Volunteering – Working for a good cause

We all have a cause we believe it’s worth fighting for: either related to wildlife conservation, environment or human rights. Regardless of which one of the above is closest to your heart, you’ve probably found yourself, at least once, doing something to improve the situation. Personally, I was involved in all of the above, at a certain point in my life.

After working as a volunteer, on and off, for a few international organizations and NGOs, I can’t help it but to look back on all the work they do, and ask myself, how much is it actually done. How much power do they have to make a change?

Some might think things move faster if you work at an international scale. Others believe what actually helps is working locally, at a smaller scale. Because the opinions are divided, so are the type of entities which make it happen: international organizations and local NGOs.

What all of them have in common, is the way in which they get to the final goal. Paperwork first, approvals, persuading, negotiating, and in the end, actually doing something. This makes the entire process difficult, and sometimes, when they can legally proceed to improve the situation, it’s too late. If you are an NGO, or any type of organization or agency, you have to obey some rules and regulations, and only when all the conditions are met, you can achieve something. You just can’t go around it. International organizations seem to have a lot of power, but keep in mind that they have to deal with Governments and politics, which slows them down considerably, or even block them from achieving the goal. What is also common, is that not all the people working at a high level are actually interested in the cause, but they are in it for the material benefits. Sad, but a reality of the society we live in…

So, what actually works? What does the trick when is needed?

The answer is quite surprising: YOU. Private individuals achieve more than any authorized entity does and ever will. You are the supreme force. You can go out there, and make a difference. There’s nothing we can’t do, as a community, as a society. Working together is what makes it happen.

And by going out there, I don’t mean ‘Liking’ a picture on Facebook, or ‘Sharing’ it. Don’t get me wrong, this can also be effective when it comes to pet adoptions (I got a dog I’ve never met, adopted on another continent, only through sharing posts with the right people), but in most cases, raising awareness only, doesn’t do the trick. When it comes to a certain individual or situation, more is better. If it’s something you can do, just go out there and do it!

This is how your Likes from Facebook help end hunger and assist the needy

Previously working with refugees, I can tell you for sure nothing is more useless to them, than a person sitting in front of a computer, and clicking ‘Like’ on Facebook. Fleeing the country with only the clothes they are wearing, and a huge emotional luggage, they need help integrating in the new community, food, clothes, education, legal assistance.

An animal waiting in a shelter to be adopted doesn’t care either about you pitting him on a social network. All he needs is a home, food, medical care and lots of love, and these must come soon, before time runs out, and he will be euthanized.

Complaining about pollution and change in climate, won’t help either if you don’t actively get involved, to improve the situation. You can and should use only what you need, and save as much as possible on resources. And yes, it all starts with you. Complaining about other’s attitude, but you not changing yours, won’t do the trick.

During the years I’ve met people who go for what they think is right, and I was amazed by how much things chance, compared to the situation in which you have to wait for other people to make the decisions for you. These special individuals who put the cause they fight for, above themselves, are the ones who get to the goal.

Best part is that we all have this in us, we can all dedicate ourselves to helping others. All we have to do is open our eyes and hearts and get involved. Find a cause you really care about, get informed, and get busy changing things. Even if you can’t help all the animals or people in need in the world, you can completely change the world for that person or animal. And that’s what makes all the difference.


We all have a skill which others might use, or which can benefit an animal or the environment. If what you know how to do best is plant trees, do it. If you have some clothes you can donate to someone in need, do it. If you can switch off the light or use less water, do it. If we all do a little bit, that bit becomes a lot. It might seem like nothing much, but if we all choose to don’t do it, because nobody else does it, then we’ll destroy this planet completely, one day at a time, and for now, we only have one Earth, so we can’t afford such a situation.

Remember that it all starts with you, with one person, always, before it reaches global scale! Don’t wait for others to do it, thinking somebody else will take care of this, as things might not ever get done. And maybe, that somebody, who can go out there and achieve something, is … YOU!

We Don’t Control Technology. Technology Controls Us

At a first glance it might sounds silly, but every time I look around me, I can’t help but think it’s true, and it only gets worse by day. Think about it. You go to a restaurant and see a family or a group of friends, at the table, all on their tablets or smartphones, browsing the internet, not exchanging a single word during the entire meal. Later, they all pack their stuff, and leave. I always wonder why did they went out in first place and not stay locked in their rooms and chat via Facebook, while eating alone.

Visiting a new city / country often turns, for most people, into a quest to find a Wireless Network, just so they can talk to someone else, or update their Facebook status about the new ‘exciting’ location they are at. We are losing ourselves into the technology in our pockets and not living in the present day. The acute desire to always be connected and record every move we make, makes us forget to actually enjoy the moment, and be there, with the persons sitting next to us.

The social disease of recording our moves, checking-in from every location, posting pictures of the food we eat, and look in a certain way for the photos we ‘HAVE TO’ upload online, turns us into the slaves of the applications we’re using. Some people say: ‘I need to check-in now, because later it won’t be valid anymore.’ or my old time favorite: ‘I need to smile in a certain way, because otherwise I can’t post the pictures online.’. To whom are we trying to prove what, by acting in a way we are not, just for the sake of being connected, with some people we most of the time don’t even like? It seems like lately what’s more important than anything, is live to the expectations of a pretended life.

I don’t think, for most people, there’s anything more painful when going out into the real world, than the lack of internet connection or the ‘Low Battery’ warning. It makes me wonder, when and where do they actually live if they are so busy with technology all the time? They live on the social network or in the real life? Because most act like their life is over when the battery dies.

I believe we are missing on a lot, because of this kind of perspective on socializing… We have no idea how to enjoy a moment of silence in the nature, we can’t enjoy a peaceful meal with our loved ones, without obsessively check our phones every few minutes and posting a picture of the food on Instagram or Facebook, and we definitely don’t enjoy special moments in our lives, like birthdays, holidays, fireworks and so on, without letting go of reality, and moving ourselves into the piece of technology which has to record it all.

I find it particularly sad to know some people can’t spend a moment alone with their own thoughts, without playing loud music to push away loneliness, and without connecting to a social network, to scroll through other people’s lives. Is like we are trying to run away from … ourselves.

And what is so social about Facebook? What does it have so special that makes us give up the most beautiful application, REALITY, just to spend virtual time, with out eyes glued to a screen? Why are we so afraid of the Low Battery warning, when it actually means: ‘Why don’t you look around you and find someone real, to really talk to?‘. What makes us chose the pretended life of so many online ‘friends’ (who only wish you happy birthday because Facebook informs them to do so) over our real friends and family, sitting right next to us?

Such a beautiful world out there, and we push it away for a small box with a screen… Who controls who again?

How can I become YOU

You think I can’t, but I can, if I want to. Quite easily.


Ask yourself the following question: How much information about yourself, your actions, passions, hobbies, location, preferences, friends, family and pets you put in the hands of strangers? None / Not much? Are you sure? … Very sure?

Think again!

Remember that night when you got drunk with your friends? Do you remember how many bottles of beer were on that table? Do you remember all the food you ate that night? What food was that? Remember that you talked with your best friend on the phone last month for quite a long time, on that specific day? Remember you went to that event a few years back? Remember the exact day when you ate that lunch with your colleague? What color was the paint of the restaurant wall? What was that document about, the one you emailed him/her?

You don’t remember all these details? Hmm…such a shame. I remember. I remember it all…


What happens on the internet, stays on the internet. You can delete it, sure, but I will still find it. Why? Because I want to be you.

Everything you type, send, receive, upload, download it’s stored on a server. Every move you make, is documented. EVERYTHING. Every email provider, browser, application, social network, bank and mobile internet provider have at least one. Every year the number of attacks the servers receive increases considerably. Very often we see articles on the internet about leaks from the database, of a specific company. This is why internet security is a very important part of every company/institution, and they all invest a lot of money into keeping their servers safe from such attacks.

But, what if someone finds a way around it? It happened before. What if someone gets their hands on every possible information available about you? What would they find out?

Through every information you type on a website, every action you take online, every file, photo, video you upload, you make identity theft easier, for someone who would want to do it. And this is not the only risk. The other risk is empowering someone who wants to hurt you, with all the information needed to do so. You give that person exact data about your location in real time, hobbies, likes, dislikes, friends, family, pets and so on. If they want to break into your apartment, they know when you are not there, or…are there. If they want to stalk you, you give them all they need.

Highly unlikely? They can’t know all this about you?

See if any of the below information rings a bell:

1. Email provider 

If you read this blog post, most likely you have at least one email address. You use it for work and to keep in touch with your friends and family. Just how much private information you include in the emails you send? Oh, you also keep a calendar on your email? What about contacts? Do you upload documents, or use Google docs to edit shared spreadsheets?

Normally, only you have access to the ones mentioned above. But, what if this changes? Who would benefit from the information you keep on your private account?

Could I use that information to get to your business partners, harm your friends, family or business? What about ruining your reputation or your relationships?

2. Google on your mobile phone?

Did you ever think it’s weird to be asked to sign in with your Google email account on your mobile phone? What can you do with an Android phone if you don’t sign in? You can pretty much only use it for calls. You can’t download applications and can’t use maps, navigators or others. Why? Who owns that phone you paid for, in the end? You can use the hardware only as long as you comply with the rules imposed by Google.

Every device you use, with a GPS incorporated, might be used both ways. You can find out your location, but so can others. People can track you down. This is the reason why some mobile applications were removed from Google Play store a while back ( best example is the app which allowed you to see where the ‘cute’ girls in your city are, in real time, directly from your mobile phone).

A new trend is to allow your phone in your life, even further. More and more phones help you keep track of your ‘health’. You basically let your phone count the number of steps you make everyday, write down every meal you eat, the sleeping schedule, the type of workout you prefer, the favorite jogging / cycling are in your city. Basically your phone knows all the time where you are in real time, when you are asleep or not, what you eat and when.

3. Facebook

The place where most of your friends are. Even if some of you are unhappy with this company, you don’t want to delete your account because it’s the easiest way to keep in touch with your friends. You want to show them pictures and videos from your trips, exchange pages, ideas, stories. But how private it’s what you say to them, even in private? What if that information leaks?

You liked that post? And that page? So you are from that city, went to school here, worked there and you are a person who likes dogs, a convinced vegetarian, you jog every morning, you cycle in that area, and you go out in this circle of friends.

What about those advertisements which pop random on the right side of the screen or in your news feed? How do they know you might click on that? Magic, huh? Not at all. Facebook uses your browsing history, your ‘Likes’ and location to show on the screen what you’d like to see. Even more, they use the pages you visited but never ‘Liked’

You get more spam in your email inbox lately? Selling your personal information(email), isn’t unusual. How do you think some online platforms survive? You configure your profile, and make it easier for them to send your email address to the right companies, which sends back to you what you might be interested in.

You feel the need to check-in, post pictures and other information about yourself? Who owns that information you post online? Anything you post can end up in the wrong hands. Picture this: someone wants to ‘become you‘. They will make an effort to look like you, steal your personal data ( hobbies, likes, dislikes), and pretend to be you. You give them all the tools needed in that sense. They will be able to answer any question about you, after going through your private messages, pages, groups, apps, interests, friends and pictures. Remember those security questions your answered a while back? (‘What’s your mothers maiden name?’). Easy information.

4. Phone Company

You text, you delete the text from your phone, and it’s gone? You call, hang up, and no recording of your conversation will be kept? Are you that sure? Didn’t it ever happen to hear a broken recording tape sound when talking on your phone? Neither hearing other voices during your phone call?

They phone companies can record and store all your conversations and texts. They do store all your voicemails and, by law, they have to store the ‘meta data’.

More than this, they know where you travel. How? When you move from one point to another in the country or abroad, your are switched from one cell to another. This is not only a way to find out where YOU are, but also to find out WHO ELSE you travel with.

5. Your Bank

Did you ever got a phone call from a guy talking very fast: “Hello, I am a broker and I want to talk to you about this investment … ” ? Where did he got your phone number from? How does he know you’ve received a transfer and you posses cash in your account? Only your bank has access to that information, right? Or, do they?

Have you ever watched missing persons documentaries? Someone interested in this, can find out exactly how much you’ve spent, where you’ve been and when, by looking at your bank statements, since the beginning of the bank account to the present day. If someone is really interested in ‘meeting’ you, they can notice a certain pattern in your spending ( e.g. shopping for food every Saturday morning, at X Supermarket) and also keep track of what you buy! At some point Target congratulated a teen-age lady on her pregnancy, before her parents knew about it. Impossible? It happens all the time.

Now, with the internet banking becoming more and more popular, the risk of your banking information ending in someone else’s hands, it’s even higher.

If I want to become you, I can read all your emails, know your history, your work, your thoughts and I can use all that information to harm you. I can persuade you or people, to give me access to your bank statements, phone records, texts, conversations, by creating and using an invented scenario that increases the chance to divulge information or perform actions that give me access to what I want to know.

If you don’t give me the information, I can simply take it away from you. I can just burn a CD, containing a malware, write on it “Executive Salary Summary – year X”, and leave it at your work place, somewhere where I know you find it. You wouldn’t resist the temptation to check it out, right? The malware would be unknowingly installed by you, likely giving me unfettered access to your PC and information.

With the right skills, your personal data might end up on the wrong hands. Even if every company mentioned above state they are careful with your data, most of them are, but in the same time, some might make you think they are careful, and sale your information to whom might benefit them.

I believe the scenarios mentioned above aren’t far away from reality, but they are the actual reality.

We trust our computers and phones with a lot of personal information, which can be used in our detriment in case they end up in the hands of other people. As long as the companies you trusted your personal data with are safe or ‘good guys’, you are safe. But what if they stop being good guys, who owns the information you post online? What if they get hacked? What if you give away the access by mistake? Ask yourself, what could they find out about you, if all of the above would be revealed? Would you still be safe?

You still believe I can’t become YOU?

Relationship Status: Who cares?!

If you use Facebook you probably have at least one friend like this. Which friend I’m talking about? That friend who’s always single during the week, in a relationship during the weekend, and has the acute need to advertise it, like every person they meet is THE ONE.

Then breaks up, deletes all the pictures, and posts a status in which drama is overflowing into every one of their friend’s News Feed. After a few such dramatic posts, someone tries to be ‘nice’ and asks: ‘What’s wrong?‘ or ‘What happened?‘. The answer comes shortly after: ‘I don’t want to talk about it.’ or ‘Message me on private‘. I always have to wonder: Why on Earth do you whine about it in public then, if you don’t want to talk about it?!

This person is very heartbroken, posts quotes about how the nasty ex is guilty for everything bad happening in the world (Ebola and the Global Warming suddenly appear into the picture) and about how strong you have to be during such moments.

After this, the period when the friend tries to appear happy arrives. They post pictures with descriptions like: ‘With my friends xoxo‘ , ‘My dog who won’t break my heart like others do‘, ‘On this amazing trip, getting drunk and having fun‘ and so on. 52484175

And this goes on and on for months, until he/she is in a good mood after being in a few months of stable relationship (what an accomplishment! *rolling eyes*) during which you are bombarded with pictures of ‘the meal we ate together‘, ‘us holding hands at my fish’s funeral‘, and other such ‘important’ moments in the life of a couple.

If they don’t break up (which involves again deleting pictures, and posting nasty quotes) they get married after five months and divorced one year later, when the cycle restarts.

I’m talking about that friend which goes on the profile page and when Facebook asks ‘What’s on your mind?‘, takes it too seriously, and uses the wall as a tissue.

Why would some people who barely know you (coworkers, colleagues from school, people you added to play games with) be interested in what’s going on in your bedroom? Isn’t it a bit embarrassing to invite in your bed a bunch of strangers? Oh, you post it for your ex? Right … Please, tell me more about how those posts will fix things between your two, or make him/her feel worse about the way things didn’t work out.

Why does Facebook need to know what’s going on in your private life? If your future employer looks through your profile, would he feel impressed about your changing dates more often than your underwear?

What happens on the internet, stays on the internet. Do you want, in 30 years from now, to have an electronic list of all the people who ever checked-in in your bed?

Believe me, no one cares! You just amuse some of your ‘friends’ (usually the ones who ask for more details and act interested) and get others to pity you, and delete you from their list.

So, do yourself and us all a favor, stop being such drama queens and stop wiping your nose on a status message. Invest the time wasted for all this nonsense, into actually fixing and dealing with what needs to be solved.


I apologize for the large amount of sarcasm, but it just had to be said 🙂