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.

April 2019: Water, water everywhere…

It seemed only fitting that as our kids have decided the last two months’ charities, it was time for Dave to have a turn. Despite a ridiculous schedule of full time work, volunteer soccer coaching which takes more time than the full time paid work, and a dash of overseas travel sprinkled on top, he managed to find time to research a great charity for April. Over to him to explain…

charity:water gives 100% of donations to clean water projects around the world.

In April it was my task to choose our charity donation for the month. As ever the task was to find a charity that did the most good with our money.

In researching I came across charity:water.  The charity was founded by a New York nightclub promoter Scott Harrison who burned out after a life of drugs and alcohol and decided to do something positive with his life. https://youtu.be/V4E1t2yIZlc (warning – video is ten minutes long so don’t start watching it when you’re rushing out of the house as we did…)

With 663 million people, or one in ten people in the world, without access to clean water, charity:water funds projects across the world to stop people having to drink dirty and polluted water, in turn preventing disease. Having access to clean water allows families to go to school, work and reduces stress on health care systems.

The charity is funded by private donations, with 100% of all public donations going to projects to provide clean water.

To date they’ve funded 38,113 water projects for 9.6 million people across Africa, Southern Asia and South America, and all projects are mapped and registered.

https://www.charitywater.org/our-projects/completed-projects

Like many fortunate people our family take for granted access to clean water at home, so this month the Tapping Family donated A$898.96 to charity:water. The money will help progress the vision of providing clean drinking water to the remaining 653.4 million people around the world who still do not have access to clean water and have to drink dirty unsafe water… putting their health and futures at risk. 

November 2018: The Tap-Out

My 12 year old daughter and I both recently read ‘Dry’ by the Shustermans. A teen fiction book, the novel outlines the repercussions of a fictional Californian drought that escalates to catastrophic precautions. The ‘Tap-Out’, as it’s referred to in the book, comes to a head when the taps run dry. Within days neighbours and the local community have turned on each other in the search for water.

While reading the book I felt a little guilty every time I turned on the tap for a glass of water, to brush my teeth, or to have a shower. How completely we take this luxury – access to clean water – for granted.

As often happens in what appears the perfect synchronicity of the world, around the same time we received a letter from Care Australia seeking support for their appeal to bring safe and clean water to some of the most remote and vulnerable families in the world. 

Care’s appeal words ‘… because what you get with the turn of a tap, some children have to walk miles for…’ couldn’t have come at a more apt time, with water scarcity and supply being top of mind.  On top of the availability of water, often the water children are walking miles to collect is dirty – full of dangerous, deadly bacteria. It can be collected from an open well – a hole in the ground where water gathers, along with rubbish, animal waste and many other things no one should be drinking.

Our November donation provides 123 families in remote areas, where water cleanliness and supply are real life-threatening issues, with access to clean, safe water from a borehole.

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.