Posted by: Liza Rosenberg | February 14, 2010

What have you done to change the world today?

Have you ever read a book that stirred something within you, a book that truly inspired you to act? Against the backdrop of the recent earthquake in Haiti, I found myself reading just such a book – “A Beginner’s Guide to Changing the World: For Tibet with Love“, by London-based writer Isabel Losada. Granted, it was recommended to me by the author herself, so I admit to having a bias. Personal connections aside, though, this book was incredible. Not only did it raise my awareness regarding a subject that I knew very little about (Tibet); it also reinforced a concept that I’d already proved at least once in the past – the idea that one person CAN make a difference.

As I mentioned, I was reading “A Beginner’s Guide to Changing the World” when the earthquake struck in Haiti last month. Like everyone I knew, I was horrified by the stories I was hearing, driven to tears by the images I was seeing. I felt frustrated and I felt helpless. I felt like I HAD to do something. I couldn’t sit back and do nothing, and I was positively engrossed in a book whose author was challenging me to act with every turn of the page. The question was, what could I do? What could I, as an Israel-based writer/blogger with a fairly extensive social network, do? I wracked my brain and consulted with friends. I considered fundraising possibilities, given my limited resources and other constraints. I came up with a list of ideas, and not knowing where else to turn, I sent an email to the contact person for an organization listed in a number of messages I’d received via a mailing list. That person was Shachar Zahavi, founder and chairperson for IsraAID – The Israel Forum for International Humanitarian AID.

Shachar and I spoke on the phone, and then we arranged a meeting. I looked at IsraAID’s website and immediately liked what I saw. According to the site’s tagline, this was an organization that acts as “a coordinating body of Israeli and Jewish organizations and other interested parties based in Israel who are active in development and relief work and are concerned about global issues”. I was impressed by the variety of groups that comprised IsraAID, groups such as Save a Child’s Heart, F.I.R.S.T. (search and rescue teams, such as the team helping to coordinate Israeli relief efforts in Haiti), the Jerusalem AIDS Project, the Israeli Friends of the Tibetan People (and don’t forget that I was reading a book about Tibet at the time, so this excited me to no end)… The list goes on and on. This was an umbrella organization that resonated with me on so many different levels, an organization whose members supported issues with which I could easily identify. I wanted to get involved. I wanted to help; I wanted to contribute. I wanted to do whatever I could to somehow make a difference and effect change.

By the end of my meeting with Shachar, I was excited and I was hooked. We discussed what I could do to help and began to formulate a plan of action. After spending so many years having my soul slowly sucked away by hi-tech, I was finally doing something to take it back. I was finally going to use my skills and talents (such as they are) to volunteer for a cause that I was passionate about, and it felt so, so good. And of course, I owe it all to a book and to the author who inspired me to act.

Check out “A Beginner’s Guide to Changing the World”, by Isabel Losada (I love her writing style!), and check out IsraAID – The Israel Forum for International Humanitarian AID (and be sure to follow the organization on both Facebook and Twitter). I can’t imagine you’ll be disappointed by either. You CAN change the world.

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