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.



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.

September 2017: Give your birthday to make them smile at Christmas

Through my job I am lucky enough to have met a gorgeous colleague who lives and works in the Côte d’Ivoire in Africa. She has been out to Melbourne twice and it’s been lovely getting to know her.

This year Doris was recognised at work for a charity she has set up, ‘Gift your birthday’. People pledge their birthdays to the charity, and instead of presents their family and friends donate money or goods. The ‘Gift your birthday’ organization then arranges four events each year to pass the money and goods on to people in need in Côte d’Ivoire – orphans, handicapped children, those living with ill health or in poverty.

Doris visited Melbourne for the second time in September and spent a fun day with our family – bbq breakfast Aussie style overlooking the water and the city views, fiercely contested soccer match (turns out Doris loves her soccer as much as my son loves his), stroll through the local market, all topped off with ice cream in the sunshine.

Lots of fun and also a great opportunity to hear more about the charity Doris has set up, her motivation and her experience.

As a result, our September donation was made directly into the bank account of ‘Gift your birthday’. The money goes towards their last event for 2017, the ‘Make them smile for Christmas’ campaign. The event aims to provide 150 children who are handicapped or living in difficult conditions with Christmas presents, as well as equipping the canteen of a local centre in Côte d’Ivoire.

Our pale blue dot is definitely a kinder place thanks to people like Doris.

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.