For our year-end post, we asked a supporter to share a personal story about why she cares about the organization and our partners.  You can show your support for WITNESS by visiting our website to make a year-end donation. Thanks to Stephanie Zito  for her support and to all of you who support us throughout the year.

By Stephanie Zito

One of the casualties of working in the not-for-profit world for many years is that when you’re surrounded by need day in and out for so long, at some point you stop seeing it. This year, it dawned on me that while I’d given nearly 15 years of my career to making a difference in the humanitarian world, I’d somewhere lost my idealism to do so in the process. Armed with determination to re-discover my will to make the world better I decided that every day for one year I’d find a different project that was succeeding in bringing change and make a financial donation of 10 dollars to support it.

Ten dollars doesn’t seem to be much, and you probably think that such a small donation can really make a difference in a world of so much need. Honestly, I wasn’t sure either if it did when I started, but I was on a 365 day giving quest to find out.

On my 198th day of this mission, called the #give10 project, I happened to see a tweet from WITNESS about land grabbing at Boeung Kak lake in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Ironically, while I’d been living in Cambodia’s capital city for nearly two years, and while I’d surely heard about the land grabbing and forced evictions taking place just a few miles from my house, I confess that hadn’t been paying much attention. Just like anywhere else in the world it’s too easy to be caught up in day to day living and turn a blind-eye to injustice happening right in your own neighborhood. Even as a professional do-gooder, I realized I was guilty of not caring.

I gave my $10 donation to WITNESS that day and started following them, not only because they were talking about an issue in my neighborhood, but because we could all use a little more awareness of the many of hidden injustices and human rights abuses happening around the world.

I think WITNESS is onto something in their quest to marry truth and technology as a powerful combination to give voice to the many who have been silenced for so long. Traditionally, the charity world has operated like the journalism world. Outside correspondents report on other people’s stories. Yet, digital technology has turned this upside down. In the age of Twitter and iReports, we don’t rely on big networks to tell us what is happening in the world. Communications is becoming more grassroots, and I love that WITNESS is plugging into this space and advocating for issues by helping people raise their own voices.

While my singular $10 may not go very far, after 9 months of giving, I am convinced that it does make a difference, and I’m on my way to starting a movement of generosity. If everyone could #give10, we’d have a lot more resources combined to make change.

I see the work of WITNESS in a similar way. If only one person suffering injustice speaks out, their voice may not by very loud. But if we create a movement for many to speak out and join their voices to be heard, change is imminent.

A little can go a long way. What small part can you play?


Stephanie Zito is an American do-gooder living in Cambodia. Her mission in life is to see the world, change the world, and have fun doing it. She writes about her adventures in life and giving at Follow @wanderingzito to track the #give10 project on Twitter.


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