community has been providing food for students who may otherwise not travel the distance to school to gain an education.
What advice would you give for people that want to make the difference?
When you begin to think positive and have the desire to do good, incredible opportunities begin to present themselves and it sets an upward spiral of life changing moments to give you meaning. My message to people, with the lingering desire to make a positive difference, is to please open your mind, to see kindness and opportunity where others see misfortune and despair, to push your boundaries and take a step forward to admit you have been through struggles but now seek to create a better future, and to realize that you can make a positive difference. I now live by this quote, “discomfort is a precursor of growth”. Whenever I feel uncomfortable, in doubt, or scared, I remember that these are the moments in which I truly grow. From growth, I then can make more of a positive difference. To all those wanting to create positive change, please seek to live a life where your boundaries are pushed. Strive to be better, and to do better.
Please help support my team and my efforts by supporting “The Help Nepal Appeal” on Facebook: www.facebook.com/thehelpnepalappeal
Get in touch at: