I was pretty active in college. I joined quite a lot of events and most of the time my friends trust me to be the fundraiser. I was always confident to hold that role until I joined a social event where the goal isn’t just to “have a music concert” or “show a theatre play”, but to build a proper school for children in a rural village--somewhere in the East of Java, a place even I didn’t know existed.
At first, I pulled out my old but gold strategy: sponsors. Unfortunately, it was around the end of the year, so most companies have already used up their CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) funds. Plus, it was so hard to find companies who are interested in our program because the people in this area are not their target market.
Frustrated, I was ready to give up. But the universe decided that it wasn’t the time for me to give up.
I was in my bedroom, which looked more like a junkyard when my mother shouted at me, “Clean your room, lah! You buy so many things. Look at this, I never see you wear it. What a waste, lah!”
I hardly ever listen to my mother, but this time she has a point. Well, she always has a point, I just never listened.
Look, I have too much stuff, but those people in the village are lacking. It’s ironic. I live in such excess, while others can’t even go to school---not because they don’t want to, but because they don’t have a school.
So, on the next committee meeting, I came up with the fundraising solution of gathering our secondhand stuff and sell them. It’s actually a classic method of a garage sale, it just never occurred to me because I often see garage sale when people are moving out of a house.
It wasn’t easy, you know, because of two things: I personally couldn’t let go of my possessions and so do others in the committee. We kept reminding ourselves that this stuff isn’t as precious for us, it won’t contribute much to our lives. But maybe if letting it go can be a blessing for others, then so be it.
Eventually, we managed to gather enough stuff to hold a garage sale. There were secondhand clothes, books, DVDs, CDs, even uniforms. We were quite shocked to see how many people are excited to buy a pair of funny patterned socks or vintage DVDs. One man’s trash is another’s treasure, after all.
Although our booth was crowded, there are still some items left. So, we sorted out the decent ones to be brought when we visit the village. The rest had to go to the recycling bin.
With some help from our campus and a bit more fundraising, we managed to gather enough money to build a humble school in the village. Only a three-room building, actually. I was a bit discouraged but was surprised when the villagers and children showed so much gratitude to us. When the school was finished, our team visited and some stayed for a few weeks to kickstart teaching the classes.
The experience opened my eyes to how so many people are surrounded by excessive stuff, while others are lacking at the same time. But we can trim the excess and give it to others who need it more.