Every year Clarins gives the Most Dynamisante Woman of The Year award to recognise exceptional action and commitment to a charitable cause. Aside from the recognition and honour, there’s a wonderfully fat cheque for £30,000 that goes with this award for the charity in question. I’ve just come back from this year’s award ceremony and have to blog about the award winner right now because what she is doing is utterly inspirational.
So, a little about Lucy Buck, creator of Child’s i Foundation. As an tv producer for Big Brother, Lucy had volunteered for a number of years at an orphanage in Uganda where increasing numbers of children were being abandoned. You might wonder why there is such a high abandonment rate in Uganda in particular but it is a country where there is intense poverty and violence and desperate mothers often think that their babies are better off in an orphanage. The stark truth of it is that they are not. No child is. Uganda is a troubled country where in the past fifty years a succession of despotic rulers have not managed to bring peace, harmony or economy, driving the region into almost constant civil unrest where child soldiers form a large part of ‘armies’. If you are familiar with recent history, you will know the name Idi Amin, once of the most reviled leaders who ethnically cleansed Uganda and is held responsible for over 800,000 deaths.
You can see, then, that Uganda is an unlikely place for a western woman to decide to make any kind of difference at all to long-held cultural practices, such as abandoning children and babies to orphanages. Fuelled by the belief that every child has the right to grow up in a loving family, in under two years, Lucy’s foundation, the Child’s i Foundation, has worked with the Ugandan government and against the odds, set up a Baby and Family Centre for emergency care, placed over 100 children in families that genuinely want them for all the right reasons and trained local citizens to become social workers within the communities to find families for the children.
While I was at the ceremony, the technology failed and Lucy’s video wouldn’t work, so she had to come up on stage and explain herself exactly what she does, and things happen for a reason, because it was the nicest thing to hear her talk about Child’s i Foundation and also tell us that despite the belief that adoption was pretty well unheard of in Uganda, her programme to place children with forever families actually had a waiting list of potential parents. An historical event, unheard of previously in Uganda.
But, it takes a very special sort of person with the drive and determination, never mind the skill and tact that is needed to negotiate and facilitate any kind of change in a country beset with difficulties. Lucy Buck is that kind of ridiculously special person who is as we speak doing the virtually impossible and while she is able to continue to do it, she is giving what children need most – a family. One of my mantras in life is that sometimes you have to jump without looking and Lucy did.. she absolutely did.
Of course, none of this work could happen without funding, which is where corporations that recognise achievements and put their money into facilitating extraordinary acts of humanitarianism make an immense difference. Clarins is one such corporation and I’m so proud that it’s beauty that helps to make it happen for the Child’s i Foundation. Lucy will be able to train 10 more social workers with her award from Clarins. I should add that The Clarins Most Dynamisante Woman of The Year award happens in 12 countries around the world.
See more about Child’s i Foundation HERE