In the wake of Cyclone Pam devastating Vanuatu, and upon finishing reading A Thousand Splendid Suns for the second time, I am reminded of how lucky I am to live in such a safe and peaceful country.
It is easy to get wrapped up in our day to day existence, which is sometimes difficult to navigate. This year has started off with some rather sad events for me and my family. However, when considering the magnitude of losing your island from a natural disaster, or your country through war, it can provide some perspective.
As someone who has, thankfully, never had to go without any essential basics I cannot imagine how hard it must be to suffer and survive tragedies such as these. My family has always been at hand to ask for help and they have always had enough. Don't get me wrong, there has been some tough times but never so bad that we didn't have a roof over our heads or food to eat.
I studied my senior high school at an Adult College where many refugees were learning to speak English and were finishing their high school studies. Some of the experiences that were shared with me about living for years in refugee camps, fleeing war, and lying about their age to marry all opened my eyes to a very different life experience to mine. They definitely made me feel pretty lucky.
I found A Thousand Splendid Suns to be a book that truly touched my heart and made me feel a connection with the women of Afghanistan. When I finished reading it last year for the first time I was overwhelmed with a desire to do something. The vivid account of the devastating impacts to families from the war and the repression of women horrified and saddened me.
Although I was inspired to do something I had no real idea on what or how to do it. One of my friends recommended CARE Australia to me. She was donating to them and saw that they were involved with educating women in Afghanistan.
After doing quite a lot of research between charities that work in social justice and poverty alleviation I started donating $15 a month to CARE Australia, which I felt was a small but important contribution towards their work rebuilding and educating communities.
When doing my research I looked at the type of projects that each organisation worked on, if it aligned with my interest and concerns, and the breakdown of expenditure to see how much was going to activities like fund raising and administration and how much was going into the projects that help people in need.
I also started to donate $15 a month to the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) since they play an extremely important role in assisting and housing displaced people.
There are so many causes that deserve our attention. I did try to find a charity that would provide support to Indigenous Australians but I, unfortunately, didn't find one that I was comfortable donating to. Not because I doubted the companies but I had some specific ideas in mind and I struggled to find programs that aligned with them.
I believe that my families regular contributions are valuable because it is money that these organisations can rely on in their project planning. It is something small that I can do to feel that I am contributing to initiatives that I hope bring hope and comfort to people that have lost a lot and endure tough times. I hope the organisations I have chosen help them to build a better life for themselves.
When I see disasters like Cyclone Pam I feel good that I am already contributing something towards helping.
Have you also been inspired to support a cause? I'd love to hear about it