Australian Himalayan Foundation: Creating History

‘Getting what is needed most, to those most in need’.
This is the mission that has been motivating the Australian Himalayan Foundation (AHF) to continue the great work they have been doing in the remote regions if the Himalayas for the past 17 years (established in 2001). They achieve this through working in partnership with the people of the remote Himalaya to improve living standards through better education and training, improved health services and environmental sustainability.
I first became interested in working with the organisation when I heard about their flagship program; The Teacher Training and Quality Education Program. This program focuses on teaching teachers how to provide quality education to students. As an aspiring teacher myself, this is something I have very passionate about.
During my initial meeting with the organisations CEO Carolyn Hamer-Smith; Carolyn explained that one of AHF’s goals for this year was to create corporate history and major achievements timeline. A task, I must admit, was considerably more challenging than I first anticipated. This was useful to the organisation because due to lack of resources they had never made any sort of formal history or archives of the work of the charity. It will also give them a list of the major achievements/goals the organisation have accomplished over the years. This is something they can use on their website as a promotional strategy to show current sponsors the great work they are doing as well as encourage new sponsors.
Following the initial meeting, I was emailed a list outlining what exactly the organisation wanted to be included in this list and got to work researching and constructing. I quickly realised that this would not be an easy task. Due to the lack of online data on the organisation and the fact, there have been so many people coming and going through the company; both volunteered and paid, it has been very hard to access the needed information to create this list. I began by going through the annual reports and other online forums to gather all the needed information I could. This was useful for recent years but given the charity only began producing annual reports in 2009 there was a great deal of information missing. I, therefore, organised to meet the CEO and the former secretary at the AHF office to go through the achieves and find the missing information. This is incredibly useful and also very interesting to see how the charity operates. I managed to gather the majority of missing information about the recent years of the charity but still struggled to gather the necessary information about the early years. We decided the best way to gather this information was to meet with the founding chairman Simon Balderstone. I sent Simon the information I was still missing and he gathered what he could from his archives and the rest (particularly the information about the forming of the charity) I got from his oral history. This was the first time I had collected information through the form of oral history and I must say the reading by Lorina Barker, the websites in the unit outline and the lecture we had on oral histories were very helpful in planning the best way to approach this. Once I gathered the information needed and wrote it up in a formally I sent it back to Simon to ensure he approved and it was all correct. I have now sent the copy of the corporate history and major achievement list off to the CEO for approval. Once that has happened the charity will have a scaffolded copy of the organisations history that they can keep adding to, to ensure the charity continues to record the history of their great work in the future.
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