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Making a difference: Katherine Dobie

One of my favourite things to watch on TV is the “Good Sorts” segment that plays at the end of the Sunday night news.

Each week we are introduced to an inspirational New Zealander who shares with the nation an ‘’ordinary’’ activity in their life, which can only be described as ‘’extraordinary’’.

A couple of weeks ago Good Sort’s profiled Katherine Dobie from Hutt City (near Wellington). While I encourage everyone reading this to view the segment for themselves (link), in a nutshell what Katherine has done can be described as brave, creative, empathetic and uplifting.

What makes a young person, safe in her own home and miles from the dangerous situation facing children in Iraq make a conscious decision to raise $35,000 in one month?

Is it a fearless attitude? Super confidence? A can-do belief in herself?

I wanted to find out for myself so I contacted Katherine and asked her some questions.

What specifically did you read in the books/articles that stirred your passion to help the children in Iraq?

There was an interview with a woman who lived in Iraq, and she asked why no one was coming to help. Did the world not know what was going on in this place with ISIS? Why have we been left alone in this? This hit me hard, and I desperately wanted these people to know that they are not forgotten about … no matter who or where they are in the world- everyone deserves to be helped.

Have you ever fund raised before? And if yes, for what?

I’ve done very small-scale fundraising before. I was a coordinator for the 40-hour famine when I was in school, but that’s really about it.

How did you convince others to help you raise the money?

Convincing other people was interesting. My aim was to ‘infect’ them with my passion and compassion for this cause and the people. A lot of people who donated knew me, or were friends/family of people who knew me. They knew my character and trusted that I was doing this for good. I spent time talking to people. I made special effort to describe the situation, using relatable examples and my own life experiences.

Raising $35,000 in one month is quite an overwhelming task for one person - What made you think you could do it?

It’s a lot of money, definitely. My faith in God is the reason I knew I could it- or at least do my best in it. Plus I was going to give my all. This wasn’t a game, this is real life for these families.

During that month, did you ever feel "this is too hard"?

Almost everyday. What kept me going was the people who had already donated- I owed it to them to complete what I said I would. I also had grown to care so much for this cause that failure was simply not an option. Like I said, it’s not a game for those people- it’s their lives. I’m big on commitment, so was desperate to follow through on what I said I’d do.

Define motivation in your own words. What motivates you?

Motivation to me is about passion. If I am passionate about something (sometimes not directly the activity I’m participating in, but perhaps the outcome or result of, etc) then I am motivated to give it my all.

A lot of things motivate me. Empathy is a big one- I really feel for people, and can very easily imagine myself in their shoes. I treat people how I want to be treated- and my faith certainly comes in here again.

What did your family think of what you were trying to do?

Initially my family and friends were skeptical, as described in the Good Sorts story. I was a little disappointed in their first reactions, but I can also see they were just trying to be reasonable (I can be a bit of dreamer). However as I kept working hard, and coming up strategies and talking more and more about it, I think I proved how much I wanted this and was willing to work hard for it. I like to think that they got caught up in the passion.

Did you use any mentors or advisers to help you achieve your goal?

Yes, I did have a few friends who I spoke to about it. They helped ground me and work through all the logistical and practical aspects including helping me to stay excited about the project. My dad also helped a lot. He’s an accountant so helped on money side of things. These people helped me both practically and emotionally – and it was so rewarding for me to share in the success with them.

What would you say to people who want to step out of their comfort zone and help other?

I constantly stepped out of my comfort zone in this. In fact, I opened a talk that I did in a school assembly with “I’m not great at public speaking, but when you’re passionate about something you do it anyway”. If you really are passionate about something, you’ll put your fear, your ego, and sometimes your well-being aside to achieve it. You’ll end up doing all sorts of things you never wanted to do or things you hate doing, because the passion is bigger than it all.

What difference can you make in this world if you put your mind to it?

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