We all reach a point in our lives where we take stock and wonder if we’re on the right path. Are we really doing what we were born to do or are we just existing; going with the motions? Most of us have the desire to make a difference in the world – however big or small. But many of us won’t take that leap from what we feel we should be doing into a life of what we believe we were really born to do – perhaps out of fear, financial insecurity or just because we think it’s unrealistic.
Well that isn’t the case for Jessica Scott; and I’ve been lucky enough to meet with her and hear all about her inspirational and transformative story.
As I sat in the assembly hall at Christchurch Primary School in London and heard Jessica ask the children; “what do you want to be when you’re older?”, it got me thinking about how I would have answered that question all those years ago. Lots of little hands shot up as shouts of ‘singer’, ‘doctor’ and ‘policeman’ rang out across the room. Jessica then went on to explain to the kids how fortunate they all are to be able to work towards these career goals, and it’s all because of where they live (Britain) and the opportunities available to those living in Western societies.
Jessica is a Fundraising Officer at the charity Health Poverty Action and chief spokesperson when it comes to educating schools and communities about the life limitations of many people born in Africa, Asia and Latin America. And she knows first-hand about the debilitating poverty and poor health faced by these communities because she was there herself, as a child. But it took a traumatic life event to change her path and put her in front of me and this primary school today. Here is her story.
“What did I want to be when I was younger? Hmmm. It’s going to sound really cliché but I genuinely just wanted to do something that would change the world. Or if not the whole world, at least change somebody’s world for the better.”
Jessica grew up in East Africa and both of her parents were Doctors. They were sent out to Africa to run a hospital together and drive development work to help communities cope with and tackle health endemics like Polio.
Swahili was Jessica’s first language. Here she is pictured with friends.
Jessica, far right
When she was still young, Jessica’s parents made the decision to move back to the UK for the sake of her education, and as planned, she went on to graduate from university and get a good job in Financial Recruitment.
“I did what I thought I should do. I got myself an education and went into a professional field with plenty of potential for growth and promotion, but I knew it didn’t feel right. I always felt like I’d left a little piece of myself in Africa. For me at least, Africa is one of those countries that you can never get out of your skin. I could never forget about my time there and I returned as often as possible to see friends and just breathe it all in.”
Shortly into her career, Jessica discovered that tragically, one of her childhood friends in Tanzania – Sara – had passed away during childbirth. She soon discovered that it was a relatively simple complication that could have been easily detected and managed if Sara had the access to the healthcare that we take for granted here in the UK. Sara was just 25 years old when she died.
And it was with this news that Jessica decided to change her path and take control of her life. She knew that she had to do something “to change somebody’s world” and to try and prevent any more unnecessary deaths.
And so Jessica joined Health Poverty Action (HPA) in September 2014. She was inspired to join the charity as she passionately agreed that ‘where you are born should not determine your right to health’. HPA makes some of the most neglected populations their highest priority and recognises that the greatest causes of poor health worldwide are political, social and economic injustices (which causes unnecessary suffering on a massive scale). That is why the charity aims to tackle the root causes of poor health as well as the symptoms.
As well as strengthening health services, HPA works on areas such as nutrition, water, sanitation, immunisation, and income generation. Tackling one cause of poor health in isolation can give the appearance of improving health, but often in reality might do little more than change the cause of death. Tackling numerous factors together is what really saves lives.
“We know that it is possible for poverty to be eradicated and for health to be improved, but this requires us to make major changes to our world, including paradigm shifts in social, economic and environmental policy. We campaign for change. £60 could support a local mobile health clinic for four months and make it possible for people in remote parts of Ethiopia have access to maternal and child health services – an area which is particularly close to my heart.”
And so Jessica remains dedicated to spreading the word about how important it is that we are all aware of our ability to make a difference to somebody’s world.
Jessica, centre, cheering on volunteers at the London Marathon
Fundraising and awareness building are now at the centre of Jessica’s working life. If you have been touched by her story and would like to help support this worthwhile cause, step in and stomp with us! We’re making a noise in support of Health Poverty Action.
The School Stomp
The School Stomp is a sponsored walk for children designed to raise money for some of the world’s poorest communities. It is an event suitable for all ages and encourages students to think about health and poverty whilst doing an activity which is good for their health. The walk costs £1 per child and 96p from every £1 received goes towards Health Poverty Action’s work overseas – where it’s needed most. The remaining 4p goes towards ensuring that the charity’s work is sustainable and brings lasting change. What’s more, due to the way HPA is funded, for every £1 raised by the general public, Health Poverty Action can raise a further £14 from larger institutional funders.
Here we are stomping out inequality and raising awareness with Christchurch school. Well done to all who participated – you did a great job!
If you’d like to get involved and support this fantastic charity, visit the Health Poverty Action website.
Raising Money for Health Poverty Action is Free at Savoo.co.uk
Yes, that’s right. For every ‘Google search’ you make at savoo.co.uk (a Bing powered search engine) Savoo will donate 1p of its own money to Health Poverty Action. Think about how often you use Google and how many pennies that could mean for HPA every day.
And if you’re an online shopper, why not check out the enormous range of free Savoo voucher codes which help you save money on your shopping AND mean more donations from Savoo direct to Health Poverty Action? Find out more and get started today.