When I see images of starving children, war and poverty I feel overwhelmed. I know that as the saying goes “everyone can make a difference”, but I get so caught up on the magnitude of it all. I give money when I can to various charities and when money’s tight I donate my time whether that be through volunteering, mentoring or simply sharing call outs for action on Twitter or my blog.
Yesterday I spent the day in Melbourne at World Vision Australia‘s headquarters. The day was designed to reach out to bloggers and explore ways we could work together in partnership for change. As I sat there I felt guilt for not sponsoring a child. I felt guilty for not doing enough. So many people devote their lives to helping others. Once again the enormity of the world’s challenges weighed heavily on me. And I realised I’m simply not doing enough.
Then something clicked. It’s not just what you do, it’s the intent behind what you do. If you can only afford to make small changes, it’s ok. Every little change helps. From little things, big things grow.
Here’s 5 ways you can help change lives:
1 – Buy Fair Trade coffee.
Or if coffee’s not your thing, buy Fair Trade chocolate or ethically sourced cotton or buy local. Voting with your dollars does marvellous things where big business is concerned. This doesn’t mean that everything you put in your shopping trolley must now be ethically sourced. That’s not possible. It can be expensive and for many people living in certain parts of Australia it’s simply not an option. But maybe you could just start with one thing? From this week, I’m starting with coffee. Check out the fact sheets here for more information. Or check out Fair Trade Australia’s website.
2 – Write letters.
Make your voice be heard. If you decide you are no longer going to drink coffee that isn’t Fair Trade, but your local coffee shop doesn’t stock it, why not write them an email or chat to the manager about it? If you’re unhappy with the Federal Government’s stance on refugees then let them know. Perhaps your kid’s school uniforms are sourced from companies that support child labour through its own practises or through its supply chain. You don’t have to be championing every cause – it’s simply not possible, but you have no idea what impact your words might have. Big changes are made up of a lot of little ones. Everyone has a role to play.
3 – Immunise a child.
This is one cool gift option you can choose from and it’s only $25. That’s one child who could be saved from contracting a life threatening disease. If it’s the only thing you do, it’s a pretty darn good thing. There’s also options to help a woman start a business or contribute to early learning in a remote Australian Aboriginal community. In fact there’s a heap of different choices at many price points. Or if you’d prefer, you could make a donation to Child Rescue which goes towards helping children who’ve been trafficked and exploited or to the South Sudan or Syrian Crises to help feed and house refugees. And if World Vision isn’t your chosen charity, there’s many other options out there.
4 – Read.
Sometimes life gets in the way. You feel like you’re giving so much of yourself just getting through each day. Time and money is tight, but you know you should be doing something, you just don’t know how. So you do nothing. Yesterday, when I sat listening to the World Vision team I realised how little I knew about what was happening in Syria and South Sudan, in particular. If you turn your head from the problems, you’ll never feel passionate. If it’s the environment or refugees or war or education or economic disparity or women or maternal health or child trafficking or enabling kids to play or buying ethically certified cotton that you care about, then do some research. Knowledge is power.
5 – Think outside the square.
Perhaps you could encourage your children to donate a percentage of their pocket money each week to a charity. Or instead of giving teachers at school another box of chocolates at the end of year you could arrange the class to all chip in and “buy a goat” for a family. Instead of wedding favours you could “train a teacher” or “provide clean water for a whole community”. Or maybe you could simply arrange a lunch with friends and instead of going out, make a big soup, grab a cleanskin and donate what you would’ve spent at a restaurant to something you all believe in. It could become an annual event.
Life is for living. Giving makes you feel good. You don’t need a lot of money to make big changes. You don’t even need to make big changes, even small ones can help.
Have you got any ideas of other ways to help empower others?