What strikes you immediately when visiting river communities in Brazil`s Amazon rainforest is their absolute remoteness. Villages are small, with often fewer than 20 families in residence. There are no roads connecting one community to another – any social interaction must be done by boat. And while the rainforest covers almost 40% of the entire country, less than 2% of Brazil`s total population live here permanently.
In Amazonas where ChildFund Brasil is now working, 98% of the state, which is approximately the same size as Mongolia, is covered in forest. Adding to the sense of isolation is the fact that Amazonas is virtually disconnected from the remainder of the country. A road from here to the southern states was built almost 50 years ago, but has now been entirely reclaimed by the forest. To visit Amazonas now means even Brazilians must board a plane or take a boat journey of many days.
Given these facts, and the sheer density of this jungle, it is not surprising to discover that the Brazilian government estimates that there are around 20 ethnic groups which still have had no contact with the outside world. Ranging in size from 50 to 500 people, the only reason we are aware of their existence is through satellite imaging.
As a 20-year-old who had deferred from uni and with no work experience, a job was hard to come by. So when I picked up the paper to go through that gruelling task of finding something that was not only challenging but rewarding, I knew it wasn’t going to be easy.
Luckily for me, I found a job which I loved, and which helped me get to the position I am in now at ChildFund Australia. The job I’m talking about is face-to-face fundraising.
Having worked in the industry for over seven years, both as a fundraiser and in other roles, I can honestly say that it is one of the best jobs I’ve ever had (apart from this current role, of course!). During that time I met so many wonderful people, had hundreds of thousands of conversations and recruited over 2,500 donors. Who else can say they get to do that every day and go home each night, knowing they’ve contributed to help make a difference.
Don’t get me wrong – I did have bad days too. I recall one specific day when I was working on George St in Sydney and being called a ‘parasite’ by a man who asked how I could sleep at night, knowing I was taking money from a not-for-profit organisation (ie being paid for my work). I could not get a word in to explain that I was actually helping the organisation generate much more income for their work and that this enables charities to reach more people in need.