Mandala Trust Newsletter Spring 2021

Dear friend of the Mandala Trust,

For most of us, this past year has been dominated by COVID-19. The pandemic has exposed the fragility and inequality of our global economy like nothing before it, and tragically it is very often the most marginalised and deprived children across the planet who are being hit the hardest. Many of the communities and organisations that the Mandala Trust has supported over the years are reporting encountering unprecedented challenges as a result of this unfolding crisis.

Yet throughout this difficult time it is also uplifting to witness the values of generosity, kindness and compassion that the Mandala Trust holds so dear manifested through the countless acts of mutual aid that continue to blossom in communities across the planet. And as we navigate an equally uncertain 2021 we wanted to say a big thank you to our supporters, volunteers and donors for making it possible for us to continue our work of supporting children and young people in vulnerable situations around the world, and to update you on our activities.

Looking Back

Of course as 2020 unfolded the Covid-19 pandemic presented huge challenges which inevitably curtailed some of our activity. Nevertheless, we have still been able to assist some great projects:

  • Providing essential reference books for a school library in Seir, a small village in Palestine.
  • Funding a mobile health project in the beautiful and remote Simien Mountains of Ethiopia, delivering adolescent and youth reproductive and sexual health support.
  • Offering further education scholarships for disadvantaged students in Palestine.
  • Initiating the installation of solar power for a primary school in an Indonesian island community, as part of a project to make online learning accessible to the pupils in a sustainable way. Unfortunately this work is currently paused due to the particular risks posed by the pandemic to these island communities, but to be resumed in 2021 as soon as is safe.
  • Helping the Koinonia project in Liberia to increase their classroom space and library, as well as buying equipment for a youth football team and a choir. These activities are particularly important to help the young people of the area, so traumatised by the Liberian civil wars and the outbreaks of Ebola, to recover and thrive.
  • Funding the Balagrama boys’ hostel in Tamil Nadu, India to buy computers for the boys they support, to enable them to continue their vital education while their school is closed.
  • Supporting a youth project, Change4Change in Mfuleni Township, Cape Town, South Africa to acquire and equip simple premises to provide a safe and supportive space for the young people in their community who face many challenges including poverty, lack of opportunity and violence, helping them to realise their potential through mentoring programs, discussion and creative expression.
  • We are also delighted to have continued our work with the volunteer organisation Helping Refugees in Jordan in its inspiring projects to provide high quality, compassionate education for traumatised Syrian and Iraqi refugee children throughout this period.

But lockdown did have at least a few benefits in 2020 – one of which was a full revamp of the Mandala Trust website. This will make it even easier to keep up to date with the work of our partner projects on the ground. This upgrade was made possible thanks to two generous donations, one of money and one of skills. If you have any feedback about the site, we’d love to hear from you – just email us.

Looking Forward

As we continue our work in 2021 and the many unknowns the year still holds, we look forward to some of the exciting work we have planned:

  • We will of course continue to look for new, innovative grassroots projects to support as the year goes on.  And we already have a major new project underway to support our friends at Operation Kindness Mexico to get their new Youth Plastic Recycling Project off the ground.  The project will engage in environmental education with local schools and encourage the wider community to collect plastic waste in order for it to be recycled into ‘plastic wood’ – a high-density polyethylene material which is ideal for outdoor use as it has a life of around 500 years.  The profits from the project will then fund a ‘kindness school’ and permaculture project which will deliver youth education programmes which focus on being kind to ourselves, to each other, and to the planet we live on.  You can visit the project fundraising page here.
  • 2021 will see us developing the capacity of our International Advisory Group (IAG), consisting of representatives of some of the organisations which have previously partnered with, or received support from, the Mandala Trust.  You can meet the IAG group members and learn about their work here.
  • We will also be piloting a mentoring scheme for new projects this year.  Previous Mandala Trust grant recipients and project leads will offer support and in-country mentoring to new projects starting up.  This kind of support from a mentor who understands the specific cultural and geographical conditions and challenges will be highly valuable for new projects in their early development.  It is hoped that the scheme will continue to ground the Mandala Trust’s work in the community level, and encourage/perpetuate a support network between such grassroots projects.

Request for Feedback

As we move forward, we are particularly keen to work more and more closely with our supporters.  To this end, we would be so grateful if you could take just a few minutes to fill out a very short survey that will help us understand what projects and causes are closest to your heart.  This will really help to guide us as we decide which projects to focus on.

Get Involved!

It is a constant source of joy to be involved in the work of the Mandala Trust. Over the years this growing web of kindness has led to many inspiring projects taking shape around the globe. Through targeting organisations and individuals working for their communities at a grassroots level, and supporting them through small grants, capacity building, and developing sustainability, we have been able to achieve real and lasting benefits for the children and young people we aim to serve. As a small charity run entirely by volunteers, our priority has always been to use our resources to enable and support grassroots projects that would struggle to obtain mainstream funding. As a result we don’t use any of our resources for marketing, and this means that we rely entirely on our network of friends and supporters to keep this work alive. With this in mind we would welcome your continued support in 2021, and there are a number of ways in which you might help:

  • Spread the word! Please let your friends, families and networks know about the Mandala Trust.
  • Consider organising a fundraiser in your local community, school or workplace. It’s a fun way to support the Mandala Trust and build awareness of our work.  If you like the idea but don’t know where to start, please contact us and we will be happy to offer advice and support.
  • If you have skills that you think might help us in our work why not consider becoming a volunteer?  As an entirely volunteer-run organisation we welcome all the help we can get, so please get in touch if you are interested in getting involved.
  • And of course you can support our work financially.  Every donation, of whatever size, helps to support the simple acts of kindness that our world so desperately needs right now, and particularly the children and young people growing up in these difficult times.  You can do this very easily, by either making a one-off donation, or setting up a regular standing order, online via the donate page on our website.

With love and best wishes,
Di, Brigid, Kathryn, Pam, Isla and Matt
The Mandala Trust Trustees