Ripple Effect could not do what it does without our network of volunteer Ambassadors. They play a vital role in raising awareness about our work. Here, Gwyneth Easson talks about her role as an Ambassador and how she first got involved with Ripple Effect.
I had the opportunity to accompany my husband Lindsay on a trip to Ethiopia in 2016 to see Ripple Effect’s work, and up until then I really knew very little about what I considered an agricultural charity.
It was an amazing trip and it was a real privilege to hear about the work from the local Ripple Effect staff and the farmers themselves. It was lovely to see a husband and wife working together on their small farm and hear how they no longer worried about having enough food to feed their family. A significant part of the programmes addressed issues of gender equality and the men were very open when they talked about helping their wives get the water and working in their garden. There was a sense of partnership that was a completely new experience.
In a remote village we ate the most delicious potatoes that were shared with us and during our discussions, a man asked me how climate change impacted my family. We may complain about more extremes with wetter winters and hot summers but there is never any shortage of food for my family.
When I returned home I decided to train for an extreme challenge as a way of raising funds for Ripple Effect and being able to share with friends about their work. I completed a 100 km walk around the Isle of Wight in 27 hours and raised over £2000.
I decided to become a volunteer Ambassador so that I would have a greater understanding of Ripple Effect's work and could use more opportunities to share with others and hopefully raise more money.
I enjoyed my first Ambassadors’ Workshop Weekend earlier this year and it was marvelous to hear a first-hand account of how Ripple Effect started and the excitement when the first cows arrived safely in Uganda. I am very impressed with the impact reports that show how the projects are monitored to ensure that they are having a positive impact not only for the individual farmers but also for the larger community.
Ripple Effect have a passion for working with the most vulnerable people in communities it is wonderful to hear how widows and disabled adults gain a sense of self-respect and dignity by acquiring new farming skills, producing great vegetables and having healthy livestock.
The past year has been an exciting year for me personally. After 30 years working as a doctor in the NHS, I retired and trained as a health coach and Pilates teacher. Lindsay and I have been hard at work over the past few months and I now have a small studio and patio area in the garden. During Advent I have run a special series of Pilates classes which have included a time of mediation thinking about the stories of the women in the Christmas story. All proceeds from these classes will be donated to Ripple Effect. Having this space will also give us an opportunity of hosting other events to share more about Ripple Effect.
I also am looking forward to my second Ultra Challenge with the Cotswold Way challenge on the last weekend of June. I aim to complete the 100 km walk in under 24 hours this time and hopefully raise more money for Ripple Effect.
With Ripple Effect I have confidence that all the money raised in the UK will be used wisely and it will make a difference to so many families in Africa. When in Ethiopia, I saw it for myself and I will never forget one farmer who became very excited as he talked to us standing in his small plot with row upon row of beautiful vegetables. He shouted, “What you must understand is that Ripple Effect pulled me and my family out of poverty!”