This post was guest-written by Brendan McDonald, who has been an aid worker since 1999. He has a Masters of Social Science in International Development and has worked in Kosovo, North Korea, Sri Lanka, Libya, Jordan, and Iraq. Diagnosed with leukemia in 2015, Brendan recently co-founded Uncomfortable Revolution, a company dedicated to changing the way people talk about sensitive personal topics. 

My name is Brendan McDonald, and I am an aid worker. I am passionate about harnessing empathy in support of tolerance, human rights, and social justice.

This Giving Tuesday, I am partnering with Cisco Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) to achieve these goals. Some of you might ask, “Why Cisco?,” but the answer is simple—I am impressed by what they do.

By partnering with nonprofits who are tackling some of the world’s most pressing development and humanitarian challenges, Cisco leverages its strength as one of the worldwide leaders in IT and networking to provide expertise, partnerships, and financial resources to change people’s lives.

For example, as part of Cisco’s Tactical Operations (TacOps) team, Cisco employees provide expertise and equipment to restore communications after disasters. Many of their staff also volunteer to work with NetHope, an American non-governmental organization (NGO) co-founded by Cisco, providing communications to refugees in places such as Turkey, Greece, and Kenya and connecting families after disasters such as Hurricane Irma in Puerto Rico.

Cisco is part of a long and proud tradition of philanthropy and volunteerism in America. Every day across all walks of life, Americans donate to nonprofits. Every day, Americans volunteer their time to help others in need. This year, there are over 141 million people in need of humanitarian assistance. Without American generosity, many of their needs will go unmet.

Nowhere is this more visible than in Yemen, the site of the world’s largest humanitarian crisis. That’s why for Giving Tuesday, I have chosen to use my in-kind donation of US$5,000 from Cisco to support Save the Children.

Save the Children, the first international aid group to establish a presence in Yemen in 1963, has a track-record of feeding, educating, protecting, and providing medical care to countless Yemeni children. Their deep community ties, dedicated staff, and knowledge of how to get things done, despite overwhelming odds, makes Save the Children an organization you can trust to help ease the suffering of girls and boys caught in the midst of this crisis.

Sarah, 12 years old, is a displaced girl now living in Hodeidah who is unable to access education

“My family and I have been displaced since the war started. I used to go to school every day, but now I don’t. I lost all of my school documents and certificates when I fled with my family from the deadly airstrikes. I could have been in the sixth grade now if I had not missed two years during my displacement. I feel sad when I see my cousins going and coming back from school, but I hide my feelings. However, I am now registered in a child-friendly space—I spend my time drawing and playing with my new friends. I love to study, and I love the child-friendly space. I want to be a police officer in the future to protect my family. I wish I could go back to my school and village; I wish with all my heart that the war stops.”

Save the Children coordinates their work with the United Nations, the International Red Cross, the Red Crescent Movement, and other NGOs in Yemen to ensure their activities have maximum impact.

Here are five practical ways your support for Save the Children can help children in Yemen:

  1. Treating sick and injured children at hospitals and mobile health units
  2. Feeding malnourished children
  3. Giving girls and boys school supplies and educational materials
  4. Providing children with safe spaces to learn, play, and cope with the recent tragedies
  5. Ensuring families have safe drinking water and hygiene supplies

This Giving Tuesday, please donate to Save the Children, your favorite nonprofit, or cause at www.brightfunds.org/u/cisco. Every dollar helps.


Austin Belisle

No Longer with Cisco