Giving Back: it's what we're here for.
My mother was fond of telling me that I was luckier than most children and that at some stage in my life I should learn to "Give Back". I always thought she was a sandwich short of a picnic, as though as a boy of 12, I could understand what on earth she meant.
Fast forward forty years and my own children are almost deaf from a similar refrain from me - if not "Give Back" more "You Owe" as in "You are also blessed and you owe". I'm not sure if this has been ingrained in me because of some kind of family ethic, or whether this is what people with talents do.
Giving is pretty easy; you just put yourself out by giving time to being a sports coach or singing in a choir or maybe you decide that as a lawyer you'll help Citizen's Advice by giving freely of your time. There are endless computations as to how you can "give" or "owe".
Giving can come in plenty of forms: recycling paper and glass, driving patients to hospital, serving in a charity shop, helping the homeless and making donations.
We Brits are only second to America as the most giving nation when it comes to things like tsunamis, earthquakes, floods and famine elsewhere in the world. And we have also enriched the world with Oxfam, War on Want, Save the Children, the Hospice movement, the British Council and BBC World Service.
So, dear reader, it won't surprise you that the essence of this blog is to ask you to "give". In 1967, following the Six Day War, a poll showed that fewer than 20% of Brits knew where the Middle East was. This led to a group of politicians to "give" their time to create Caabu.
My how the world has changed since 1967. No Berlin Wall, no Soviet Union, the rise of Brazil, India and China, the Single currency in most countries in Europe, the rise of Al Qaeda, 9/11 and over the past year, the Arab Spring.
Caabu has been ever present through these changes funded largely by donations from people who “give”. But, for the very first time since we were formed we may have to close our doors. For this to happen at this critical time in the Middle East would be frankly shocking.
I have been fortunate as an MP to be able to visit Jordan, Syria, Palestine, Egypt, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and the UAE courtesy of Caabu. These visits profoundly influenced me and helped me raise issues with my own Government time and time again.
We cannot let Caabu close. Somewhere out there must be donors who can "give". You could give £50, you could give £5000, you could give £500,000.