After exhausting the more obvious, my friend just asked 'Would you like a hug?'.
The crying woman smiled.
A friend of mine was on her way home from work yesterday and noticed a young woman crying. My friend went over to her and asked her if she was ok. (Well, obviously she wasn't, but you know, it was a conversation starter.) The friend asked a number of more immediate questions: Can you get home? Do you need anything? Can I do anything to help?
After exhausting the more obvious, my friend just asked 'Would you like a hug?'.
The crying woman smiled.
I have been in awe of the work of Dr Catherine Hamlin AC, Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia, for some time and can't believe it's taken me this long to post about it. Dr Hamlin has a dream to eradicate obstetric fistula for Ethiopian women. At the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital women are treated for this which not only puts their health at risk, but they are ostracised by their family and community. Dr Hamlin has created a safe place where women can go for treatment and are valued for the beautiful people that they are. But it doesn't stop there. Dr Hamlin has also set up a college that trains midwives so that there is greater opportunity to avoid obstetric fistula.
This is a wonderful organisation and they have current campaign to fundraise 600 for 600: 600 fistula operations at $600.
So, hit up 60 of your friends for $10 each and donate here.
“Give others all that is alive in us—our interest, understanding, our knowledge, our humor, everything in us that’s good. In doing so, we enhance the sense of aliveness in others while enhancing our own. When we give, we get a “heightened vitality” of what it means to be human.” –Erich Fromm
Generally I choose not to focus on the more high profile causes, but this one caught my attention this week. Well, it was hard to miss popping up a number of times in my Facebook newsfeed.
I dare say that most of us will, unfortunately, somehow be affected by cancer during our lifetime. This week we saw the launch of a photographic exhibition in Chrissie Amphlett’s honour. These photographs were taken by photographer Tony Mott during Chrissie’s time with the Divinyls. Tony recently gave all the photos he had to Chrissie’s husband, Charley Drayton, who with Tony's knowledge decided to use them in an exhibition to raise awareness about self examination for breast cancer run by the NSW Cancer Council’s I touch myself campaign.
This campaign particularly focuses on breast cancer and it is probably also worth noting that the National Breast Cancer Foundation also undertakes research specifically for this. But, what I particularly like about the Cancer Council NSW's campaign is the way that Chrissie and her husband, with Tony Mott’s cooperation, creatively used what essentially cost them nothing in such a creative and generous way. It highlights for me how we can use things already at our fingertips which we might not have even considered.
Photographs and artwork is an excellent example, especially old photos, but they don’t have to be old. But using a theme would work really well, particularly if there is some way it can relate directly to your cause. But again, the pictures don’t have to. They can be gathered from a single collection – great if you have access to a photographer or artist - or use the opportunity to invite submissions from people you know (or people you don’t know!). One of the junior-senior schools in my area has an annual art show where the students produce paintings and a number of more well known local artists and celebrities are invited to contribute a painting also. None of the artworks have names on them and over the course of several hours guests bid for artwork they like (or suspect is done by a particular person). This exhibition has become an anticipated community event and I think it might be so popular now that they have limited entry to ticket purchases.
You never know, your small creative idea might just become something for your organisation you never imagined.
I touch myself project – exhibition
17th April – 10th May 2014
Blender Gallery; 16 Elizabeth St, Paddington, NSW
Cancer Council Australia
“Gentleness, self-sacrifice and generosity are the exclusive possession of no one race or religion.” – Mohandas Gahndi
“If you’re in the luckiest 1pc of humanity, you owe it to the rest of humanity
Obviously, we are not all in the 1pc, but we 99pc can still be proactive and make a difference somewhere. There are many reasons why we give, and they’re not entirely altruistic: to feel good, to make a difference, as a tax deduction, to empower the powerless, personal experience, our own values or a sense of duty. But, giving is good!
“To give away money is an easy matter and in any man's power. But to decide to
One of my friends, via Facebook, mentioned that she and her husband had money to give somewhere and wanted suggestions from friends for where it could go. This was possibly a first for me. I don’t think it is usual for people to invite suggestions for who they should donate to, do they? I was curious to follow what sorts of things her friends suggested.
“If you can't feed a hundred people, then feed just one”. – Mother Teresa
I thought it important to create a giving site that was devoted to collecting and promoting non-judgemental and apolitical ways that we can give. Often, giving is centred around money – donating to charities directly or via activities of friends who are undertaking a task in favour of a particular organisation. But there are ways to give that don’t involve money, including: volunteering, making goods, giving away things we no longer use and using our own personal networks to raise awareness about an issue or cause that we feel strongly about.
“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” - Theodore Roosevelt
Plenty of organisations don’t have the resources to get their profile out there like some of the more well-known charities and not for profit organisations. And, as already mentioned, giving doesn’t have to be limited to charities or NFPs. There are community activities that we can get involved in to encourage others and build relationships.
So, let’s go. Let’s make a difference in whatever way we can.
“How wonderful that no one need wait a single moment to improve the world.” – Anne Frank
All quotes sourced from the National Philanthropic Trust
I have a little friend who has Cystic Fibrosis. You wouldn't know it to look at him, but, every day he is at extreme risk of infection. Why's this bad? Having Cystic Fibrosis, which is inherited genetically, means that this gorgeous little boy is at extremely high risk of potentially life threatening respiratory and digestive problems. The excessive mucus of CF can trap bacteria in the lungs and obstruct the digestive function of the pancreas. He has daily physiotherapy and medications, and at such a young age (<18 months old) has been admitted to hospital twice and had two general anaesthetics and spent two weeks in hospital on an IV drip.
One in 2500 babies is born with CF and about one in 25 people carries the gene. While the gene responsible for causing Cystic Fibrosis has been identified no cure has been found and researchers are working hard towards finding a way to fix the faulty gene or replace it.
So, what can you do? Firstly, donate or fundraise to support the work of those who are trying to cure this.
Or be creative:
My little friend's mother and her friends are doing something a little fun. They're having an afternoon of Fashion and Fundraising. They've invited friends and family to join them for a few hours one weekend and everyone's encouraged to bring something fashiony (think clothes, bags, accessories) in good condition to give away. Then, while the guests enjoy a little bit of nibbly hospitality the organisers will sort the donation items ready for guest to purchase back. It's a great way to clear out excess clothes and help a very worthy cause.
My grandparents’ house was surrounded by trees, vines, sheds, veggie gardens, fruit trees, a chook pen, and a yard where my grandfather kept his beloved angora goats. During one of our pilgrimages from interstate back to their place when I was a child, I remember playing in the garden around their old, uninhabited, powder blue cottage next door which smelled of honey and was covered in ivy. Most likely with a belly full of my grandmother’s traditional honey-biscuits I'd probably been out there for a couple of hours. I would have been caught up in my own imaginary world, probably pretending to be my latest favourite cartoon or book character, when I was snapped out of it and back into reality.
As I was playing by the back door of the cottage out the corner of my eye something caught my attention. There was a small baby blackbird sitting on the cement path just beside the ivy and chirping. I couldn’t see a nest or a mother so I ran over and collected it up knowing that if I left it there it would likely be attended to by any number of other wildlife around the place. “Nanna! Nanna!” I took the bird to her and she walked with me back to the cottage to try and find its nest amongst the ivy. Another blackbird scratching all the dirt out of the gardens and onto the recently swept paths was probably the last thing my Nanna wanted, but she ignored that and helped her granddaughter, whose purpose it was to protect this helpless creature. Nanna found the nest and with her help I carefully placed the baby bird back into it where its mother would find it when she got home.
There seems to be so much happening around me. So many things demanding my attention, engaging me, distracting me, inspiring me, confusing me, enraging me, comforting me. So many blackbirds. With many friends and family on social media I hear all sorts of stories with varying degrees of inspiration and heartbreak. But even the heartbreaking ones can be inspiring –inspire me into action. To share, to donate, to do. Something. Anything. Publicly. Privately.
There is much to do and I’m just one person. If only I could collate a heap of different ways that we can help others and put them in one place where the load can be shared, perhaps I won’t feel quite so helpless or like the job is too big.
Wait! I can!
Every now and again I have a burst of energy (or cupboard doors) and clean out my wardrobe. Project Uplift collects bras and sends them to women in some of the Pacific Islands. You can donate bras or money to get the bras to them via Project Uplift - $10 will get 65 bras there.