Amalia was our Communications and Fundraising Intern from October 2018 until January 2019, here is her experience:
I wanted to get involved with an organisation that makes a difference in peoples’ lives, that has social impact and reach, and I knew a charity or NGO would provide that opportunity. I read about Lepra’s work and I was surprised to find out leprosy was still so prevalent. The more I started looking into it the more I wanted to get involved. The charity seemed to have a high degree of expertise and their initiatives aimed to tackle not only the disease but also to provide the right environment for people to deal with the consequences of having it.
I knew this 9 a.m. was going to be different from all the others. While thinking about different scenarios of what my day was going to be like, with the guidance of Google maps, I have finally made my way into the building. I buzzed the intercom and was guided towards the heart of the charity. This was where the magic happened, the second floor. I quickly rushed to Olivia, my supervisor whom I have exchanged e-mails with. She was like an anchor, a friendly face that gave you the feeling that you will conquer the unknown.
Olivia introduced me to everyone in the Lepra team, and I realised that I was in the same diverse environment that I was accustomed to from university. People were happy to talk about their experience and expertise which gave me a glimpse into the different dimensions that come together to make a charity fulfill its aims. In some way, I felt like I was learning about the anatomy of a charity.
After setting up at my desk, I had the pleasure to meet Geoff, the CEO, who I found to be a very inspirational person due to his extensive knowledge of the issues surrounding leprosy and because of the dedication that he conveyed. Our conversation ranged from the history of leprosy and the prejudice attached to the disease, the consequences it has on mental health, to state-of-the-art treatment and diagnosis approaches. I was just starting to understand the variety of issues that are still to be tackled and how the charity’s work goes beyond diagnosis and treatment, aiming to help those affected live happy and fulfilling lives.
I was very eager to apply my skills in every aspect I could in order to contribute to this amazing cause. As a psychology undergraduate I am very accustomed to carrying out in depth research which turned out to be key to any fundraising activity. I was able to research events the charity could get involved in, philanthropists that would support our cause, services that charities could use to aid donations.
I learned a lot about the sector by looking into the guidelines put forward by bodies such as the Institute of Fundraising and The Charity Commission and supporting the Communications team to devise up to date policies. Managing Lepra’s social media allowed me to exercise my creative flair. I was encouraged to try out new things and received support all the way through.
One day, the other volunteers and I got to decorate a Christmas tree at the Lion Walk Church as part of the Christmas Tree Festival. It was a very creative day
as we quickly designed Lepra themed decorations. We played with fonts and icons and then printed and glued them. It was like a DIY project that culminated in decorating and exhibiting the “Lepra tree”.
As well as learning a wide range of skills specific to my position, working at Lepra helped me learn a lot about myself, my motivations, my strengths and weaknesses.
As a whole, the experience has showed me the tremendous goals that can be achieved when people come together to support a cause. I have also learned the importance of setting high targets and not being afraid to try unconventional things, because even if an idea does not work out, there is something to learn from having tried.
I want to continue working for organisations with a social mission. I would love creating audio-visual content that helps communicate a message or documenting the experiences of people who are facing certain issues to create awareness.
I would recommend an internship at Lepra to anyone with a passion for helping others and shaping the world, no matter their background.
I am very grateful for the opportunity to work with such dedicated people and learn from them. Everyone was extremely supportive, caring and understanding. Also, thank you for all the cake!