Project Description

by Claire Baines
by Claire Baines

This article provides an alternative approach for teams to unite and create a difference in and outside the workplace.

As leaders venture into an unknowable future and the workplace continues to evolve, the old ways of uniting teams won’t have the same impact they might have once had. Joining forces to become global parents through a Child Sponsorship program has the potential to bring about significant impact not only for teams as they connect through a common goal, but also the child who will get access to a better future and opportunities. 

Ditch the textbook approach

What if uniting your team took a different approach to what the textbooks say? What if YOU, as a leader, stepped outside the norm and embraced something new and unique that would bond your team well beyond the office or boardroom. Building a thriving team goes beyond learning and development, repetitive team building activities, and Friday night drinks. Of course each still plays their role, but delving deeper into the hearts and minds of your people and identifying initiatives that are meaningful and purposeful has merit in the mix and the potential for greater impact. 

I’ve spent 7 years working to bridge the gap between corporates and charities because I see the difference that it can make for both parties. Through the experiences that we create through Hands Across the Water in Thailand, I see a genuine connection between individuals and the kids that they meet. When that individual transitions from knowing nothing about Hands to truly believing in all that we do because of one interaction, I know that this strong connection can only do good for both the individual and the kids. There is a great level of pride in the conversations when they speak about their contribution to the charity and these individuals walk away changed and inspired to do more. 

This connection and the work that I do with corporates got me thinking. Why couldn’t we replicate this across our teams and organisations. What if we created a program that employees were proud to be a part of, a program that bonds a team by providing a better life and opportunity for someone less fortunate, a program that could truly make a difference in and outside the workplace. We’ve always talked about child sponsorship for individuals and families; but we haven’t spoken about teams joining forces to become global parents for one child. What if we matched an older student wanting to study hospitality with an operations team in a leading hotel? What if we matched a student studying marketing and graphic design with a corporate marketing team or creative agency? What if… 

Let me tell you about Mook…

Mook was introduced to Rotjana when she was 11 years old. Having lost her mother and father some years earlier, her village helped her find ways to get the financial and emotional support that she needed as a young girl. When the Tsunami devastated Khao Lak, Rotjana moved to the area to set up a home for children left with no mother, father or relatives. Mook moved with her and this would become a huge turning point; life was never the same again. 

Through Hands Across the Water, Mook received the support that she needed to live a life of choice. She grew up in the home and made a promise to all of those who supported her that she would do her best always. She studied hard and graduated from university with a Bachelor of English Business. 

In 2016 she was offered a placement in Sydney, Australia to continue her English study. She was employed by Media Merchants and through exposure to a very successful marketing agency, she made the decision to complete a graphic design diploma at TAFE. Today Mook is still working for Media Merchants and recently saved enough money to travel to France and Switzerland, a dream of hers to experience a white Christmas and new years eve in Paris. A life of choice made possible through the support of Hands Across the Water, but most importantly two organisations who committed long term in the sponsorship of Mook. 

How Future of Leadership and Hands Across the Water create lasting impact

Future of Leadership is a social movement that was created back in 2013 to bring about meaningful change in the lives of 350+ Thai children supported by the Australian charity Hands Across the Water. Founded by Peter Baines OAM in 2005 following the Boxing Day Tsunami, Hands Across the Water was initially tasked with building a home for a local group of children left homeless and orphaned by the disaster. Fast forward 15 years the charity now supports seven operations throughout Thailand.  

Just like the Future of Leadership, education is the core of the work that we do at Hands Across the Water to ensure each and every child in our care lives a life of choice, rather than chance. Education is required to empower individuals with the knowledge, skills and values to live in dignity, build their lives and contribute to their societies. 

At Hands Across the Water, our goal is to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all children because

  • We believe that all children should have access to education
  • We believe that all children deserve the chance to build a future full of possibilities, opportunities and dreams
  • We believe that by providing the right support and guidance, that our kids can flourish regardless of the cards that life has dealt with. 

Future of Leadership is about educating our business leaders of today and tomorrow; Hands Across the Water is about educating our children to be the leaders of tomorrow. Together, we can bring about meaningful change.

Creating impact

If your team lives and breathes the same beliefs and values, then we encourage you to consider sponsoring a child. Together, you can pool the funds and participate in activities that will benefit your individual child today, tomorrow and in the future. 

Your monthly contribution will provide financial support to help your child re-write their story; they will have the opportunity to pursue alternative pathways to a better future once they have completed school, including traineeships in our homes or attending university. 

The investment: $100 per month

That’s cheaper than a team building exercise yet richer in the learning outcomes and the engagement. How you contribute that $100 per month is up to you. Sure, you could allocate a portion of your team building budget to cover the $1,200 per year or you could increase ownership and team buy in by encouraging them to raise the funds to support their child. The engagement could look like this:

  1. Once a month, your team is responsible for holding a bake sale to raise $100 to cover the monthly cost of sponsoring a child. Allocate each team member a month to take charge of or split the duties across different members to ensure everyone has equal buy-in and opportunity to be part of this experience. 
  2. Once a quarter, you can come together as a team to share stories, write letters or create a care package for your child. You will receive communications from your child throughout the year, the more you engage with them the more you will receive in return. 

When we commit long term, we bring about the biggest change. Sponsoring a child will unite your team and bring about significant change for one superhero. You will also welcome a new team member into the fold as your connection with your child grows.

And the great news is 100% of your monthly contribution will go directly to Thailand with not one cent spent on administration or marketing. This is made possible through our social enterprise – Hands Group – through the delivery of leadership, education and travel experiences. Whether you have attended a Future of Leadership event, joined the Member Program, or reading this magazine, you are creating a social impact just by being part of the Future of Leadership community. 

If you’d like to get your team involved in sponsoring a child please get in touch with us by emailing team@handsacrossthewater.org.au; we’d love to hear from you.