March 2019: For the girls

Our kids both recognised International Women’s Day in March, participating in events at their local high school. Given the decision-making baton for this month’s donation the events were obviously on the mind of my son who researched a suitable charity to fit the theme. Over to him…

This month, the Tapping Family has decided to donate to the Ibba Girls School in South Sudan. We have picked this charity because of the recent IWD celebrations, and for equality in an underprivileged part of the world.

Our donation will feed one girl for two and a bit years, allowing her to study better, and become educated in a country where the amount of literate women as a percentage of the female population is the lowest in the world; just 16%.

We hope that those at the Ibba Girls School have a good year.

January 2019: Back to school

Where we live, in Australia, the end of January is synonymous with hot weather and kids going back to school. First day back at school for both of our kids was a stinking hot day – 35 degrees. But they both rode off to the local high school, perfectly situated right next to the beach. And rode home, able to jump into our pool to cool off.  Living the life.

They also both had their pick of school lunches to take with them.

My son, a stereotypical ‘growing lad’ of 14 who tucks away an extraordinary amount of food and is still skinny as a rake, opted for three roast beef and salad rolls and two apples. He likes food he can hold in hands and eat while he plays soccer. Why waste lunch time sitting around eating, right?

My daughter, embarking on her first year of high school, chose to take her primary school lunch box with its little compartments that can be filled with sandwiches, fruit and a ‘treat’ for her sweet tooth. But no yoghurt – as apparently this year yoghurt is embarrassing. Go figure, poor yoghurt will need to employ a PR agent for the pre-teen demographic it seems.

Once again, their privilege – simply in being able to choose what they’d have for their school lunches – was apparent.

And talking about it was a good reminder for us as a family that in some countries the incentive of a school lunch is enough to get kids to school – increasing their opportunity for learning. Vice versa, if you’re at school and you haven’t eaten, your ability to learn is compromised.  

In July 2017, one of our first effective altruism monthly donations went to Oxfam, donating school meals for 23 children for a year. We backed this up with our January 2019 donation. Due to me not working for half of January, and perhaps the price of supplying school lunches increasing, our commitment to donating 5% of our income translates to school lunches for 12 children every day for the next year.

September 2018: High-quality healthcare in the Himalayas

In September and October we were lucky enough to have a family holiday to Nepal. A fortnight of exploring Kathmandu, mountain trekking, whitewater rafting and national parks. It is a beautiful place.

It is also poor. So much poorer than I expected. And the poverty seemed fairly universal.

With poverty comes self-sufficiency. More than 80% of Nepalese people still live in rural areas, and often grow their own food. In the areas we trekked there were no roads so any food was either grown locally or brought in by donkey.

With rural living comes isolation. And a lack of access to essential services, such as medical treatment.

We met a waiter who told us he looked after his mother and his sister as his father had become ill and they couldn’t afford the medical treatment he required so they had to ‘let him go’.

We knew we wanted our monthly donation to help in some small way.  We found Possible, an organization that provides sustainable health care to Nepal’s poorest communities.

And our monthly donation will provide 15 patients with quality healthcare they wouldn’t otherwise receive.

 

 

July and August 2018: Raising effective altruists

After just over a year of effective altruism, with 13 regular family discussions to decide where to direct that month’s money under our belt, we decided it was time to hand the reins over to the kids for a couple of months. With a few guidelines in place – aimed at directing their ideas towards effective charities – they went away to research and came back to the family with three choices for our monthly donations. We then discussed the options and voted for where the money would be donated out of the three options presented. Our daughter, who is 12, took July. And our son, who is 14, took August.

Over to them…

July

The Food Fortification Initiative provides food fortified with iron and other minerals to people who lack the basic nutrition needed to survive healthily. I chose this charity because last year I wrote a speech for school about people who needed this food, and when I looked up photos to support my arguments and to persuade people to pay attention to these people, the images that I saw made me think about what it really would be like to live in those conditions. Even though it was just another school project, I stopped thinking about the spelling and grammar of my speech and began wondering if people like us (who live in first world countries [I’m assuming the reader of this lives in a first world country as they need to access a computer/iPad/iPhone to read this]) would be able to live in these conditions, having lived in the lap of luxury compared to the people in the photos for most of our lives. And when I thought deeper about the lives some people are living, I decided I really wanted to improve those lives because after all, we are all humans and we all deserve to live great lives. And so that is why I chose the FFI as this month’s charity.

August

I was given the donation money for August and asked to find three viable charities to donate to. I began by doing a general search of “good charities”, which probably gives you a good indication of my experience in this field. In the end, the three charities that stood out were: Save The Children, Afghanaid and one more charity which assisted “fake” orphans in Nepal as well as other countries. Save the Children was our selected charity, and we donated four barns of animals to people in need. These animals will provide food as well as income for the families, both vital to survival. One of my other charities, Afghanaid, assisted Afghani people with education so that they can better help their communities, as well as fruit trees to provide food for rural towns. My final charity helps children who are stolen from their families and called orphans, to reunite with their family. They work in Nepal, a country that our family will be visiting shortly. I am happy to help people in need by providing food and income and our whole family is happy to have bettered four families in need.

April 2018: Give Directly. No strings attached.

This month we are trying something different and instead of donating to an effective program we are donating directly to individuals via Give Directly.

Give Directly provides unconditional cash transfers to some of the poorest people in Kenya and Uganda. These are people who are living on around 65 cents a day. If I buy a coffee at a café I’ve automatically spent seven times that.

The money is provided for the families to spend in the way that suits them best – they can buy much-needed food and shelter, educate their children or start small businesses.

I feel like it must be empowering – not just to be told here is a program that will help you in a certain way, but here is some money – and hence some freedom and independence – to allow you to help yourself.  No strings attached.

The success of Give Directly is backed by rigorous evidence and is backed by Give Well. On the Give Directly website you can see a live feed documenting the changes made by recipients and how they are spending the money they receive directly.  Read more here.

February 2018: Give a man a rod

Probably fair to say a lot of us have heard the proverb, ‘Give a man a fish and feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.’

Too true, but our February donation goes to an organization that takes it one step further. Because sure it’s great to know how to fish, but honestly it’s still pretty useless if you don’t have a rod or a hook or any bait.

So the One Acre Fund, a program run by Evidence Action, provides smallholder farmers in Eastern and Southern Africa, not only with the knowledge and training they require but with access to the tools and resources that go along with that.

Why farmers? ‘When farmers prosper, their communities prosper too. Children who have enough food to eat attend school more often and have better performance. They’re also healthier and are less likely to suffer from stunting and other developmental delays. When farmers have extra income, they invest it in education, they build businesses in their communities, and they help neighbors in need. And when they practice sustainable farming techniques, the environment around them benefits as well, so that future generations can continue to grow nutritious food from the land.

These are some of the poorest farmers in the world. More than 50 million smallholder farmers in the regions serviced by the One Acre Fund are unable to grow enough food to feed their families.

Our February donation provides 23 families of six, with the tools to increase farming and food production and profits by 50 per cent in a single season.

July 2017: Intellectual nourishment

The idea of sending my kids to school without a good, healthy breakfast inside them fills me with a mild terror. How would they concentrate? How would they learn? Would they make it through to recess time without breaking down? These are privileged kids who rarely go a couple of hours without something to snack on or declaring they’re ‘starving’.

Yet each day literally millions of children across the globe turn up for school on an empty stomach. Or they don’t turn up at all.

Provision of a daily school meal is a proven, strong incentive for families to consistently send their children to school. Not only do the kids get access to at least one good meal a day, it means they are at school and learning. It’s an important tool in increasing the education of a whole generation and helping break the cycle of hunger and poverty.

Our July donation went to Oxfam – one of The Life You Can Save website’s highly effective charities. Specifically it went towards providing school meals to encourage students to attend and stay in school.

Our month’s donation was enough to provide school meals every school day for 23 children for a whole year.

Making school lunches for our own kids is a relentless chore. It’s like groundhog day. Here we are another morning, here we are at the kitchen bench making up the school lunch boxes. Again. Weren’t we just here yesterday?

Yet now, for the next year, as we make school lunches for our own kids – a roll, a piece of fruit, a sweet treat – we can mull over the fact that firstly we’re lucky to have the means to do so, and secondly that somewhere later today 23 kids will have their own school lunch courtesy of us.

It’s definitely food for thought.