In an age of technology, consumerism, and individualistic pursuit, I find it hard to find peers who are interested in engaging others with social issues that continue to plague the lives of the oppressed everyday. I remember first hearing of Sofia’s brilliant work in raising awareness and money for people in sickle cell, when it was included in a portion of my tutor assembly aiding her hard work. I interviewed her to find out more about her process, charity and community effort.


CR: So when you were first researching sickle cell, what statistic shocked you the most? 


SF: Well, while making the assembly, to inform people about the disorder, I was trying to research what someone with sickle cell would go through on a day-to-day basis, because I thought it was important for people to know that people struggle with this disorder, and that's why it's so important to find money for it. And I discovered that people who have sickle cell, who are between the ages of 2 and 16, are at higher risk of getting strokes. And I think that really scared me, because I was 16 bordering on 17 when I found that out. It’s scary to think that when you're a child with this disorder, you have to constantly worry about not just your bones and your organs and blood transmissions, but the fact (1:07) that you might get a stroke one day.



CR: So what first got you into wanting to do charity work for sickle cell?


SF: Since I was 12, I've gone to a youth club, we do a few fundraisers here and there, and the whole thing is state-run, specifically for underprivileged children. I've always also volunteered there, so I've always wanted to give something back to the community, and I just felt like sickle cell was just something people don't talk about.  I didn't know it was such a difficult thing for people to deal with. 


CR:Yeah, like I think people acknowledge it's an (2:01) issue, but they don't do enough to actually bring about change. Yeah, I don't think people know what (2:05) to do.


SF:I think you hear about this stuff and you just kind of go on with your life, because A,  it doesn't affect you, and B, because you think there's nothing you can do, when in reality there is. 


CR: Yeah, honestly. I mean, do you think that engaging with charity and helping others is something  that's really missing in our generation? Because you really stood out for me in our year, because I think a lot of people aren’t engaged with anything other than their own lives, in that sense. Like, it's very hard to see people who are genuinely very motivated to help others in that kind of way. 


SF: I think, yeah, I've always been motivated to kind of give back to the  community, because I guess, well, I didn't grow up here, you know. I came here when I was eight, and it was like a whole new world. So I think I know what it's like to not have so many opportunities. So when I came here, I was given so many opportunities at school,  my youth club, after-school clubs, to just do so many things. 


CR: Yeah, because community intervention is so important. There should be more done in community work, because it can prevent crime.And it further means that so many more people from underprivileged backgrounds are motivated to change their own lives. It's a shame that the government doesn't fund that. So tell me about the fundraising process as well.


SF: It was very difficult. 


CR: Was it hard to get the school on board? 


SF: Yes, partially. The teacher running things was very motivated to try to do something. But there's so many things that we can't do as a school. There was a lot of pressure to make some money. However, I didn't get any guidance. So it was like I was going  into it with a blindfold on. And I would try to propose things, like an own clothes day for the younger years, and the teacher denied that.Then, I wanted to do other fundraisers, but you have to jump through so many hoops if you want to buy things or deal with money. In the end, I kind of found myself running out of time, so I decided okay I'm just gonna try to get some of my friends together, and we're gonna go around collecting donations. Because anything we can do to get some money for the charity is something. I'm actually kind of glad it was such a difficult process, because I got to share that with my successor. I already have a successor, and I gotta tell her all about what I struggled with, and so everything will be a hundred times easier for her. And we've already planned that at the beginning of next year when we're gone, they're gonna do a little fundraiser where they're gonna sell popsicles.And that's another thing that I struggled with, because I got it so late in year 12, I was still trying to figure out the post. Getting an assembly spot was so difficult, you realised I had to slide it into our tutor assembly, because there were no more spots.If I had gotten a spot at the beginning, it would have been a lot easier, then I could have focused on fundraising, but I didn't know. 



CR:Yeah, but you were in quite a precarious condition anyway. 


SF:Yeah, it was very difficult. 


CR:For the little you had, you did a lot. Do you get what I mean? 


CR:How much (7:59) did you end up raising as well? 


SF:Around a little over 200.


CR:Oh, that's great. 


SF:Yeah, we're really happy with it. 


CR:Do you think you'd carry on doing charity work when you get to uni? 


SF:Definitely. I would definitely like to try. I actually had to stop volunteering, unfortunately, at my youth club, because the A-levels were getting a bit overwhelming. So I'm actually really glad that I got to do the sickle cell thing, because I was itching to do something. I always like giving back. And so when I go to uni, I definitely want to find something else.


I think my take on charity, through Sofia, was that it truly has a positive effect on an individual's character and their communities’ education of that issue they wish to change. To conclude, I feel the world, and our generation, would be better with more Sofias.