Thursday, September 13, 2007

Where Do I Start . . .

Where to start? I'd rather do this as a world wide round table but the blog will have to suffice. Absolute Vanilla recently posted about the atrocities taking place in Sudan. We are all aware of them, unless you've been living under a rock for the past 10 years. The increasing number of refugees (although still very small by comparison) in Australia are testament to the problems there. We're all cogniscent of the plight of Zimbabwe and remember the awfulness of Rwanda. We abhor human rights violations in China - where they make the families of execution victims pay for the bullets that kill their relatives for Christ's sake. We are constantly remined about the treatment of the Tibetans, corruption in India, and as a citizen of a country that is part of the Coalition of the Willing - no matter what you thought of Saddam Hussein, his country is in a worse place now thanks to our baseless and ill-informed invasion.

I haven't even touched on third world farmers who are being ripped off whilst growing tea, coffee, cotton and cocoa or the poverty in Brasil or the constant subjugation and mutilation of women in third world countries - dowry bride murders and female circumcision - or the hundreds of bloodlust conflicts all over the world that will be fought . . .lost . . .then drizzle into the 'what was that all about category' (Ireland, Serbia, Croatia, Vietnam, Cambodia, East Timor) and I'm a pathetic geography student so I'm sure there are more. Even our own Aborigines live in third world poverty, stricken with conjunctivitis, deafness caused by untreated ear infections, glaucoma and malnutrition, damned to a life of endemic chroming, petrol sniffing and physical and sexual abuse. We have homeless people, abused children, impoverished elderly in a so called welfare state. Yet our trainee doctors, occupational therapists and physiotherapists would rather tag their regional studies onto an overseas holiday and spend 6 weeks in an African village drinking cheap beer or go surfing in the Solomons. With little intention of returning to do some real good. Although massive kudos to Thommos daughter for asking for pledges to the Moshi Disabled Network and Tuleeni Home for Orphans in Tanzania instead of 21st birthday presents. Love you for it Strawberrygirl.

So, feeling shameful that I don't do enough beyond the odd donation to the Make A Wish Foundation or sponsoring a child through Care Australia, or paying for the odd guide dog for the blind, Australian Conservation Foundation, Cancer Council and Heart Foundation . . what do we do about these bigger world conflicts? One of my favourite - no - oft used sayings is "Good people do nothing while bad things happen". I know so many 'good' people. Those who genuinely yearn for world peace, an end to poverty and war but how can we contribute in a meaningful and genuinely helpful way?

There must be something positive we can do. Amongst us are eloquent writers, political commentators, military men and women, angry youngsters with the energy to follow through. We have a collaboration of talent, youth, experience and realism so why can't we collaborate and form a useful, noisy and productive united front.

There are those who are afraid to give money to war-torn nations for fear that their donation will simply educate and raise another little suicide bomber or machete toting anhilator. Those who believe that 'charity begins at home' and use it for an excuse to do nothing, those who throw money at the plethora of charities that ring them each night just around tea time out of guilt rather than philanthropy. Those who knit blanket squares and woolly jumpers for children in Mongolia who are freezing in the winter, those who make up food packages for sunami victims in Indonesia and Sri Lanka. Others who support their Church charities to bring help to third world nations. Hell, I've even sent clothing packages to Fiji for children who can't afford a school uniform (although what the fuck that matters I don't know). Indeed, I am one of these fairweather philanthropists but is my contribution really making a difference?

The conundrum is where to start. There are a zillion organisations, charities, good causes . . . what we need is one . . . it used to be called the United Nations. It used to have the power to embargo, the power to make a difference, the power to intervene but has become a paper tiger. Now there are countries where it's representatives won't venture. Then there's Medicines sans Frontiers . . . even they have no go-zones although the work they do is simply amazing. This isn't a lecture, this is a plea . . .I want to help . . . I want to contribute . . . but beyond just throwing money at corrupt governments I don't have an answer. I don't know how to stop the bleeding, the hurt, the heartache, the abuse, the murder, the brutalisation, the separation, the marginalisation. I often feel guilty for moaning about my own situation, guilty for being happy, healthy, educated and most importantly safe.

My kids call me a snob and on the surface I guess I am. Asians can't drive, Abo's can't dance or sing and Lebos scare me shitless . . . but comedy aside - I want to make a realistic and meaningful contribution. I now have time on my hands and time is free right? I can't afford a big financial contribution but I can do some service. I just don't know where to start . . .It makes me weep. DrummerBoy may have it right . . humans are a virus dedicated to over consumption, slowly killing the planet, not with carbon but by sheer weight of numbers, cruelty to each other and will be the shortest living organism in evolutionary history - it's a self-fulfilling prophecy of destruction and decimatio thanks to the obscene consumerism and materialism of western culture. He's even reviewing whether he would like to have children and he's only 20 years old!

But in the interim . . . if anyone has any ideas of how we can contribute to really help, not just soothe our egos or feel better that we are making a difference, please let me know. I started today with Amnesty International but it means a blind kid won't get a dog this month. !

11 comments:

Ian Poulton said...

Baino,

Be hard-nosed and ask yourself where each dollar is going to make the most difference. Organizations with big headquarters and loads of staff are using up most of your money before a single cent reaches the punters at the sharp end. Organizations which rely on loads of ex-pat staff are wasting money, locals have more knowledge and are generally cheaper. The most bang for buck in an Irish context is with the nuns who go off and run excellent projects in Africa and South America - you know where ever cent has gone. Don't know what it's like in Oz.

Baino said...

Hi Ian . . nice to 'meet' you. Linked through Grandad no doubt. You're right, and I am judicious about the few charities that receive my meagre support. I'm happy to support Amnesty, they meld well with my philosophy but my daughter also has a friend who is in Africa at the moment building houses and water wells for the indigenous population. He's the sort of person I admire, giving up his time to really contribute. And my friend's daughter who has been building OC equipment in Tanzania ... ok it was part of her regional study but she did some real good there and I applaud her for it as she's come home still rallying support for the orphanage. I rarely give to charities who have call centres for that reason. You never know how much of your donation is paying backpacker salaries. Out here, the Salvation Army are pretty 'direct to the people' as are St Vincent de Paul and Care Australia (all Church organisations oddly enough). I saw by your photo that you might have a propensity to support the nuns!

Anonymous said...

Baino,

Protestant nuns are few and far between! I act as secretary of our denomination's world development appeal and even if I don't agree with the Pope, many of his church members do great stuff.

Don't know why the picture appears!

Baino said...

Anonymous - who are you? And what picture? I have to say that anonymous posts annoy me. Speak up, speak out and be counted! A friend of mine noted that it's amazing how many responses I get to sucking hot fluid through chocolate biscuits but when I post seriously . . .the silence is deafening! Except for JD who emailed me directly *bless*

Baino said...

Sorry Ian. Just realised that you're Anonymous. Don't be a stranger now!

Ian Poulton said...

Sorry, Grandad's friend Dick does all my technical stuff for me. I'm not sure why one message came up with a picture and the other didn't. I think the picture dates from when I was on blogger. I haven't figured out how to stop it appearing!

Absolute Vanilla (and Atyllah) said...

Amen, Baino, good, wise and strong words.

I have no idea where we start but I guess by starting with ourselves, those around us and whatever we can do is as good a place as any. A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step, eh.

Baino said...

Ian . . I wouldn't worry aout the pic. It's the sentiment thaat counts. Thank you for contrbiuting

Baino said...

Van . . I'm on the move. Support is coming from tne most unexpected sources.

K8 the Gr8 said...

I've been thinking about this post every day since I read it... I'm just raging that I don't have time to comment properly these days!

I'm planning to think further on the matter while working my squeegie, so...

I'll be back!

Baino said...

Ah Katey Poo! I miss yoooooo! Still I hope TAT's on the mend and you can come back to being one of my regulars. Yep. It's a tough issue alright but I dont think you have to worry too much about contributing in some way. From what I hear, you contribute plenty to your community.

I'm just trying to make up for lost time having worked while my kids were little, it's been difficult to do more. Now that I have time on my hands, I'm ready to chip in. Keep the faith squeedgee gal . .