By Bonar Bell, Head of Brand and Digital Marketing
I have something to confess: I’m not a kiwi. I’m Canadian (there, I said it!). And as such, my Christmas traditions have never included the excitement of watching fireworks in the Auckland Domain or observing a 20-metre Santa Claus being assembled high above shop windows. Sadly, I’ve never enjoyed a Christmas barbecue on the beach, listening to water as it crashes onto the shore and watching as the branches of the majestic Pohutukawa tree sway in the warm breeze.
While Christmas traditions in New Zealand are quite different than those I’ve experienced in Toronto, the magic surrounding New Year’s Eve is very familiar – reflections, realisations and resolutions seem to fill the minds and the hearts of everyone the world over, no matter if you’ve had an amazing or a less-than-perfect 2018.
For those of us at ChildFund New Zealand, 2018 has been a year of excitement. We have a new strategic goal, a refreshed brand identity and a renewed focus on finding innovative solutions to issues that affect children and youth — in communities far away and in our own backyard.
I took a few moments this week to ask some of my colleagues to reflect on 2018, what made them smile, and what 2019 will have in store:
Marie Chan – Fundraising Coordinator
“This year, I have enjoyed learning even more about the countries where ChildFund New Zealand has programmes and projects. I’ve learned a lot about our PNG Hotline project (a free telephone-counselling service for victims of gender-based violence in Papua New Guinea). People have been calling into the hotline for all sorts of needs, even after the recent earthquake. For 2019, I am looking forward to visiting our programmes in Zambia, where I’ll get a first-hand look at our important work in Luangwa (our dedicated community).”
Resh McGann – Partnerships Manager
“2018 brought our team closer together, and provided a lot of updates from our local partners. I smile with every photo, report and personal insight shared by our wonderful colleagues overseas. In particular, I was struck by the sheer appetite for entrepreneurship in rural Emali, Kenya, as recounted by two ChildFund colleagues who visited the area in October. The year ahead holds some incredible opportunities for ChildFund supporters to connect with the communities they support. As a child sponsor myself, this is hugely exciting!”
Shona Jennings – Director of Impact
“In 2018, I attended a school assembly in Vietnam where children were directing a skit. They asked me to be an animal, so I pretended to be a sheep. They all looked terribly confused – no one knew what a sheep was! In the new year, we will have a stronger Pacific focus. We’re looking at some different ways of communicating with our supporters, and making some good progress on our community road maps for our dedicated communities overseas.”
Carole French – Special Projects Manager
“I love being part of the ChildFund team. Just coming into the office in the morning makes me smile. We also have so many exciting new initiatives planned for 2019! Can’t wait!”
Ashima Bajwa – Finance Intern
“This year was my first time working for a development organisation and I’ve learned SO much about the work that ChildFund does. One thing that stands out is the incredible things happening in Kenya where we are helping a grassroots milk distribution centre run by a group of village women get off its feet. It’s all so exciting. I can’t say enough about the support our donors have given in 2018. Their generosity and genuine regard for children is humbling and astounding, and has enabled widespread impact across communities – changing lives and transforming young minds!”
Paul Brown – Chief Executive Officer
“2018 has been truly humbling. After months of effort and thousands of people supporting me, I crossed the finish line for the New York City marathon, helping ChildFund improve education for children in Zambia. In the New Year, I’m personally looking forward to learning (some) Te Reo Maori. I’m also excited about the momentum we are experiencing at ChildFund New Zealand! We have a great platform and great partnerships, and the world’s best team of people committed to working here to drive impact for children.”
Quenelda Clegg – Programme Manager
“At ChildFund New Zealand, there’s never a dull moment and I feel extremely lucky to work here! This past year, I have built stronger relationships with colleagues in Kenya, Sri Lanka, Timor-Leste, Kiribati, Vietnam and Zambia by visiting, chatting via Skype and email. I’ve heard about their challenges and successes and built wonderful friendships. For 2019, we have some exciting big challenges! Our NZ Prime Minister has recently renewed our commitment to climate action in the Pacific, so we are going to be looking at what we can do to reduce our carbon footprint and waste, as well as how we can support our partners in Kiribati to be resilient to the changing climate.”
Vanessa Madsen – Donor Services
“2018 was such a good year, I can’t choose one thing that is my favourite. One thing that makes me smile is our new coffee machine in the office (Note: she was definitely smiling as she told me this). For 2019, we will continue to progress one step at a time. There are a lot of exciting changes being implemented in the New Year. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank our donors for their support in 2018, and I wish each of them a safe and Happy New Year.”
Janet Lambarth – Donor Care Manager
“I’ve just started at ChildFund – so 2018 has been filled with lots of learning (with lots more to go). I’m excited about getting into my new role and get to know our donors even better. We can’t do what we need without them.”
Carolyn Brooke – Partnerships Manager
“Returning to work at ChildFund New Zealand has been a highlight of 2018 (feeling so lucky and proud to be part of an organisation helping give stronger, healthier futures to children). We have a lot of hard, but rewarding, work in 2019. I’m excited to share it with our donors. Their generosity makes all the work we do possible!”
Happy New Year, everyone!