June 2019: Support your tribe – SurfAid

Nothing like a bit of an incident when you’re travelling in a remote area to provide a sharp reminder of how lucky we are to have the health care we do in Australia. And how many people in other places are going without that level of medical support and resources.

We recently got back from a ten-day family holiday in Indonesia. Highlights included meeting lovely people, relaxing overlooking gorgeous tropical views, and escaping Melbourne’s freezing winter for a while. As with any travel to less developed countries there was also a healthy dose of guilt involved: environmental damage via our flights, inequality of lifestyles, the ability to pay for activities geared exclusively to tourists.

The one activity our kids had their hearts set on was surfing. We’ve all surfed before, but by no means are anywhere near proficient… as evidenced by our collection of surfing injury stories. The fact that we have surfing injury stories should have been warning in itself, but off we went surfing again nevertheless. Because it’s so much fun!

And as a result of our hedonistic pursuits we have a new surfing injury tale to add to our set. Whoever saw that coming?!

Being injured on a remote third-world island, a good hour or two by boat and road from the nearest hospital, brought home rapidly how lucky we are to have the healthcare we do in Melbourne.

So of course it was top of mind when thinking about where to make this month’s charity donation – it had to go to some sort of effective health care charity, preferably in Indonesia.

It completely tickled my fancy when we found SurfAid. What could be more perfect for this month’s donation, than a tribe of surfers who have banded together to push a wave of support to the health, well being and self reliance of people in isolated regions, including Indonesia?

SurfAid aim to provide very practical support – think materials to build water tanks, water taps and toilets for clean water and sanitation, mosquito nets to avoid malaria, materials for community health posts to support pregnant women, mothers and children, and materials for evacuation roads to help communities escape to safety if another tsunami hits. They are aiming to build the capacity of community members, schoolchildren, community health volunteers and relevant government staff to increase the independence and health status of communities and reduce the risk from natural disasters.

It’s a big thank you to the SurfAid tribe from us for their work in these remote communities. And for now, maybe we’ll just be sticking to dry land for a while.

May 2019: There’s an app for that

I had an idea for an app last week. I needed potatoes for dinner and rather than walk around the shop I was definitely in the market for an app that would let me press a few buttons and potatoes would magically appear out of my iPhone. I’m going to call it ‘Spudmeister’. My other idea for an app is ‘RipenMyAvocadoRightNow’ where you wave your iPhone and the app over the rock hard avocado you have earmarked for lunch and it magically turns ripe and soft. You heard it here first.

One app that is a little closer to reality comes from The Life You Can Save, and is now in beta testing. We trialled it out Sunday night and it’s ace.

We divided our May donation of $891 four ways and all took a turn at the app.

With my share I cured three people of blindness through 15 minute cataract surgery. Talk about seeing the light.

My daughter was next up and she chose to help 600 children avoid malnutrition, the leading cause of intellectual disability and blindness, through provision of micronutrients. She just turned 13 so in the same tech session was allowed to download Instagram. While she was chuffed to assist 600 children, finally getting Insta won out as the highlight of her evening.

My husband was next. He loved the micronutrients option too and was able to help an additional 560 children. The fact that he did it from the comfort of his couch with a glass of red in hand probably helped his feeling of good will.

Our son got home a bit later and took his turn. Having just finished a school assignment on third-world countries’ most pressing health issues, he opted for protecting 150 people from malaria for three to four years through the purchase of 75 bed nets.

So all in all, 1,313 people helped through The Life You Can Save app. It’s a thumbs up on the beta testing from us.

Now to the shops to buy a ripe avocado for dinner…

December 2018: Double Up Drive

The ‘Double Up Drive’ is now in its fifth year. Details on the website are scant, but in essence it looks like five professional poker players who pledge every year to match donations given to certain charities, up to a total this year of almost $2.5 million.

One of the charities supported in the Double Up Drive this year is the Against Malaria Foundation – an organisation that always ranks highly on the effectiveness charts and that we’ve supported twice in the past.

While there seems something a little random about having our donation matched by poker players, we’re going to roll (the dice!) with it and give it a go.

Our December donation goes to Against Malaria Foundation providing 178 malaria nets that will protect around 318 people. And with thanks to the Double Up Drive poker players this will increase to 356 nets protecting 637 people.

Thanks guys – may all your cards be royal.  

June 2018: One year on

After one full year of effective altruism, we have come full circle and given this month’s donation to the Against Malaria Foundation. Our thirteenth month of giving provides 269 nets, protecting an estimated 484 people from malaria for three to four years.

Looking back over the year’s donations brings a sense of pride. It is an easy thing to do and has helped develop a deeper sense of gratitude among the family for what we have and how fortunate we are.

June 2017: Stopping the world’s second deadliest animal, one bite at a time

Have you ever asked your kids or a group of friends what they think is the world’s deadliest animal?  It’s a great conversation starter. My kids kicked about some ideas when we asked them – sharks are pretty vicious, but they don’t have access to that many people ocean-bound as they are; maybe lions, they’re not called king of the jungle for nothing; rhinos are very heavy, if you live in Melbourne you know for sure a rhino on a skateboard is just as dangerous as a tram.

In reality, sharks come in at #20 on the world’s deadliest list, lions at #14 and poor old mis-represented rhinos don’t make the list at all.

Up nearer the top of the list of world’s deadliest animals, the tinsy-tiny-hugely-annoying mosquito is coming in at #2. Mosquitos are carriers of fatal diseases – malaria and dengue anyone? – which kill up to 1,000,000 people every year.

In 2016 there were 216,000,000 cases of malaria globally, and 445,000 malaria deaths. Seventy per cent of malaria cases are children under five.

The most effective way to avoid contracting malaria, is to avoid getting bitten by a mosquito.  And long-lasting insecticidal nets, providing protection during overnight sleep when those annoying pesky mozzies are most active, are the most effective way to avoid getting bitten.  Yes, more effective even than the good old mozzie zapper we used to all have in our back yards – ah, the serenity of mozzies getting fried against the electrical wires.

Nets are cheap – $2 each. The Against Malaria Foundation (AMF) spends 100% of donated funds on nets and ensures the nets get to those who need them most.

Our June funds went to AMF. CEO Rob Mather sent us this (presumably auto-generated but lovely all the same) email: I am catching up on some of the recent donations to AMF and wished to thank you for your generosity and support. It is very much appreciated. 100% of your AUS$829.21 donation will buy 289 long-lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs) and protect an estimated 520 people. That’s an entire village. Brilliant.

In our first month of effective altruism we were told we had helped an entire village. I can’t begin to tell you the joy this brought me – and still does – and to see my kids high-five each other when they read Rob’s email was priceless.

And, in case you’re left wondering… the world’s #1 deadliest animal?  Humans.