‘They’re just like credit card salesmen, stopping us rudely!” the thinking goes. ‘If I could just avoid them, I would!’ At best people consider fundraising boring; at worst, it’s an act of pestering.
The fundraisers - we call them ‘Facers’ in Indonesia - are these young people wearing a UNICEF t-shirt we often see on the street or in the mall. In fact, they do an incredibly important job, informing people about the challenges faced by Indonesia’s most vulnerable and marginalized children.
Last week, I had an opportunity to join four UNICEF-Facers on a trip to Mamuju District, West Sulawesi, where they learned about the implementation of UNICEF-supported programmes. My first impression was that they were super-talkative. A useful trait, I thought, for people soliciting donations.
On their trip to the Mamuju, the four Facers asked all kinds of questions to the local organizations that are implementing the government-run, UNICEF-supported programmes. The questions were deep and informed, for instance concerning how data and facts were uncovered in the field.
Later, armed with this newly gathered knowledge, the Facers will be better equipped to answer questions from potential donors. Indeed, that is the idea; to give Facers a better sense of the true impacts of interventions for children by sending them to the programme sites.
The motivation to learn and the spirit of service displayed by the four Facers in Mamuju was truly inspirational. Take Mey, a young woman who decided to become a Facer after her little sister died at a young age. “Maybe this is my chance to do something for my sister,” she told me. “Even though it’s not directly for her, at least I can say I am doing good things for children. Seeing the UNICEF banner at the job fair made me remember how my little sister died and I wasn’t by her side,” Mey said.
Understanding before judging, perhaps that’s the best thing to do. It may be irritating to have to sidestep Facers on the street when we are in a rush. But now I know I won’t always try to avoid them: They truly work hard to learn about the problems facing children in Indonesia and to raise money for a worthy cause. That deserves our appreciation.
So, the next time you see a Facer on the street, instead of running away, give them a high five and say good luck!
“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things, with great love.” Mother Teresa