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One simple way to make people more greedy is to guilt them into generosity. The response is usually defensive. They clutch their wallets closer to their chests, fix a frozen smile to their faces and walk on by. I know, cos I’ve done that before. I’m not proud of that but there you have it.

Collectors that go door-to-door, stand on street corners shaking their semi-empty cans or cold callers have got a tough job. But it just doesn’t seem effective. In our culture it is all too easy to turn a blind eye to the injustices in our world because there seems to be too many. We can’t or don’t want to get our heads around them. It’s all too depressing.

So when a million voices call out in need, the ears of a million others slam shut. I think we need to be smarter about this. As much as we hate to admit it, our culture is greedy. We all know by now that there is actually enough food in the world to feed everyone. But still people die every day from starvation. We know that. But we keep on eating.

Guilt will not end world hunger. Greed will. That’s why Op Shops are so popular at the moment. There’s no pressure to give endlessly to these charities. There are no demands. There are just a few humble shops with odds and ends, 2nd hand clothing and collectables that give us a shopping experience without the guilt. Op shops tap into our desire for more. They are a great place of recycling, of course, but their main task is to fund a charity and they do it in a subtle way so that most of us don’t have to think about the horrible situations those in need are facing and how our measly dollars are helping them.

Massive fundraisers are also hip! Because people get a good feed, they get to hear from interesting people and they get to feel like they’re doing something good for the world. Tick that box. There are also awesome prizes that once again tap into our greedy nature. It’s just fact! I’m not putting down fundraisers or op shops, quite the opposite. I think they’re smart.

The fact is that most of us love to get! I love to get. I would go so far as to say it is my love language. But I look around Sydney and I see so much wealth and gluttony and stuff. And I wonder how I can get people to donate charities in Africa who are suffering, who can’t even put food on the table for their kids. I wonder how we can squeeze stuff out of our ‘stuffed’ city and dribble it into the hands of those who need it way more than we do.

And it all comes down to greed. How do we tap into greed and subtly turn it into generosity without having to lay a guilt trip, without begging, without disturbing?

Any ideas?

Here’s one     http://ourneighbours.org/

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Let’s face it, we all know the rich are getting richer and the poor, poorer. Have we finally had enough? With ‘Occupy’ marches happening around the globe, perhaps we have.

In Australia these protests were relatively small. Then our national carrier, Qantas, cancelled all flights because of industrial action but the boss enjoyed a pay rise. Fat cats be warned, us mice (hopefully) won’t stand for this kind of inequality any more.

Dream with me here: imagine a tax system that charges 10% of a ridiculously rich person’s salary and all of it goes to worthy charities. Would they miss it? Stealing from the rich and giving to the poor is a popular concept because it seems fair.

Instead of buying a large boat, maybe we could cancel out world hunger, or provide mosquito nets in places ravaged by Malaria or Dengue Fever. Oooo how about everyone having access to clean water or a healthy sewerage system? Wouldn’t it be just dandy if all children could be vaccinated against deadly diseases instead of just our lucky kids? Or if women could experience safety in childbirth? Perspective Westies!

Think of what we could do in Australia. There would be no one living on the streets, for there would be enough shelters, homes and public housing for everyone. Our Indigenous brothers and sisters would have a decent chance at a long and successful life with proper healthcare and a more sensitive education system. Universities would be free and available to anyone who was keen and our hospitals and schools wouldn’t be in such a mess.

I know, I know, I’m dreaming here. Perfection is unattainable in this world. It just seems crazy that 1% have so very much while the rest of the world suffers. Food for thought.

If you want to steal from yourself and give to the poor, check out my friend in Zimbabwe who runs a home for abandoned babies. It is called ‘Our Neighbours – Isaiah’s Home of Love’. If you have any corporate connections, this charity is desperate for ongoing support. They find foster homes for these beautiful babies in their own villages. They are doing incredible things with very little.

Check them out here http://ourneighbours.wordpress.com/author/ourneighbours/

 

 

 

I love animals. I hate animal cruelty. Just had to say that. I think puppies are adorable and I want 5. Kittens can crawl all over me all they want and horses, feel free to snort on me any day of the week. But then there are babies. Kiddies, children, tots, toddlers, munchkins, mini-me’s, rug-rats, juniors, snuggle-bugs: soft, sweet, pure little humans with stinky breath! And I love them more.

If I had to choose between an animal and a little munchkin, I would choose the latter every time. It’s not to say that we shouldn’t look out for animals, too, it’s just that they should come after children in our list of priorities (you have one, right?). Though it is in our interests to save the animals so that the food chain can keep us going, I do worry about how much time and money and energy is put into saving animals before we have properly addressed the childhood mortality rates in 3rd world countries.

The other day I saw a bumper sticker that said “Give to the Paw” and had a picture of a sad looking dog with big brown eyes staring up at me. I was slightly horrified. A little offended that the ‘poor’ should be replaced with ‘paw’. I then realised that this was for Assistance Dogs Australia and not some animal shelter. It lessened the blow a little but still, the feeling remained. The fact is that many people prefer to give to animal charities because the sad little creatures are so darn cute.

Are we simply too accustomed to looking at ourselves in the mirror that it numbs us when we look at human suffering? Is it all too much, too confronting? Perhaps images of dying animals doesn’t hit home to the depths of our souls as much as the human kind. Is it more of a surface feeling and easier to deal with?

The statistics on suffering children (let alone adults) in our world never ceases to shock me. Here are the latest human facts according to UNICEF:

  • For every 1000 children, 93 die before the age of 5
  • 21 children die every minute from preventable causes
  • Of 11 million child deaths, 70% are caused by either: diarrhoea, malaria, neonatal infection, pneumonia, preterm delivery, or lack of oxygen at birth.
  • 6 million of that 11 million could have been saved by low tech, low cost measures such as childhood vaccinations, antibiotics, micronutrient supplement , insecticide-treated bed nets, family education
  • By the end of this decade, the number effected by HIV/AIDS will reach 25 million children.
It’s heavy stuff. It’s happening right now and it’s wrong. I have 2 kids and the thought of losing them is unbearable. Imagine how a third world parent feels when they know their child could have been saved by an injection or a series of simple antibiotics. It’s inconceivable.
I think it is good and right to look after this world, save the whales and the bears and keep it clean and beautiful. But I do worry that we spend way too much time on the environment and animals and not half as much on the people. What’s your opinion?
If you’re keen to help out a little with this problem check out a friend of mine who has set up an abandoned babies home in Zimbabwe. It is an incredible cause with so much need. Just go to

Once you know, it’s hard to forget. Which is why so many of us simply don’t want to know. We cannot bear the thought of children dying of preventable diseases, yet it happens whether we know or not.

I have never been to Africa. I am a little scared to go because I know if I did, I would be changed forever. The closest I’ve come to seeing true poverty was in Egypt and Hong Kong. But I know that’s nothing baby. Once you are truly exposed to human suffering there’s a part of you that screams out for justice. That is, if you have a heart and a beat.

I was watching a music video clip with my young daughter yesterday about telling the world about the forgotten (see below). Tears steamed down my face and I sobbed. It’s at these moments that the reality of suffering in our world hits you in the heart and it beats. The sadness of injustice and a huge feeling of helplessness engulfed me. What could I do? What do I have to offer the world? I am no healer or teacher. I have words but who would listen?

I live in an area overflowing with money. It’s quite ridiculous. We have a friend coming here who runs an abandoned babies home in Zimbabwe and I just want to squeeze my locals, catch the extra millions they have lying around and pour it into this Zimbabwe program. I want babies placed in loving homes and children educated and loved and well. I want justice for that land. I want the world not to forget them. I want my world not to forget them.

Apathy is born out of deliberate blindness. I have been comfortable in my ignorance. My heart would burst with grief if I really knew what happened in those places. But we must know. We must be brave and open our eyes to the evil and injustices that are infused in our world. This is OUR world. Not just our street, our town, country but we are a part of the community of the world. And so we are all responsible to use our talents, time and money to bring justice and open the eyes of those around us. Not with judgement and preaching but quite simply, truth!

Check out the Zimbabwe Project I was telling you about. It is incredible.

http://ourneighbours.wordpress.com/our-neighbours/

Kids cannot understand where all the money goes. They don’t get why African people are sick and have no money for food. They just can’t understand why poor kids have no toys and why some people live on the streets.

Image by Eric Pouhier

That was one of the questions my five year old raised with me:

“Why do people sleep on the ground in Australia? Did the boss of Australia take away their money?” Geesh, how to explain the complexities of this greedy world.

One of our good friends works with abandoned babies and the homeless in Zimbabwe. In a way, that situation is a little easier to explain to kids as the boss of Zimbabwe is corrupt and greedy. But when it’s on your doorstep and our government isn’t blatantly corrupt or evil, how do we describe accurately why people have to live on our streets? I don’t even understand it.

How simple are the eyes and minds of our kids? If only life were that simple. People need food. People grow food, so they should eat food. People need love, acceptance, a roof over their head and warmth and opportunities. Fullstop. How did we get it so wrong?

My three year old’s suggestion for helping the poor is this, “Tell everyone to give the African people money.” So, here it goes… please give the African people money. Or time or skills or prayers or exposure. Why is it so easy for us to sweep these problems under our expensive rugs? It’s not so difficult afterall. Just ask my daughter.

For an awesome opportunity to give money to the poor, you know where to go, what to do. But let me again plug our friends in Zimbabwe, who struggle everyday just with the basics. Go to http://www.pittwaterchurch.org/missions.php and click on the link at the bottom of the page and it will give you the info you need to make a difference in Zimbabwe. And please tell your friends!

Or if you want to extend yourself and help more of the poor of this world why not volunteer some time and skills at Crossroads (crossroads.org.hk). Don’t be overwhelmed, be empowered to make a change and bring justice back to our world.

Image by Jasonwu1987

Hair cut, coloured, latest style = $50-$500 +/ visit

Bikini waxes = $25-$50(?) / visit

Skin care = $20- $300/ purchase

Hair products = $5- $100/ product

Shoes = $10-$200+ / pair

Clothes = $10-$1oo+ / item

Nails = $2-$30 / product

Underwear = $2-$20+/item

Jewelry = $2-$100+ / item

Make up = $10-$50+/item

Exercise = $10-$40/class

Swimmers = $40-$100+ / suit

These items make up an average woman’s costing for presenting a culturally appropriate image to the world. SO MUCH MONEY PEOPLE! When you add it up, it is a little humbling. I have just included the basics here.

This is not a rant about silly women spending silly money on silly things but a bit of a wake up call. Living in an image conscious, wealthy area, this is what I see everyday. I also have a friend in Zimbabwe who struggles everyday to keep an abandoned babies home going and food on his own table.

When you have two completely different worlds to compare, you see how crazy it is to spend money on cosmetics and ripping hairs out of the nether regions. Money that could go towards giving little babies food, family and the simple presence of some one to cuddle them. It’s not a guilt thing but a sobering thought for the day. I just think that we get so caught up in our culture that we don’t stop to question whether it is right? Or where our money could be used for good, even if we don’t see the results in front of our face, or on our face.

It is a rainy, pondery day in the big smoke. A day to consider. If you have the vibe, the desire to give some money to a truly beautiful project, the details of my friend’s abandoned babies home in Zimbabwe are:

http://www.pittwaterchurch.org/missions.php

http://www.isaiahshomeoflove.org

Money makes a difference

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