Why we're supporting The Dust Project
Holly Cleland, MI Manager and Adam Rushin, COO explain why getting hands-on is a more satisfying way to support a charity than simply signing a cheque.
Last year, our Hiscox London Market CEO – Kate Markham – went to a fundraising event in London profiling work of the UK-based Dust Project, which helps disadvantaged children in Sri Lanka by building projects and child sponsorship. Fast forward seven months and, together with eight other Hiscox London Market employees, we’ve recently returned from Sri Lanka, having built, with The Dust Project, Hiscox’s first home for a disadvantaged family.
The Bunny’s Money
The project was funded by a series of fundraising events, resulting in over £10,000 being raised through a mixture of dress down days – evidence of our Chief Underwriting Officer in an Easter Bunny costume available – bake sales, quiz nights, golf days, and even a triathlon. The money raising proved to be the easy part. We wanted to be more involved than simply sending money and The Dust Project gave us the opportunity to see some of the problems for ourselves, but more importantly, provide some welcome help in building much needed houses.
We were lucky enough to meet the family whose home we were building, whilst our normal desk-based 9-5 in London was replaced with manual labour, without modern-day construction tools and in sweltering heat. This is far from the modern four bed semi with attached garage that will spring to mind for most of us; it’s a strong, sturdy and simple construction that will be life-changing for a family with nothing else.
We all expected it to be physically hard, however particularly with the visit to the refugee camp we all became emotionally vested in the project. Visiting a house no more than a shack (your garden sheds will be better) with a family of five young children including an eight month old baby with HIV was heart-breaking.
We are committed to making a difference for the longer term too and hope this will be a continued partnership between the charity and Hiscox, as The Dust Project works to build 20 houses in the next five years. It’s a small scale charity making a real difference and we want to be part of that.
As well as the construction efforts, we have also decided to sponsor Delajini (pictured) who lives in the orphanage for abused girls; a sponsorship will see her through her education and give her a new start in life. Also, having struggled to chisel through solid rock with just pick axes and Gandalf (a metal pole with a spike on it), we donated an electric drill to the Dust Project. This will help them complete the build on the next 20 houses that they have planned.
As part of our Hiscox Gives initiative – which supports charities chosen by our employees whilst encouraging volunteering among staff – our work with The Dust Project has been an incredible bonding experience but, more importantly, it is helping to provide for some of Sri Lanka’s poorest and forgotten people.