You don’t have to be a well-known billionaire to make a difference, says renowned Annie Lennox, singer, philanthropist, and the founder of The Sing Campaign, a charity that benefits women and children with HIV/AIDS in Africa and the United Kingdom, particularly in reducing – and eliminating – HIV in newborns.
Using what you have to make a difference is key.
“One person can do so much within their sphere of influence,” Lennox told genConnect on the ground in Aspen at the Aspen Ideas Festival. “You don’t have to be Bill Gates, you don’t have to have billions of dollars. Just by shifting your own paradigm, you can become a change-maker.”
Lennox is, clearly, extremely passionate about changing the world and has always been that way. She believes that passion is not something to be found, but rather, inherent in your personality from birth.
“I think, when I look back at my own childhood, I was absolutely right-brain calibrated,” Lennox says. “That art; music; the sense that the world around me being quite a cruel place, an actual fact, was something that I’ve always felt. That the world is beautiful, but it’s also injust.”
Although Lennox believes that charities are not the solution to our problems, they are a way to progress towards solving problems we face. Charities are comprised of two parts; the people who assist and work for them and the financial aspect, which is what keeps the organization running. For organizations like Oxfam, she says, “the people who make the most impact in their organization are the people who give small amounts regularly.”
Lennox says it’s imperative to look outside of yourself to be aware of, and care about, the problems in out world. For example, after meeting sex workers in Malawi, and talking to them to understand how they got to where they are today, Lennox understood that, in order to comprehend another’s actions (like selling their bodies) you have to look at their whole situation and not resort to judgement.
“I understood that for women in that situation, in that circumstance, very often they’re coming from a place of abuse, right from the get-go. That someone in authority has abused them, and from that point on there’s kind of, like, a devaluation of them,” Lennox said. “They’re in a position, in poverty, that they have to find a means, somehow, to take care of their children and to take care of themselves. So they will do what they need to do.”