ToHelp is governed by its Board of Trustees, which is ultimately responsible for the management and conduct of the charity.
Meet Callum Licence, Trustee and chairman of ToHelp. Callum is one of those rare individuals who seems to be continuously juggling multiple commitments, whilst also making time for commendable charitable work. In between managing a billion dollar project, travelling consistently and spending time with his family; Callum found that it was important to give back. With a lack of transparency offered when donating to some of the larger charities, Callum and his colleagues decided to start a charity of their own, where they could ensure that 100% of donations would go directly to helping those in need.
Expanding on a need for full visibility, Callum reflects on his desire to be able to ‘Touch and feel what (we) are doing. Big charities can’t give you that‘. Thinking back to the Orphanage project, Callum recalls ‘You see the kids as they arrive and those donations make a massive impact on the outcome of their childhood. Loads of kids were begging and stealing; now they are getting a full education in a protected environment‘. Commenting on the differences in needs, Callum confesses ‘We see things we take for granted here, have a different impact there. When you go there, everything I have I give away because you see the impact it has‘.
However, the aspiration of seeing the impact of charitable work first hand is not without its challenges. Callum acknowledges that ‘Running something for yourself is massively difficult. We have someone onsite running a whole team of people who are providing ongoing support‘. Evidently, being on-site on the projects that ToHelp support is difficult, particularly when, like Callum, a large part of your professional work demands that you continuously travel. Yet, Callum finds that an important element of running a charity, is spreading awareness of its work. ‘It’s like planting a seed that grows bigger. I tell people to tell people and so the number of people who know about our work doubles up and it propels further awareness and support‘.
This ability to directly influence the levels of awareness people have with regards to ToHelp, is particularly appealing aspect of the work that Callum does for the charity. Although Callum appreciates the work done by some of the larger already establish charities, he acknowledges the lack of direct influence that is made possible. ‘With ToHelp, I was able to see the charity growing and play a part in facilitating that growth and the impact we have‘.
For Christian Altmann (Vice President of ToHelp Switzerland), his involvement in ToHelp was his first, more serious type of contribution to charity. In start contrast to his professional role, which focuses on increasing the private wealth of individuals, Christian wanted to turn his focus on the visible financial gaps, which permeate across the developing world. With a desire to address these inequalities, Christian explains that he moved from an arm length approach towards something more concrete. He elaborates: ‘I wanted to be part of something where all of the donations are actually making their way to projects… without one cent going to admin‘. This particular quality seems to be quite unique to ToHelp, which is adamant in ensuring that donations do not cover the costs of administrative tasks. Instead, it is the trustees who ‘share the expenses of the admin from their own pockets‘.
When reflecting on some of the specific projects he has been a part of, Christian recalls his most recent trip to Tanzania ‘The children know you are coming back, they realise there is a more long term relationship‘ and ‘You see the children that have developed and grown up‘. In regards to the orphanage project, Christian touches on his specific desire to push for a greater focus on girls in Tanzania. As he explains: ‘In Tanzania, there are less girls than boys in orphanages because girls are kept in families as house workers‘, which leads Christian to pose a difficult question ‘What is better, to be a street kid or to be exploited?‘ It seems that the desire to place greater emphasis on supporting girls is a shared value maintained by Christian’s wife, Amarilys Abaraeu, who is recognised as a key driver of ToHelp Switzerland. Additionally, Christian touches on the further expansion of the Charity ‘A good friend is now in the process of incorporating ToHelp in Germany, his daughter along with her friend went to the Orphanage to volunteer‘. This has also led to further support, as Christian acknowledges ‘The trip won over another family and they are excited to help with their friends and establish a third leg‘.
Reflecting on one of the most memorable moments whilst working on the orphanage project, Christian recalls a touching moment when he was reunited with a child he met during his last visit. ‘I told one of the kid’s that surely I recognised them, and they changed, they didn’t want to let go of my hand… they felt appreciated and recognised‘. This singular moment made Christian appreciate that the work of the charity is not about the numbers, but about the people who are genuinely touched by their work. Expanding on the reception of the work of ToHelp in the local communities, Christian recollects ‘Once I talked to a teacher and he said it is very appreciated that you come and talk to use, it feels like someone cares‘. Beyond showing consideration for the people, ToHelp has also supported the local charity managed by the Monk, which has gone from ‘A shack and no land, to having proper infrastructure, two dormitories, a hall, a library and a kitchen‘ in the last seven years. The establishment of proper infrastructure isn’t the only contribution made by ToHelp as Christian explains ‘I think the lasting impact is to come, because we will help the children with their education and potentially help individuals go to university… the infrastructure is the beginning of the journey’.
For Christian, the future of ToHelp continues to promise further opportunities for support where it is crucially needed. Exploring some of these future ventures, Christian informs ‘We have bought larger land, close to the orphanage; this year we want to start collecting money to build a house for elderly people‘. The introduction of an elderly home located near the orphanage is a purposeful decision, designed to bring together the older generation with the newer generation and foster interdependency. As well as this, Christian is passionate about supporting educational opportunities for disadvantaged children. He is currently pursing an investment in the Kiokit, a wireless digital device which offers various educational programmes, designed for children in rural environments. This is yet another endeavour which promises to lead to further support where it is crucially needed, and adds to the growing list of accolades that ToHelp is accumulating through its dedicated work and contributions.
Sandra Moss moved to London 7 years ago, where she entered the world of UBS, and begun her unexpected involvement in setting up ToHelp. Almost 6 years into her time supporting the work of ToHelp , she reflects on her initial interest in the charity and the subsequent first-hand experience that she gained being on site at the start of the Orphanage project in Dar-es-salaam, Tanzania.
As Sandra reflects, ‘We (Trustee and former manager, Joshi Sathyavan) shared a joint passion for charity work. When we decided with the others, to set up ToHelp, I was very eager to get involved and essentially support the setup of the charity from its primary stage‘. Sandra played a crucial part in maintaining the charity’s administration, whilst the trustees focused on increasing fundraising efforts and essentially getting things running and off the ground. After having spent some time establishing a base, Sandra was offered the opportunity to become directly involved in the first project, the construction of a Girls Dormitory as part of an Orphanage project in the deprived city of Dar-es-salaam. ‘I wanted to go and see it first hand, to see the real impact of our work. Whilst being there, we spent time agreeing on the implementation of the project and finalising our project aim. We also had an opportunity to meet the children, the Monk and the local school.‘
When asked about the impact that ToHelp has had on the lives of others, Sandra immediately picks up on the ‘charity’s very tangible and direct nature. I have seen the kids with my own eyes, and can see that they are now in a safe environment because of our help… Children who have previously had no form of stable shelter, now have a place they could feel safe within and this gives them an opportunity to focus on their childhood, their education and wellbeing‘. Sandra’s point is poignant, particularly when we so can all fall into the trap of taking basic necessities for granted. For disadvantaged communities, ‘ToHelp gives people the first stepping stone. As we build tangible facilities, we can leave a lasting impact that exceeds its effects on a single community, it will help many cohorts of children and people who will rely on this facility in the years to come.‘
When asked to pin down her most memorable moment on the project, Sandra smiles at the thought of ‘the young girls, they were just normal girls who just wanted to talk, braid each other’s hair and enjoy their childhood. We also met the Monk and it was amazing to see the work he puts in, he has a great approach and was very unmaterialistic. He had to have a strong head on his shoulders in order to support the orphanage and take responsibility for the children. He is the core of this orphanage and it was refreshing to see the work that he does‘.
Now, following the completion of the project, Sandra considers the before and after effect of the work supported by ToHelp. ‘I initially stood on an empty piece of land which was then turned into a home for many needy children. It is amazing to see how collaboration can result in an amazing outcome contributing to the lives of others‘. In essence, this description perfectly captures the importance of charities such as ToHelp and underpins the need for public donations. As Sandra elaborates, ‘whether it is volunteering a few minutes a week or donating money, it is important to not go on in the world only thinking of yourself. We get tied down in focusing on our needs and wants, which we regard as important, but lose sight of the difficulty people face across the world. Tohelp is useful in that sense, it puts things into perspective. The fact that 100% of donations go to the work done by the charity is also significant, it helps you have confidence that your money is really making a difference.‘