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Meet the team - Hayden Kurek

25th March, 2014

Abdul Raheem Aksar
Get to know our unsung heroes – the people working hard behind the scenes at Penny Appeal HQ and around the world. Find out what they do and what makes them tick!
Name? Hayden Kurek
Job Title?
IT Support
Where are you based?
Penny Appeal HQ - Wakefield
What's your role within the Penny Appeal team?    
I’ve got a really unique role in the organisation where I look after IT administration and the donor database for Penny Appeal. I also support the Programme Team with the preparation of well and orphan feedback reports that we send out to our donors.

How long have you been part of the team?
It’s been exactly a year since I joined Penny Appeal and I’ve really enjoyed every second of it. It’s been an incredible journey so far and I’ve learned so much. The whole team is amazing and so welcoming, but the best thing is that they support me in my personal development.

What do you love most about your job?
No two days are the same at Penny Appeal – the variety of work really keeps things fresh. As I look after the database, I get to be involved in a lot of the key organisational decisions and this makes me feel really valued. What I love the most though, has to be the fact that we are helping so many people around the world. Because I pull the feedback reports together, I see hundreds of pictures and stories that many people wouldn’t normally see, and knowing how much we help these people really motivates me.

What has surprised you most about working with Penny Appeal?
I was shocked to find out how small the team is compared to the amount of work that’s actually done. Everyone who works for the organisation is really committed and passionate about what they do. It’s not just the people who work here that are like this, it’s our donors too who are equally passionate. I was taken aback by just how much people support us and the things they do to help the poor and needy in the world.
 
What do you find most challenging?
Because I really love what I do, I always want to do everything I can and make it the best I possibly can. So sometimes I take a lot of things on and don’t prioritise properly, but it’s getting better as now I make sure I plan my work for the day.

What do you wish other people knew about Penny Appeal?
We’ve got some fantastic campaigns and you should really look at the difference our projects make, whether that be helping and caring for orphans, providing clean water for communities or helping to feed the poor and needy. We’re not just about collecting pennies and buckets full of change; we really know how to best spend your donations in the most cost effective and efficient way.

What was your first job?
My passion for IT started early, as you may tell by my first job, which was working for an IT recycling company, refurbishing old laptops so they can be used again. This brought up a few challenges, like things not working as they should, but I enjoyed the problem solving that came with it.

Outside work, what are your passions?
I actually love biking, but I’ve not been on one for a while since suffering quite a dangerous accident. Thankfully, I’m all better now and I’m looking forward to getting back on the saddle.

Who or what inspires you?
I work with a really fantastic team and all of them give me inspiration in different ways. They’ve shown me how to work within time frame and deliver on time, and to even be true in what you believe in. Their common passion for helping people, who don’t have the things we take for granted, is definitely infectious and makes you realise what’s important in life.

What was the last book you read or recommended?
I very rarely read because I struggle with a reading disorder but I do watch films and movies that are based on actual events genuinely fascinate me.

What might someone be surprised to know about you?
After reading this, you may be surprised to know that I’m only 19 years old and, even though I’m the youngest, I’m the tallest in the organisation at a staggering 6’5” tall. You’ll always notice me in team photographs as I literally stand out!

Meet the team - Khalil Benkhalil

27th February, 2014

Abdul Raheem Aksar
Get to know our unsung heroes – the people working hard behind the scenes at Penny Appeal HQ and around the world. Find out what they do and what makes them tick! This month we get the low-down on Khalil Benkhalil, Penny Appeal’s Fundraising Officer.
Name? Khalil Benkhalil
Job Title?
Fundraising Officer
Where are you based?
Penny Appeal Bradford Office
What's your role within the Penny Appeal team?    
My role is to think of and organise fundraising events which get the youth and the community involved on both a local scale and a nationwide scale. That may be a challenge, such as our Zip Wire for victims of Typhoon Haiyan or April’s Walk for Water event, or something more formal such as charity dinners. Really, it’s thinking up any unique idea to raise funds for those in need and to execute it.

How long have you been part of the team?
I have been part of the team since October 2013.

What do you love most about your job?
I love the fact that it is fun and you get to interact with so many people. But nothing is better than the feeling you get when your hard work pays off and you see the amount it has raised – that’s the best feeling!

What has surprised you most about working with Penny Appeal?
The love and the support you get when working with Penny Appeal, and how even though our team is small we have surpassed targets that we could only dream of. I also love the ambition, determination and humility within the team.
 
What do you find most challenging?
Trying to manage the work load alongside a full time degree is something that I have learned to cope with but I would say that prioritising and managing my time accordingly is the most challenging part.

What do you wish other people knew about Penny Appeal?
I wish they knew about the hard work that goes into everything that we do every day and just how that hard work pays off in the field, where it makes a real difference to someone’s life.

What was your first job?
My first job was at a charity back in 2011. It was similar to my role here at Penny Appeal in terms of raising funds. I started off as a volunteer and then was taken on part-time.

Outside work, what are your passions?
The two F’s, food and football! My favourite food is a Libyan pasta dish. As for football, please try not to judge me but my supported football team is Manchester United!

Who or what inspires you?
As a fundraiser you can't always go out into the field and see the smiles on the faces of the children you have helped. It’s an inefficient use of resources so I cannot always be inspired that way. However the support I get from my volunteers and the community really does inspire me.

What was the last book you read or recommended?
Malcolm X the Autobiography. As a fundraiser, public speaking is very important, and to read a book about arguably one of the best public speakers the world has ever seen was truly inspiring.

What might someone be surprised to know about you?
I have a few moves on the football pitch that may surprise a few people!

Meet the team - Abdul Raheem Aksar

22nd January, 2014

Abdul Raheem Aksar
Get to know our unsung heroes – the people working hard behind the scenes at Penny Appeal HQ and around the world. Find out what they do and what makes them tick. First up, meet the star of our call centre, Abdul Aksar!
Name? Abdul Raheem Aksar
Job Title?
Donor Relations Manager/Call Centre Manager
Where are you based?
Penny Appeal HQ - Wakefield
What's your role within the Penny Appeal team?    
My role is very much on the frontline. If you call 03000 11 11 11, 90 per cent of the time it will be me that you speak to. I deal with most of the donors’ queries with regards to our campaigns and any general questions that people have about the organisation, as well processing various donations. I also make sure that whole donor experience runs smoothly so that our donors are fully satisfied.
I also manage the call centre during peak times (i.e. Ramadan), recruiting staff, training them with full knowledge of our campaigns to help them take donations and keep the donors fully informed. I also deal with the majority of the admin work too.

How long have you been part of the team?
I joined Penny Appeal in April 2013 so about 9 months.

What do you love most about your job?
I love it when a donor is happy with the feedback they receive. I love it when I see images and videos of what has gone on out in the field, such as seeing the orphanages, how somebody or a community have funded a well and definitely seeing pictures of the mass feeding that takes place through our Feed Our World campaign. Knowing that I have been a part of this, either taking donations or persuading people to donate towards it, and seeing the outcome is the greatest reward. Priceless.

What has surprised you most about working with Penny Appeal?
Honestly, the way the organisation has grown since April. The way people have open heartedly donated towards our campaigns seems to be a blessing in disguise.  I’ve never seen the generosity of people give for the love of helping people in such a great number. It’s quite an overwhelming feeling.
 
What do you find most challenging?
I think the challenges for me, personally, are keeping up to date with all the new challenges, events and campaigns that we do, as well as remembering all the names of the so many donors I have dealt with and built a great relationship with over the months. Sometimes I confuse one donor for another whoops... I am human after all! 

What do you wish other people knew about Penny Appeal?
How such a small team of people are so dedicated and willingly put in the hours day and night to keep up the good work and it’s all thanks to our donors who keep helping with all their little or big pennies. Without these generous, lovely people we couldn’t possibly strive to do any of the work that we do. So I would like to thank everyone – the brothers, the sisters, the aunties, the uncles, the nieces, the nephews – for all their donations and for wanting to help make the world a better place.

What was your first job?
My first ever job was doing a newspaper round on my bike on a morning whilst I was still at school. Oh, those days feel like such a distant memory.

Outside work, what are your passions?
Outside of work, I like going to the movies, going out to new eateries, hitting the gym once in a while and also playing badminton. Also, spending time with my much loved family and most of all doing things with my daughter.

Who or what inspires you?
I don’t really have a role model, I just try to be the best person I can be and inspire myself to be successful at what I do.

What was the last book you read or recommended?
I am actually reading a really great English commentary of the holy Quran to get a greater understanding and in-depth knowledge of the holy book to have a better understanding of my purpose in life.

What might someone be surprised to know about you?
I used to be a TV extra. You may have seen me on the telly! Say no more...

UN International Day for the Abolition of Slavery

27th November, 2013

The Gambia, like other West African countries, has had a long history of slavery, which began in the tenth century. Around three million slaves were taken from the Gambia during the 300 years of the transatlantic slave trade. Slavery was finally abolished in the Gambia in 1906 although modern forms of slavery still persist. The Gambia is one of the world’s poorest countries.

Just one sixth of its land is arable and soil quality is poor, leading to a dependence on one crop – peanuts. The country relies heavily on peanut exports and so it is susceptible to fluctuations in world prices.

 

A third of Gambians live below the international poverty line of $1.25 a day. Gambia has a high infant mortality rate as well as a high maternal mortality rate. Eradicating poverty and improving food security and nutrition are considered important issues in the country’s development. Other issues are gender equality and ensuring education for all school-age children; in rural areas poverty and cultural factors prevent girls attending school.

 

Penny Appeal is carrying out the following projects in The Gambia:

Join us at the Global Peace and Unity Festival!

24th October, 2013

The 6th Global Peace and Unity Festival opens its doors on Saturday 23rd November at ExCel London for a weekend of harmony and entertainment. Come and have a chat with us at the Penny Appeal stall (C20) and you could have your photo taken with a Muslim celebrity!

 

Fancy a FREE ticket? Simply sponsor an orphan, a well, or 120 life-saving meals here and you will receive FREE entry as a thank you! (You may make a one-off payment or choose to pay monthly by Direct Debit.)

 

The festival gathers individuals and organisations from across the social, political and religious spectrum, providing informative seminars and workshops as well as international speakers and performers. There is live entertainment, an international food court and shopping at the GPU souk in addition to attractions for both adults and children, including a funfair and a sports and adventure zone.

 

We’re looking forward to meeting you!

 

Read more about the GPU Event here.

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