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.

January 2018: Money for mates

I’ve always loved sponsoring any of my friends or colleagues when they’re fundraising for causes that mean a lot to them. It is in fact my favourite type of giving because multiple people gain from it – the person raising the money, the person giving the money and the person receiving the money. The triple threat of fundraising, if you like.

So I was delighted to receive two requests for support this month from friends who are doing crazy long walks and runs to raise money for… Fred Hollows and Oxfam.

My triple threat suddenly became a quadruple threat, with the added bonus that their chosen causes are officially approved effective altruism charities.

So this month – which was a ‘poor’ month because I took the whole month off work to hang out with the kids so we are donating only out of one salary – we’ve split our donation between our friends’ worthy causes.

Through our amazing ex-neighbour who is walking the Oxfam Trail, our money will provide a farmer in Malawi with fertilizer, seeds and tools to market and sell produce.

Through our equally amazing current neighbours who are both doing the Fred Hollows Coastrek, our money will provide screening for 250 children in Laos.

Happy trails to you all.