March 2018: Still or sparkling?

Earlier this year, in a retro move back to the 80s, we bought a SodaStream so we can make our own sparkling water at home. Up until this point our weekly shop included purchasing ten to twelve bottles of sparkling water and lugging them home – from the cashier to the car in a trolley, from the supermarket to home in the car and then carrying them inside. Oh, what a hardship it was.

Which of course makes my guilt all the greater when I think that for not that much more than a few SodaStream machines, our March donation will provide safe water to 797 community members for a whole year via ‘Dispensers for Safe Water’.

Every year over two million people die from water, sanitation and hygiene-related causes. Childhood diarrhea alone, caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation, kills more than 315,000 children each year.

Dispensers for Safe Water was named a Standout Charity in 2017 by GiveWell.

So as we set the table for dinner of the evening and check who wants what to drink – still or sparkling? –it’s yet another reminder to be so so grateful for the life of privilege we are enjoying.

October 2017: Double it, and double it again

It’s that time of year… tax return time. Such a pain digging out all the necessary bits of paperwork, swearing as I do that next year I will keep better records, but a bonus when our returns come in. And tax return month means more money to give away as it’s added to our 5% pledge, effectively doubling our contribution for the month.

Around the time we were starting to think about how to donate our month’s funds, an article by Mark Handby was published in The Age about the Bangladesh refugee camps: It’s hard to work here but almost unimaginable to live here.

The article paints a bleak picture of the conditions Myanmar refugees are facing in a bid to simply survive the coming days. If you’re lucky, shelter is a tarpaulin. There is hardly any access to any form of toilet. There is little safe water to drink. Monsoon season means the camp is muddy, in places up to the knees. Yet in the coming dry season the heat will dry up the few water sources. And every day, thousands more people arrive in the camps.

Our October funds went to the Red Cross Myanmar Crisis Appeal – which aims to provide desperately needed food, medical equipment, toilets and water pumps. It is not on the official list of ‘effective charities’, however at the time the Australian Government was pledging to double all donations made by individuals, effectively doubling what our – already doubled for the month, thanks to tax time – contribution could do.

In his article Mark says, and I paraphrase: Although conditions are extremely tough and precarious, I see evidence everywhere I look of how the people are welcoming, resilient and resourceful. They support each other despite their hardships. It fills me with hope among all the anguish. I have seen how a little help can go a very long way to providing the basics that everyone here deserves. It can show these resilient, loving, brave people that they are not forgotten; that they matter.