Helping Tacloban

tacloban[image source: personal image, Tacloban, Philippines, taken November 2011]

By now you’re most likely aware of the situation in the Philippines. This nation was devastated by Typhoon Haiyan and has been declared a “state of calamity” by President Acquino with millions affected.

In 2011 I travelled to Tacloban, Philippines on two mission trips with my local church, Enjoy Church - I wrote all about it on my previous blog here; those trips changed my life, because of the people there. Tacloban experienced the main impact of the typhoon and will never be the same.

// The hotel in the video is where we stayed on both trips. Here are some incredible before and after satellite images of Tacloban.

The situation is dire with the need for basic necessities like food, water, medicine and shelter. Being Facebook friends with and still talking to many of those I met in Tacloban and surrounding provinces, the posts filling my  newsfeed include remarkable stories of survival, seeking help, attempts to find family, and updated lists of survivors.

They need prayer and practical resource. I’ll be joining with my local church when it comes to donating and helping those we’re already in direct partnership with.

However, if you’d like to help in some way, please see: World Vision.

Important note in regards to the blog posts written from my time there: from what I’ve been told, am aware of and have seen on my personal Facebook feed, those written about in the posts are all safe. Thank goodness.

New Thankyou Campaign Could Literally Change The World

Last week Thankyou launched their new campaign — see the video above.

What is Thankyou? Thankyou is an Australian start-up social entrerprise. Founded in 2008 they’ve been selling bottled water with every bottle sold helping to provide water for people in need around the world (think of charity:water etc but Aussie grown and founded by late teens at the time). 

And now, everything changes as they’ve embarked on a whole new adventure: food and body products too.

product-group

Welcome to a consumer movement that empowers you to fund life-changing projects through simple choices in your everyday life.

1.4 billion people in our world live in extreme poverty. Meanwhile Australians spend hundreds of millions of dollars every year on bottled water, food, soap and other consumer goods. What if purchasing these everyday products could provide life-changing solutions to people in need?

This is why we exist.

[source: Thankyou website]

I love this.

They’ve seen the “big problem” and are tackling it one step at a time.

The main crux of this new campaign is to have Coles and Woolworth’s supermarkets stock their products (for non-Australians, they’re two of the major grocery outlets here). This would be a major win if they get in there. And I for one would definitely be buying their products.

More than the brilliant storytelling in the video, Thankyou are making a difference in the world. They’ve dreamt big from the beginning, started “small”, and are now taking a risk to see the next part of their dream become a reality so that even more people can be impacted for the better.

It’s true what Daniel Flynn (co-founder) says near the end of the video:

“Now I know what you’re thinking, ‘What if this campaign doesn’t work?’ But can I ask you to think about another question? ‘What if it does?’ Because the answer to that, as we go from just helping 50,000 people to soon hundreds of thousands, and then millions of people getting access to not just water, but to food, short-term and long-term health hygiene programs. It’s a range that could literally change the world…”

Check them out at thankyou.co. Love what they’re doing? Show your support and spread the word.

“Live Everyday. Give Everyday.”

27 Million Too Many Slaves

[source]

Through the week I was streaming the Passion 2013 conference sessions. Passion is an annual conference in Atlanta, USA that had a massive 60,000 18-25 year olds in attendance this year. One of their main focuses is justice + Gary Haugen, founder + CEO of International Justice Mission (IJM), was a key speaker.

For year I have known there are 27 million slaves around the globe. In the midst of 7 billion people living on the earth, that number can seem massive on it’s own, yet a drop in the ocean in the scheme of things.

But this time, upon hearing Gary talk about the injustice + his experiences whilst working with IJM, I thought about it in a different light…

Australia’s current population of around 22.6 million people + New Zealand’s population of approximately 4.4 million = 27 million.

That’s two entire countries living in slavery… and that’s a lot of people with each number representing an individual who needs help.

I’m not entirely sure yet what my role is to play in it – whether it be volunteering, contributing financially, spreading awareness via writing, etc – but I do know that I can’t sit by + do nothing.

[source]

There’s this whole ‘Be The Change’ movement, which I truly love. But if we get caught up on ‘being the change’, we can lose sight of the fact that more than simply being empowered + free to do something, it’s actually our right to do it. It’s not so much about you being free as it is about you being an instrument in bringing freedom, serving justice + giving each individual the opportunity + choice to live the colourful life they were created for.

You being free isn’t for freedom’s sake, but for the sake of others.

Once you’ve tasted + experienced true freedom, you can’t help but fight for the freedom of other’s.

Some organisations doing outstanding work in the field + whom I greatly admire are:-

International Justice Mission | A21 Campaign | Somaly Mam Foundation | Love 146 | Not For Sale Campaign | End It Movement | Invisible Children | Restore International | Light Gives Heat

Check them out. Learn more about the issue. Be informed. Spread the word. Play a part.

 “We can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone.” Ronald Reagan

Kony 2012: Changing Stories

Invisible Children uses film, creativity and social action to end the use of child soldiers in Joseph Kony’s rebel war + restore LRA-affected communities in east + central Africa to peace + prosperity. (via InvisibleChildren.com)

Kony. By now we’ve all heard the name, the aim, + the controversy. It’s something that I’ve had to tame my fingers not to type about, but in the lead up to Cover The Night, I think it’s time.

MY PERSONAL STORY

Back in 2007 I saw the first Invisible Children (IC) film in a stadium with 17,000 women for Colour Conference .

Being in that environment + watching the film was one of the most profound moments of my life.

My eyes were opened to a terrible injustice.

My heart was awakened to real compassion.

My love for humanity + justice deepened.

And had I not seen that film, I wouldn’t have pursued journalism + writing.

Since then I’ve tracked IC closely. In early 2011 I applied to intern with them + successfully passed through several interview stages (including a 5am Skype Interview call, scariest interview of my life!). Throughout this process my love + appreciation grew as I was given a glimpse into their behind-the-scenes.

5 YEARS ON + KONY 2012

The controversy + criticisms that have come with Kony 2012 have saddened me, especially those from Christians + non-profit organisations who are advocating for justice.

Kony is a dark force on this earth. He’s ruined generations, the land, + caused incredible emotional, mental, spiritual, + physical destruction. The world needs more light, so if anyone is fighting to see light become greater than the darkness… I support them, wholeheartedly.

Note: Joseph Kony did not die 5-years ago as some are saying. If he was, I’m sure Wikipedia would update his bio. Also, IC never said they were going to kill him; they said they want him captured so he can be trialed for his crimes like any other warlord.  And they never asked for your money; they wanted you to spread the message + bring awareness. 

WHY I STILL SUPPORT INVISIBLE CHILDREN

The media’s encouragement + slandering of Kony 2012 hasn’t tainted my opinion of them in the slightest. How they stepped up to cater to the positive media attention they received, dealt with the PR, + even made a second film in response is to be respected.

If IC helped rescue or prevented 1 child from becoming a child soldier, being raped or mutilated… I’d support them. But they’ve done much more than that by creating a number of programs such as Community Protection which warns communities of pending LRA violence.

IC is doing a courageous thing. And they’ve been doing it for 6+ years. They haven’t changed.

This is a quote from an interview Jason Russell did in 2007 about their first film. He said:

“For us the journey is the destination, where it ends up. Who knows the power of potential that this can create. We are excited about telling the stories of invisible children around the world. Our responsibility is telling their stories well and to the best of our abilities.”

And their journey through story-telling has moved them to actively pursuing the creator of these horrendous stories.

COVER THE NIGHT

So, you might be wondering… am I participating in Cover The Night? My answer is: No. For the simple reason that this is something specifically for America. I’m not going to put posters up to show support, but my speech + words are.

If you’re wanting to go out + Cover The Night… do it. Never stop yourself from acting on an issue of injustice that moved you. And when your children ask about Kony + what were child soldiers, you can say that when you were awakened to their captivity, you did something to bring them freedom.

If you’re not… please don’t criticise the ones bringing goodness. Sometimes we forget that words are just as powerful + wounding as actions (that is how Russell broke, isn’t it? From the snowball of criticisms… + then he was criticised some more).

In our current society, think about the issue like this: You find out that someone is raping + abusing women, + the authorities or an organisation is trying to locate the person. But instead of you helping these people + organisation find them, you criticise their every move. To the victim, your criticisms about those fighting for their freedom is that they’re not worth fighting for.

And so it is with IC. Criticising IC is simply telling a child soldier that you knew about their oppression + decided that their freedom wasn’t worth fighting for.

To end I’d like to leave you with this excerpt from a blog post by Jen Hatmaker. It’s incredible.

“When it is all said and done, when my grandchildren read about Joseph Kony and eleven-year-old sex slaves in Haiti and children sleeping on the streets in Ethiopia and foster kids in their fifteen home, and they say, “What did you do about all these tragedies?”

I am not going to say, “Well, I didn’t want to be labeled a white supremacist, so I wrote mean blogs about folks who threw their hat in the ring.”

I am not going to say, “It was complicated. So I didn’t do anything.”

I am not going to say, “People were extremely critical back then. It was PR suicide to engage difficult issues. I remained troubled but silent on the sidelines. I cared in my mind.”

I am not going to say, “I researched and debated and read a lot of books and articles. I was very, very informed. Believe me, I understood the issues. I waxed very poetic about it all.”

I hope to say, “I joined the fight, because justice denied anywhere means justice denied everywhere. I jumped in, imperfectly, even though I knew critics would come out of the woodwork, questioning my motives and methods and ignorance and intentions. I decided to use my voice and my resources, because that could be my daughter and my sister and my community. That mother is me. Those children are you. I didn’t get it perfectly right. I couldn’t address it all. I couldn’t even address the entire scope of one problem. I didn’t change the whole world. But I moved.

Jen Hatmaker, ‘Kony Critics + Throwing Rocks