The Do Something Awards
It has been a year now since The Bali Orphanage’s facebook page won the Do Something Award for the facebook charity category. Created by a traveling surfer to “help raise awareness of a remote orphanage in Bali – Indonesia”, the
facebook page( www.facebook.com/thebaliorphanage )was very slow in growing with only one or two fans joining per week.
“I remember getting so excited when someone left their first comment.” remembers Charlie Halsell. “I’d get up at around 4am, start a pot of coffee and then head straight for the computer to see the new comments.” “One or two new “Likes” made me so happy, so to see so when people actually started asking if they could actually VISIT the children, I just about went through the roof!” “Whole families and groups of people –even nurses and doctors – started to donate their time volunteering at the orphanage” “They brought their suitcase full of clothes, toys and medicine, books and all kinds of stuff!”
“Austrailia is so close to Bali, that about 70% of the visitors came from there.” explained Halsell. “Some of the first visitors REALLY began to feel a part of the cause.” “There is a wonderful lady that we all call “Aunty Jo” that’s from Austraila.” “She was the first real ambassador that joined in and she still jumps in and answers people’s questions and encourages them to visit on the facebook page.”
“What’s a Do Something Award?”
“After the first year the facebook page was up, I got a shoe box in the mail with a card inside that said I had been nominated for the “Do Something Awards.” “I thought that they were just trying to sell me something, so I just put it aside and ignored it.” remembers Halsell. “It wasn’t until weeks later when I listened to a message from someone from ‘MTV Networks’ that I thought that this whole thing might be legit.” “When I called and found out that the voting had begun and the page was already in the final 5 I started to get pretty excited!” “They said that they would have VIP invites for us to attend the Do Something Awards in Hollywood and that it would be live on VH1!” “I saw that the other nominees were ‘Chase Bank’ (for their 5 MILLION dollars donations to charity) and others and I thought there would be ‘no way’ but I let the facebook fans of The Bali Orphanage know about the nomination and THEY’RE the ones who made it happen!”
“When we found out that it would be a “Red Carpet” kind of event,in Hollywood, my wife Christy and I both borrowed fancy clothes from my brothers and sisters.” (Charlie comes from a family of nine children) “It was so much fun to be the only ‘non-celebrities’ there.” “Randy Jackson from ‘American Idol’ was just down the row from us and ‘Snoop Dog’ was just across from us all night.” ” For me it was great to be able to take my wife to something that “la-dee-dah” – “When we first got married we lived in a 26′ trailer from the 1950’s way up in the mountains at a fishing resort.” “The year before we celebrated our anniversary by going on a tour of the local ‘Jelly-Belly’ factory and eating at a In-N-Out burger. (and THAT was extravagant at that time!)” “Now here we were at a red-carpet event in Hollywood and I felt very blessed to be able to have gone there as a couple.” “We were in borrowed clothes – but we were THERE!”
Other winners of the Do Something Award were Leonardo DiCaprio, “Glee” the Tv Show, Jonas Brothers, Hannah Teter, Kathy Griffin, Tyra Banks, Alyssa Milano, the city of Austin Texas and the film “I am because we are” – a documentary about the orphaned children suffering in Malawi.
“It’s amazing to see how far things have come at the orphanage.” says Halsell. “When I first went there in the early 90’s, the children only had one set of clothes – t-shirts so worn out that you could see through them and ragged pants with no shoes.”
“How ‘Give Jewelry’ came about was because of a promise I made on that first visit.” “It was the last day of a two month trip and one of the older boys pulled me aside.” “We just small talked and joked a fair bit, but then he took both my hands and looked right into my eyes.” remembers Halsell.
“Please don’t forget about us.” the young boy said.
“He looked so serious, I remember it feeing like he was looking right through me.” “I nervously said ‘Don’t worry – I won’t’ and looked away.”
“He looked me straight in the eyes again and added, ‘Promise?’”
“Yes, yes I promise” I added and could already feel the weight of this ‘oath’ I had just made.”
“Over the next few years, I made many trips to Indonesia, surfing and doing lots of volunteer work – but never to that first orphanage.” “It seemed like I’d always be at the airport or on the return flight back to the States before I’d think about that boy and the promise I had made to him.” “I had made plenty of promises in my life without following up, but this one would not leave me alone.”
Years later Charlie met his bride to be on a volunteer trip in the mountains of Kyrgyzstan. “Christy” is the person that Charlie credits with the success of Give Jewelry and raising funds and awareness of The Bali Orphanage and others like them. “She is my constant.” “I’ve always been a dreamer with only half-follow ups at best.” “Christy doesn’t forget the goals we set together.” “On her first trip to Bali – our honeymoon – I told her about my idea of starting a business to provide for the basic needs of the children, and she said ‘Let’s go for it!’” “That’s when things started taking off.” “Before that, there were only occasional visitors to the orphanage.” “Just word getting out about us starting a company to fund the needs of the orphanage created an awareness that got all KINDS of people involved.” “The facebook fans alone brought so many donations to the orphanage in Tuka, Bali that they were able to give to other orphanages as well.” “Orphanages supporting other orphanages?” “Now THAT was awesome!”
“I always knew that I could never meet the needs of even one orphanage.” “Now with their facebook family and the Do Something Awards to help get word out, it’s great to see how many children’s lives are changed because a LOT of people are each doing a little.”
“I kept the trophy for the Do Something Award in my office for a few months, but then took it with me on my next visit to the children in Bali.” “Every time I looked at that thing, I knew that people had voted with the children in mind.” “That award was theirs and I knew it.” “I surprised them with it at a party they put on for me.” “I cried hard as I brought the trophy out of the fancy black box that it had been delivered in.” ‘This is for you guys’ I forced out through slobber and tears.” “LOTS of people from around the world know about you now – and YOU have helped THEM to feel needed again.” “and then I added lots of other mumbled stuff that I can’t really remember now.”
The “Do Something Award” now sits in the entryway to the orphanage in Tuka, Bali. It is a constant reminder to the children that THEY have made a difference. “It’s funny to think that Snoop Dog and Leonardo Di Caprio have the same trophy as the kids.” “The kids know these celebrities by name and I think it makes them feel pretty special to have something in common with them.”
So that’s the story of the first winner of the “Do Something Award” for the facebook category. You can vote for the current nominees for the 2011 Do Something Awards here at this link. 2011 Do Something Awards