Sustainable Philanthropy of a Common Teacher

When you love something you don't mind spending your hard-earned money on it.
That's why men are willing to part with ridiculous amounts of money for a ring with an enormous stone & then splash even more cash on elaborate preparations & celebrations.
Also, it's the reason why women are willing to purchase tons of merchandise bearing the images of pop artists although they do not understand a word they say in their catchy songs.

It also works the other way around.
The more you invest time/effort/money into something, the more you pay attention to it.
At the end of the day, you invest because you love it & then you cant let it go because you've put in too much. It could be a vicious cycle or it could be a wonderful synergy of motivation, passion & purpose.
I say 'invest' because putting time/effort/money into something you love is never a waste. You will always gain something from it that feeds your spirit.

Similarly, if you're a teacher & you love what you do, you will usually spend your own money on your activities or on your students.
Plainly because you don't mind parting with a little bit of money to make things better for others.
Then again, little things have a way of becoming really big.

By the end of 2012, I will have spent RM6240:

Birthday Cupcakes
450 students x RM2
Exam Rewards
30 students x 4 classes x 4 exams x RM0.5
3 top scorers x 4 classes x 4exams x RM2.5
Staff Appreciation
1 kitchen staff x 10 months x RM10
1 guards x 10 months x RM10
4 labourers  x 10 months x RM10
9 wardens x 2 semesters x RM10
PMR Rewards
5 English A students x RM200
2 PMR 7A students x RM500
SPM Rewards
1 BI A student x RM500
1 SPM 7A student x RM500
12 months x RM100


That's almost equivalent to 2 months of my salary.
I love doing what I do. Even though I do not make much compared to many of my high flying friends, working here to give purpose to young people & train them towards a better life is something that feeds my spirit. I feel there is a greater purpose in what I'm doing.
Men were never meant to work for money. We were meant to work for ideals.
This is my ideal: to see change in the impoverished Iban people of the Katibas region.

This is why I am very willing to spend my own money on my students & my activities.
As the years go by, my spending has increased with my responsibilities (from an English language teacher to Data Teacher to English Panel Head to Chief Warden).
Just by looking at the amount I'd spend this year, even a donkey would know that it is not sustainable.

Currently, I am unmarried & I have no girlfriend.
I have no financial commitments except towards my parents & life insurance. I don't have to pay for a car or a house.
I have plenty of disposable income & I invest it back into my work at school.
However, I do not plan to stay like this until retirement.

In the next few years, I plan to find a special woman, get married & start building a family together.
By then, whatever disposable income I have would have to be kept for a rainy day. I would not be able to do what I am doing today.
I would have to put an end to most of the 'carrots' I use to motivate/appreciate the people who work with me & the incentive-distracted students whom I put through the pressure cooker every day.
I feel that my work has become even more effective with these self-sponsored initiatives. It also gives me credibility when I advice students/staff because I put my money where my mouth is & give something to them at my own expense.

I need to find a way to make it sustainable.
No, I am not willing to cheat, steal or beg.
No, I am not willing to make money off my poor students or my co-workers who labour tirelessly with me.
No, it must not distract me from my work at school. It is why I'm doing this in the first place.
I have a few ideas & time will tell if they materialise. You'll be sure to read about it on my blog.

Anyway, do you spend your own money on school too?
What do you do to make it sustainable?
Do share!

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