Charting a path for the livelihoods of generations to come, Gulf for Good has been at the forefront of working tirelessly for good through its slew of charity projects and fund-raising. From reaching out and brightening the lives of children world-over to empowering people to change their lives, here is an organization lighting up lives, one initiative at a time.
As the powerful saying of the revolutionary Winston Churchill goes, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” These virtues of giving back and being the light for those whose lives are engulfed in darkness drives Gulf for Good (G4G), a non-profit charity organization and its people. From fund-raising to charity projects towards building and expanding housing and educational facilities for orphaned Tanzanian children, weather-resistant school facilities for children in the mountainous regions of Peru, to eco-friendly homes and farms for children in Nepal, G4G’s remarkable contribution towards causes definitely tugs at heartstrings!
At the helm of driving this is Anne Edmondson, Chairwoman, Gulf for Good, who has devoted a lifetime to work for the greater good.
A Different Kind of Adventure
Anne shares that living in the UAE and bringing up her family here, she wanted her children to understand the privilege that the incredible country carries with it. For many years, she would choose alternative adventures for family holidays, always incorporating charity or community work on their travels. “Our children have helped to build homes in Cambodia with Habitat for Humanity, have helped rescue turtles and mucked out in the elephant sanctuary in Srilanka, engaged with disadvantaged kids in Nepal, to name a few,” she remarks.
Her journey started when the opportunity arose to go on a Gulf for Good challenge with a friend to raise funds for an orphanage in Nepal, and she signed up immediately. Little did she know that this challenge, which involved hiking the Annapurna Circuit and crossing the highest pass in the world, would change the direction of her life forever. “I came off that mountain completely invigorated, empowered to take on more. If I could achieve this challenge, what else was I capable of? Not only this but meeting the children who benefited from our fundraising efforts was deeply moving. I wanted to do more, to get more involved, to be somehow a bigger part of this amazing charity: I was hooked!” she reminisces.
Since then, Anne has been part of many community and corporate challenges, visited and supported numerous Gulf for Good projects, worked as the charity director of the organization for several years before taking on what she exclaims as her biggest and best challenge as Chairwoman.
Weathering The Storms
According to her, the turning point of it all really was that despite the pandemic throwing challenges of various dimensions at Gulf for Good, the organization weathered that storm by being adaptable and restrategized themselves by launching various virtual fun events diversifying its activities.
“Before Covid-19, Gulf for Good’s model as a non-profit organization had been to raise awareness and much-needed funding for grassroots projects in the developing world by taking people on adventure challenges. However, the pandemic caused us to take a hard look at ourselves: how were we to continue to support the children we had committed to help when all travel opportunities were closed? Covid threatened not only our ability to give, but our sustainability was also in jeopardy,” Anne shares. In an effort to mitigate the risk and continue to do the good work, the organization then set off on a new course- they not only launched a new brand of virtual challenges, including the now Annual Virtual Burj Khalifa Climb challenge but also diversified the activities to offer other opportunities to raise those much-needed funds.
Today, Gulf for Good is a more dynamic organization: increasingly open to alternative means of fundraising, committed to expanding its outreach to support children worldwide. A proud Anne remarks, “I have no doubt that our charity has benefited from lateral thinking through our recent circumstances. Our community has really come together, and we are in a better position financially than before the pandemic through the launches of these new approaches.”
As the world slowly begins to re-open and Gulf for Good is able to take on more international challenges safely, it is now launching its new shorter charity challenges, with further corporate activities in the pipeline. “We are also launching a new volunteer charity challenge, with a deeper focus on working on one of our projects and making a practical difference to the lives of the children, in addition to our regular adventure challenges,” Anne reveals. The organization is launching its first-ever challenge to Kyrgyzstan next month, taking 25 like-minded UAE residents on a hiking challenge to raise funds for SOS children’s villages in Kyrgyzstan.
Anne shares that both her parents have been hugely influential in her life, instilling in her siblings and her the importance of giving back and insisting on treating everyone fairly. “That value system fostered by my parents and my own faith in a loving God has been the backbone of my life and given me the desire to do good where I can.
Gulf for Good is the embodiment of all that I hold dear, and I am eternally grateful for the opportunity to serve. Ultimately, it is the children I’ve met at the various initiatives we support who are the real inspiration,” she asserts.
While there have been reams of examples that have had a profound impact on the organization’s noteworthy contributions towards the society and only keep them going upwards and onwards, Anne narrates of one that she was deeply moved by. It was when the Gulf for Good team had been trekking in Morocco, climbing Mount Toubkal, to raise funds for a local charity, Education for All- a charity that supports girls in the mountainous regions who would not otherwise be able to go to secondary school. Here the G4G team met Zahira and Hajar, who were the first girls in their villages to go to secondary school and university. As Zahira said, “We want to be successful women who can then choose our own husband when we are ready to get married. The essence of Gulf for Good is that, by challenging yourself, not only do you help others, but you yourself are empowered to be a better you: fitter, stronger and hopefully spreading more kindness in the world,” says Anne with an air of finality.