See Want Shop’s Lisa Hamilton opens up about giving back

There’s probably not an experience more life-changing than going to a third world country and getting to immerse yourself in the community firsthand – an experience that See Want Shop blogger and influencer Lisa Hamilton was able to encounter recently. Heading to Uganda for five days with the Cotton On Foundation, Lisa was given the opportunity to visit local schools and health centres, as well as meeting teachers, students and doctors with whom the Foundation partners with.

Below, Lisa tells us a bit more about the trip and why she got involved:

“This year I made a New Year’s resolution to start giving back to this incredible life that I am blessed to live. On a personal level, I felt it was extremely important to utilise my reach to get behind some worthwhile causes and make a difference in this world.

It was this decision over summer that led to a connection with the Cotton On Foundation (COF). The team reached out to me during the Christmas season to bring awareness to their campaign that was running over this time. I was all too eager and gladly let my followers know how they could support the Foundation whilst completing their Christmas shopping. And so from here, the bond with COF began…

The “Cotton On Foundation?” I hear you ask. Exactly. The awareness about the existence of the Foundation is something I am trying hard to change. To give you their background story, COF began in 2007 (coincidently the same time I started working casually over summer at a Cotton On store) with the idea and hope that would be deemed Mission Impossible by many.

It all began in Mannya, a small village in Southern Uganda that had been devastatingly decimated by the HIV/AIDs epidemic in Africa. In fact, almost half of the population in this region was under the age of 14 – an entire generation was missing. The local school was nothing more than a mud hut with less than 30 students and a local mother acting as teacher. COF arrived in Mannya and saw this, so their goal was simple – create educational places and consequently help to reduce the impact of poverty in the region.

Fast forward ten years, and today COF has raised in excess of $70 million globally with 100% of all proceeds from sales going towards their global projects. With close to 6,000 educational places created by the team worldwide, they’re on track to deliver their goal of developing 20,000 educational spots by 2020.

Last month, I was incredibly honoured to travel to Southern Uganda along with a selection of Cotton On employees from around the world. We got to see for ourselves just what COF is doing in these remote communities. To say the trip was life-changing, is an understatement. Still to this day I find it difficult to articulate exactly how I felt, but I can happily say that the experience has forever changed my equilibrium. To see first-hand what a staggering change COF is having in these communities was extraordinary. It was raw, it was emotional, it was empowering and it was inspirational. The pure love, happiness and gratefulness we witnessed emanating from these children touched every soul and knowing that you had a part to play in creating those smiles was bloody awesome.

How can you help? Well this is the easiest part. To support COF and help champion for change, it’s as simple as walking into one of the Cotton On Group stores (including Cotton On, Cotton On Body, Cotton On Kids, Rubi, Typo, Factorie and Suprè) and simply purchasing a COF product at the counter (such as a tote bag, bottle of water or pack of tissues). You don’t even need to purchase merchandise to support this incredible cause…and what’s even better is that 100% of these proceeds go towards making a difference!

So I don’t ask, I demand that next time you are walking past any of the Cotton On Group stores or shopping online, you purchase a COF product and help reduce global poverty. In a world full of likes, follows and edits, let’s do something tangible, something real and something life-changing.”

All images provided by Cotton On Foundation featuring See Want Shop‘s Lisa Hamilton.

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