“My challenge to All We Can supporters and those who are yet to engage with our work is simple. Do all you can to live in a way that loves, honours and respects our neighbours and the planet we all share.”
All We Can recently welcomed Graeme Hodge as its new Deputy Chief Executive. Graeme has considerable experience, having been deeply involved in both international development and public engagement initiatives focused on social justice, poverty alleviation and community empowerment. He joins All We Can with a passion for ending extreme poverty, and believes that we all play an essential role in this ambitious aim. We spent time with Graeme finding out more about him, about why poverty is personal to him, and what his hopes are for the future…
Q) All We Can believes that poverty is personal, and so is the solution. What makes poverty personal to you?
For me, poverty and injustice have been things I have been confronted with for as long as I can remember. Having grown up in the Philippines, extreme poverty was always around me. I remember as a child, having a strong sense of what was fair and unfair. When I was sick, I was able to access medical attention, but there were many in the communities around me – even some of my friends – who couldn’t do the same. Our family wasn’t rich by any western standard, and there were times when we struggled financially on my parent’s local Filipino salary, to afford our groceries, with sky-rocketing inflation making prices of many basic items out of our reach. And yet, we still managed to have modest holidays, to get a good education and to live in a safe, solid house. Our frequent visits to places like the infamous ‘Smokey Mountain’ (a literal mountain of smouldering rubbish where thousands of people live and scavenge for a living daily) served as a constant reminder that inequality and poverty were real. I remember that it was, quite simply, unfair.
Those experiences stayed with me through my teenage years and into adulthood, when I started to understand more of what injustice really meant, what caused it, and how to define extreme poverty. My own professional experience, and the privilege of having frequently travelled to many developing countries around the world, has only entrenched within me, the importance of the values of fairness and equality and grown my passion to tackle injustice and end extreme poverty. I have come to understand intrinsically and personally, that the way I live my life has a direct and consequential effect on the way others live their lives; particularly in developing countries. My personal choices as a consumer, a polluter, as a person of stable means – can help drive harmful and exploitative industries, contribute to catastrophic climate change and further cement a growing wealth divide and hoarding of resources. Or my life can be lived in a far more considerate manner. I can live in a way that supports and shares resources, make consumer choices that are supportive of ethical and fair industries and trade, and do my part to minimise any negative environmental impact. It is this second path that I choose. It is this path that I try to live personally and that I am able, through my work with All We Can, to live vocationally as well.
Q) Why did you decide to join All We Can as its Deputy Chief Executive?
My vocation is very much rooted in the international development sector. After a few years of consultancy work in the private and third sector – experience that has taught me a lot about charity leadership, partnership, innovation and diversifying funding streams – I was ready to return to the frontlines of development. The opportunity at All We Can was instantly appealing to me on a number of levels. All We Can has been through a remarkable rebirth in the last few years. But now is the time for building on that change, time for growth and innovation and for realising the newly cast vision for the future. For me, the organisational ‘life stage’ that All We Can had reached was an irresistible draw. I have joined the organisation at a crucial and exciting phase of its development and I am privileged to be a part of the leadership of this long-established, but newly invigorated, organisation.
Q) What message would you have for All We Can supporters?
My challenge to All We Can supporters, and those who are yet to engage with our work, is simple: Do all you can to live in a way that loves, honours and respects our neighbours and the planet we all share. Ending extreme poverty is possible. I have seen it with my own eyes, and we have shared the stories of real transformation with our supporters on a regular basis – through our newsletters, web, video, social media, appeals and campaigns. We ask you for your support because we know that it has a genuine, tangible impact on the lives of millions of people who directly and indirectly benefit through our work.
The challenge for each of us is not to just abdicate the fight against injustice and poverty to the professional work of a great charity. Rather it is to support great charities, but also to live our own personal lives in such a way as to ensure that each one of us plays our part in the global community of which we are a part. When we choose this journey, our efforts – supported by All We Can and the local people we partner with in developing countries – make a real and sustainable difference, and make the world a better place for everyone.
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