Daniela, Senior Direct Approach Team Leader.

For more than a year, Daniela has been out on the streets signing up child sponsors for Plan International Australia. Here, she talks about the highs and lows of her day job.

What does a typical day on the job look like for you?

My day kicks off with training at 8am at the Plan International Australia office for about an hour. Then I make my way over to the site I’ll be working at for the day. It might be a shopping centre, a suburb if I’m door-knocking or right in the middle of the CBD. On an average day I stop up to 65 people, but might only actually get to talk to about half.

Tell us about the team you work with.

I love the team! The diversity of our backgrounds is definitely one of our strengths: different cultures, different stories, different reasons why we love what we do, while at the same time sharing the same core values.

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What’s the best thing about your job?

The impact of what we do can go very, very far. In a few minutes we can change many lives, starting with the person who becomes a child sponsor, and their sponsored child!

What’s the hardest thing about your job?

Definitely the rejection – particularly people who are rude and don’t understand the value of face-to-face fundraising.

Tell us about your most memorable conversation.

There are so many to remember! There’s one that sticks in my mind though. I was working at a train station in Melbourne when I saw someone approaching me, and as soon as we made eye contact she smiled (it’s so nice when they do that!) I asked why she looked so bright and happy. “It’s just who I am,” she said. “My name is Zahra, it means radiant and brilliant.”

We got chatting and I realised she had an incredible story. Zahra came to Australia as refugee from Afghanistan, where she was working as a high-school teacher. Being passionate about girls’ rights, she also spent time volunteering in remote areas, teaching young girls to read and write. We spoke about how Plan empowers girls through education, and I mentioned some stories and projects from Uganda.

It was the first time Zahra came across a charity in Australia and the first time she heard about child sponsorship. She got really excited at the idea of sponsoring a girl in Uganda. The opportunity to help somebody was one of the things she missed the most from home. As a teenager, Zahra always spared her own money to help less-privileged kids in her neighbourhood. Since arriving in Australia, she had been looking for someone to help, but “here everyone has everything! There’s no-one that really needs my help!” So she decided to sponsor a girl from Uganda.

Before walking away she hugged me and thanked me for giving her the chance to do something so special.

Oh, If only every conversation was like that!

What’s the most common reason people decline the chance to sponsor? How do you respond?

Not being able to afford child sponsorship. What I like to do is illustrate some real-life examples of how simple it is to put aside $48 a month. Like making your own lunch and taking that to work, rather than eating out.

Have you met any sceptics that you eventually talked around?

Yes - and it’s the best feeling. I remember having a long conversation with a University mathematics professor originally from Egypt, who had fairly strong views on how to make the world a better place. It was only after a very heated debate he finally agreed that even if all the problems of the world cannot be solved through a donation, the small help that you can provide can mean the world for someone, even if it’s just one person. So he ended up signing on as a Supporter of Change.

What do you do when you’re not signing up Plan supporters?

Being still fairly new to the city I spend a lot of time experiencing the beauties of Melbourne like art, culture, food and music, its parks and the seaside. Oh, and I love to cook, like any real Italian!

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