Happy 10th birthday to us!
It has been an incredibly exciting and inspiring decade for PHASE. To celebrate our 10th birthday Nick Cragg, chair of trustees at PHASE Worldwide, and Marie Cragg, a core supporter, look back on some of the charity’s greatest achievements.
How did PHASE come about?
Nick: I was involved with the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme in the late 90’s and I was asked to go to Lontong (in the North East of Nepal) to devise a program which would enable 12 young people to go to Nepal, do some good, and get their gold award. So I did, and I fell in love with Nepal. In fact I paid for a young girl to leave Lontong and travel to Katmandu to get an education. When I told Marie about this she was horrified as no proper diligence had been done! She got straight on a plane and made sure that the girl, named Lamu, was okay and settled in to a school. Marie also loved Nepal, and was instrumental in organizing another trip to the country with her friend Gerda Pohl (a GP and trustee of PHASE Worldwide)… And then Gerda fell in love with it too!
Gerda began to work in Nepal for a charity called SWAN (Social Welfare Association of Nepal). She lived in a place called Narayansthan, and spent a year there learning Nepali, supported by Marie and I and her friends. Gerda then joined Community Action Nepal (another NGO) where she met Jiban Karki (director of PHASE Nepal). A while later Gerda visited us and suggested that perhaps we should found a charity ourselves, rather than supporting her through other organisations. She thought that we might do a better job of it – and that’s how PHASE got started.
What does Practical Help Achieving Self Empowerment mean to you?
Nick: Well it’s very, very important to us. We came up with the name sat round our kitchen table.
Marie: Yes, we put key words down – empowerment, help, practical help – words which symbolised what we thought and what we wanted to do. As the words started to appear on the the page, Nick came up with the idea of using an acronym. He is dyslexic so we were very amazed when he came up with PHASE! It’s suitable as it represents so many things – a phase in your life, for example. And because ‘practical help achieving self-empowerment’ means that we are giving people help to help themselves. We don’t plan to remain in communities forever, we empower them instead – so we phase in and phase out. We were quite proud of that.
It’s been 10 years since PHASE began. Do you have any favourite moments?
Nick: There are so many! Fundraising events are instrumental as, without fundraising, we wouldn’t have been so successful. It has been hard work and Marie has been central to this. In the early days we were operated on an entirely voluntary basis and it was hard to think of new ways to raise money – but then Marie had an idea to do a giant bike race –
Marie: That was one of my favourites!
Nick: – and other amazing things like the fire walks. We also had a PHASElets club where lots of children got involved in fundraising. But for me, my favourite fundraising event was when we got the Scots Guards to come to Rotherham and perform for PHASE. People said that it couldn’t be done; ”they won’t travel past Watford”, but they did! They came to Rotherham and we raised an awful lot of money. It was a big moment for PHASE which put us on the Yorkshire map – it was a glam event.
Aside from fundraising, when you look at what we have achieved in Nepal, what gives me tremendous pleasure is knowing that we are working with those who are marginalized; particularly women and children, and we are providing role models to remote communities through the staff that we have. Most of our staff are young women, and they are proud and empowered – they wear the PHASE badge proudly. Young females from similar backgrounds in Nepal aspire to be as strong as our staff. The value of self-empowerment doesn’t stop with communities in Nepal, it runs right through our organisation; through PHASE Worldwide, PHASE Nepal and PHASE Austria, and through our trustees, our staff, our supporters, and our volunteers. Everybody has been empowered by PHASE and is richer for it.
Marie: Well I’m just going to give you one example of a favourite moment. It comes from something that I firmly believe; that money makes the world go round… well, money and love! Too many people think that money is a dirty word but actually, in the right hands, and spent on the right things, money is a force for good.
My best memory was in the early years when we started the PHASElets club, a group of 10 children aged 7-13. The idea was that they would raise money doing what they wanted to do, in the way that they wanted to do it. For their very first big event they cooked a meal in our home for 36 high-powered people, including a government minister. They cooked a 3 course dinner from scratch; they did 3 starters, 3 mains and about 5 desserts. At the end of the night I looked at these children, with their chef’s hats and aprons on, and they had such a look of achievement and empowerment on their faces. They were so empowered that they chose a spokesperson, all by themselves without any help from the adults, who gave a speech and thanked everyone for coming! They raised £1500 on that night and they did it by themselves. It was then that I realised that we had something really special in our charity.