Last month Ukti Shah managed to raise a phenomenal £500 for Blue Ventures’ school scholarships by doing a sponsored bungee jump! We asked her to share some thoughts about this experience…
Why did you want to support Blue Ventures’ school scholarships?
I lived in Madagascar for more than ten years and witnessed a great proportion of the Malagasy population struggling with poverty in their everyday lives. While I was studying at a good school in the capital city of Antananarivo, many children were on the street, begging for food or money, or working from an early age to help support their families. Unfortunately during all of those years, I never really found a way to help them.
I left Madagascar after high school to complete my studies in the UK and, during these years in London, I realised how fortunate I am to have these educational opportunities and to be able to choose what I would like to do with my life. It’s a privilege that many Malagasy children do not have.
I found out about Blue Ventures’ work in Madagascar last year and I was very impressed. I had the chance to meet a few people from the BV team in Antananarivo, and I decided that it could be great to support the school scholarships programme in order to finally take a first step towards my goal of helping to alleviate poverty in Madagascar.
How did you come up with the idea of doing a sponsored bungee jump?
I’m part of the “Raising And Giving” society at my university and they recently organised a sponsored bungee jumping event. The idea was to fundraise for our chosen charities and get at least £80 each to do the jump. I thought it was the perfect occasion to raise money for Blue Ventures’ school scholarships, particularly because I’ve always been scared of heights, so it would be a big challenge for a great cause!
How did you organise your fundraising?
I decided to create a fundraising page on Virgin Money Giving a couple of weeks before the event. I personalised it by explaining the educational needs in Madagascar, and my own motivation for supporting Blue Ventures through this bungee jumping challenge. I then shared the page on as many social networks as possible. This was ideal to get my friends and family from Madagascar who are abroad to sort of do something together for the country.
The minimum amount I had to raise was £80 but my target was £500 which would enable at least seventeen children to go to school for a year. I wasn’t sure if I would reach it in such a short time but I was pleasantly surprised by the great support that I received, and word of mouth helped a lot.
What was the actual bungee jump like?
When the day of the bungee jump finally arrived, I was pretty stressed! I remember reading all sorts of articles and watching videos related to bungee jumping, just wondering if I would actually be able to do it, and I was very afraid of quitting…
When I was 225 feet above the ground on the platform, the safety instructor counted down to three and asked me to jump, but I couldn’t do it! He reassured me, saying, “don’t worry, I’ll count down again, just breathe deeply, and look at this beautiful day… three, two, one, jump!” I was still standing there, terrified. I could hear the crowd below shouting encouragements, and that helped me not to give up.
I was there for about 10 minutes more, hesitating because I didn’t want to jump, but I didn’t want to go down without jumping either. I even remember asking the safety instructor if he could push me, but of course he wasn’t allowed to do that!
Finally he asked me why I wanted to do the jump, and if I didn’t jump within the next ten seconds then we would have to go down. I realised this was my final step and people had donated because I was doing a personal challenge, so I went for it! The hardest part was deciding to jump and leaning towards the edge… the rest was simply sensational! As soon as I decided to jump, I leant forward and just fell. Being upside down, hanging in the sky, it was a beautiful feeling!
All I can say is that it was a great way to confront my fears, get a huge feeling of accomplishment and support a worthy cause in the process. I hope that other people will be inspired to do things to fundraise for children’s education in Velondriake because it’s easy to find the fun in fundraising!
If you would like to do something to fundraise for Blue Ventures’ school scholarships programme - an office bake sale, a sponsored bike ride, an auction of promises – then please do get in touch and we’ll help you to get everything set up!