Mar(k): Travel, Hiking, and "Doing Good"

musings on our life of travel and volunteering

Archive for the ‘Human Rights’ Category

Getting into Ethical Altruism

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With the EOFY rapidly approaching (that’s “End of Financial Year”, for those not into silly acronyms!), it is also a time when many people (in Australia, at least), look at making donations to charities they want to support with much needed (and appreciated!) funds.  For the last few years, we have embraced a concept which is known as “Ethical Altruism”.  This is a term coined by ethicist, philanthropist, animal rights activist, and other “ists”, Peter Singer.

Essentially, it is about making sure that the hard-earned money you donate does as much “good” as possible.  For simplicity, let’s just say this is all about helping the MOST people, who are in the MOST need.  Not a tough concept, and one that we subscribe to.

why not cartoon for giving

To help you along, there is a very cool online calculator which can assist you in determining how MUCH you should give (well, it’s a guideline, anyhow).   Don’t freak out – it’s not like some religious tithing system of 10%.   It works out to about 1 or 2 % of your gross income generally, depending on how much you earn.   Obviously, the more you earn, the greater “good” you are capable of doing, so the percentage goes up accordingly.   Seems fair to us!   Have a play with the calculator here.

Like many others, we want to know that the money we are donating is doing the “most good”.  So one tool that we found super helpful was this research / analysis on a number of different charities.   Saved us having to do the research!  (spoiler alert:  the Give Well website ranks the Against Malaria Foundation as one of the best (and it is tax deductible in Australia).   But there are many other wonderful organisations here, as well.  One consideration for us was to find charities that were Australian based, and many of the ones researched are based in America.   However, there is a handy link to the Effective Altruism Australia site, where you can make your Aussie donation tax deductible, and ear mark it against the approved charity of your choice.   What could be easier?  (you’re welcome!)

How do you make your donations each year?  What sort of criteria do you use?  Let us know in the comments section – would love to hear from you!

Happy giving.

Written by Mar(k)

June 20, 2016 at 4:00 pm

The season of giving – and some thoughts about the NFP sector “being more like business”

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It is that time of year when people often are looking for gifts for that “hard to buy for” person in their life.  We are big advocates of buying “experiences”, rather than “things”.  In a similar vein, making donations to charities is also a great way of giving back – and you can make donations in someone else’s name, as a gift to them!   With so many wonderful causes out there, it is hard to know where to donate.  But one way (assuming you are giving a donation as a “gift” for someone on your Christmas List), is to think about what they love to do, and match your donation to a charity that works in that area.

  • Does the person love music?   How about your local orchestra, opera company or young musicians group?  (Hint:  We love WAYJO – the WA Youth Jazz Orchestra)
  • Does the person love the great outdoors?   How about a local bushwalking group?  or a “friends of…. (pick a park, wilderness area, or nature reserve) (Hint:  We love the Bibbulmun Track Foundation
  • Is the person a passionate surfer or love the beach?  What about a donation to Surf Lifesavers, or Sea Shepherd?
  • You get the idea.   The sky is the limit!   (Hint:  We love the Royal Flying Doctor Service – ha ha ha)

Whatever you do, your donation is always greatly appreciated by not-for-profit groups (and if nothing jumps out at you – there is the always popular Oxfam Unwrapped option).

And for some food for thought, because we know some of our readers are also philanthropists in the corporate sector (who give much needed funding to NFPs), Why the NFP sector should (or should NOT be) “more like business”.   Always interested in reading what people think about this area, and it may provide good food for thought as you think about your corporate donations into the next calendar year.  Would love to know what you think.

Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas!  We will catch you in 2016.

Written by Mar(k)

December 21, 2015 at 2:44 pm

How being “scared of the Boogey Man” influences government policy. NOT a good thing.

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Remember how when we were young, the lights were out at bedtime, and there was always that fear of “what lurks under the bed?” Is it the Boogey Man? As we all (now) know, there IS no Boogey Man. But that fear of the unknown was very palpable, and can feel very REAL. This type of thinking seems to be informing public policy in Australia, which is really tragic. The ongoing debate about “turning back the boats” seems to smack of being scared of what (or who) we don’t know. We fear “Others”. We fear “the Unknown”. boogey man

Until these people who are fleeing persecution have a FACE, a NAME, and a STORY, we cannot seem to identify with them as fellow human beings. People who are worthy, and deserving, of our support.

This situation is something that we face everyday, as volunteers with CARAD. Both of us are doing advocacy work with detainees at the Yongah Hill Detention Centre. Recently, Yongah Hill got into the press again, as there was another death in custody on 31 July 2015. You can read about the tragic story of Mohammad Nasim Najari here.

Our current government policy makes it legal for asylum seekers to face the prospect of indefinite detention. The mental anguish that this causes has been well documented, and is such a heartless outcome for people who deserve better.

It may be easy for the politicians and bureaucrats to legislate and decide people’s futures on paper. But having to deliver the news to detainees that there are no further avenues of appeal open to them rests with someone. This week I was faced with the depressing prospect of telling a detainee at Yongah Hill that indefinite detention is his only option. That was not an easy conversation to have. And it makes us mad that it needs to be had at all.

The only way for this to change is for the public to speak up about this matter. Tell the government that is NOT okay to try and vilify asylum seekers.  Asylum Seekers are NOT the Boogey Man, and they are NOT going to hurt us. They deserve our support. It is what being a decent human being is all about.  Read more here.

We leave you with these thoughts as we head off on a trip of our own. We will be away for a few months, so you won’t hear from us on the blog for the next little while. We look forward to re-engaging with you on our return in November!

Celebrating Leadership in Social Accountability

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When we were volunteers in Ghana, we had the great pleasure and privilege to work with some amazing people.  One of those people was Ibrahim Tanko Amidu, or “Tanko”, as everyone calls him.  At the time, he was the Country Manager for VSO in Ghana.  We had various conversations with Tanko during the time that we were in our placements, including towards the end of our time in Ghana, at a Volunteers Conference (which is where this photo was taken, August 2010).

Tanko (second from left) celebrating a "significant" birthday with VSO colleagues and volunteers (August 2010)

Tanko (second from left) celebrating a “significant” birthday with VSO colleagues and volunteers (August 2010)

Right from our first meeting, Tanko always impressed us with his open door policy, his inclusive leadership style, and his utter commitment to work in the development sector.   So it was with much happiness that we recently found out that Tanko has been awarded the prestigious Leadership award in Social Accountability from the Global Partnership for Social Accountability – for the Africa region.  You can hear Tanko talk about what leadership means to him in this short video.

We are happy to celebrate this kind of success!   The world is a better place when people like Tanko are working hard for others.   Well done, Tanko!

 

The Spirit of Generosity – alive and well!

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Hello everyone!  I am just so thrilled to share a good news story with you all, to kick off 2015.  I am entering into my second year of minimalism, which is an ongoing, dedicated journey.   To simplify my life, and allow space for the things that really matter, slowly but surely, I am getting rid of clutter, and re-homing things where possible.  One way that I do that, is through the use of ‘The Freecycle Network”.   As their home page states:

“The Freecycle Network™ is made up of 5,194 groups with 8,555,524 members around the world. It’s a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (and getting) stuff for free in their own towns. It’s all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills. Each local group is moderated by local volunteers (them’s good people). Membership is free.”

I love it.   I have used it to both get things I need (uncommonly), as well as re-distribute things to others (commonly).  Today was such a day.  I had posted a number of items that I was getting rid of on their Facebook Page.  In very short order, I had a number of people interested in everything I had.  Great.  Then hubby came into the room, and asked if I could somehow use Freecycle to help out an asylum seeker who had recently been released from a detention centre, into the community.  This man has nothing, and one of his most pressing needs was to find a single bed to sleep on.  So I posted my request on the Facebook Freecycle Page, outlining pretty much what I have just said in this paragraph.  The response just made me so happy!   People who weren’t able to assist were “liking” my post.   And within 15 minutes, I had two offers of a bed for him, plus a kind soul who also offered a wardrobe and bedside table!   What amazingly generous people are out there!   And isn’t it great to be able to use the internet to help others!?  (NB:  Since then, there have been additional offers of beds and other goods.  Wow.)

This mattress has come to represent much more to me than just a place to rest your head at the end of the day

This mattress has come to represent much more to me than just a place to rest your head at the end of the day

Hubby had some concerns about me putting my request out there so “blatantly”  (read: honestly) as it was for an asylum seeker.   In Australia right now, the whole refugee and asylum seeker issue is such a hot topic, and has polarised many people in the community.  But I was so heartened that what I experienced was genuine concern for others, and particularly the most vulnerable people in our society.  People who have nothing, and are traumatised.   So I just had to share this good news story with you all!    Happy New Year, and may 2015 be a marvelous year for everyone.  And if you feel like you are in a position to somehow help asylum seekers and detainees in Perth, you can check out what CARAD does here.