daily needs or something else?
A little while back I had some news. It was the sort of news that I have often wanted but never thought would actually happen.
(No, not publication. I still hope for that but I know I need to be realistic and realise that it is much less likely than this.)
This was good news though, very good news.
To put it briefly, the friend who died last year left $Aust50,000 for a mutual friend in Africa to use for the unaccompanied children she cares for - and me with the responsibility of deciding how this should be done. My friend left no instructions apart from a vague request to "do something useful with it - whatever you think best".
I was so stunned that the person who was telling me this by phone actually asked, "Are you still there? Are you all right?"
"Er, yes. I think so." I finally managed to break the silence.
I was - but only just. It is a very large sum of money in the intended context.
I spent the rest of the day doing less work than I should have done.
I had to let my friend in Africa know. I had to let another friend know. Z... deals with the financial paperwork.
E-mails flowed backwards and forwards. What to do with the unexpected funds? Did we use them for the immediate needs of the children or did we use them on something else?
My friend in Africa runs a home for unaccompanied children - any child who has no adult willing or able to take responsibility for them is welcome. Day to day life there is a financial struggle. It was tempting to use the funds to make life a little easier for a year but that didn't feel right to any of us. Something that big should last longer and have a greater long term impact.
So I suggested a scholarship - a scholarship for the girls. The boys have one available for them. It has been in place for some years. This is Africa and, where such arrangements exist, this is not uncommon. Why shouldn't the girls have equal access to more education? Most of them still have to leave school far too early. Education has to be paid for and there are no funds for girls without families.
More e-mails flowed between us. It would be a small scholarship but it might be enough Z... said after doing the financial homework,
Or...he and I stopped talking to our friend C... who runs the place and started a conversation between ourselves. She was enthusiastic about the scholarship idea so what if....?
Z...put some feelers out among people he knows - and he knows a lot of useful people. He put them in touch with me. I wrote the most passionate and convincing responses I could as to why this was a good idea and what the outcomes might be. I have written a lot of words this year. People do not invest large sums of money without knowing they are going to see something in return - even if that something is of no direct benefit to them.
Yesterday we had an "internet" meeting between several potential sponsors, Z and me. We went backwards and forwards late into the night in Europe and the middle of the day here Downunder. The initial $50,000 has been matched with another $50,000. The banker participating in the discussion has indicated that, invested in the way he suggested, this will do what we believe is right.
We still have some hard work to do sorting out the fine print but it is going to happen.
Yesterday afternoon I called in to see my late friend's sister. I told her what we planned to do. There was silence for a moment and I wondered if she was going to burst into tears and then she said quietly,
"I think it's a wonderful idea."
I do too.