Friday, July 29, 2011

Day 661

I was stopped on Wednesday at the local shopping centre to sign up for a monthly donation for cancer.  I had to decline. Not because I couldn't afford it (I could if I tried hard enough) nor because I was being anti-community, but because we have hit our agreed donations for the year.  We have a lot of charities on our list. We do one a month in addition to sponsoring a child in Ethiopia.  I felt bad that I couldn't sign up for this particular cancer one, but there is a point where you have to say "no".  Plus there is also a point where your "in kind" support can be just as worthwhile as the financial, perhaps even more so.  Holding a person's hand, being at the other end of a phone, driving them to chemo, looking after their children. That can all be added to the contribution quadrant of life.  Perhaps some charities are cash contributions and others are personal hands-on contributions. It's the latter I want to talk about today.

Many people find it easy to hand over money, but how many of us are actually willing to step up and physically get involved in making changes to our world?  A year or two ago a questionnaire came home from Tahlia's calisthenics club asking about costumes.  It asked if we'd prefer to sequin our own costumes or pay to get it done. I ticked the "pay to get it done" box.  The idea of spending what little free time I had sequinning was not the slightest bit appealing.  I lost that round as most parents ticked the "sequin our own" box. Shit. Really?  So I've been sequinning now for a few years and although it's not my purpose in life, I'm doing it as a member of the club and contributing to the kids sport in the process.

My parents are charitable people.  I have no idea how many charities they contribute to each year financially, but I would imagine there'd be a few.  I was brought up with the contribution mind-set.  I think many of us are.  But it still astounds me that my folks are not only willing to contribute money to good causes within Australia and overseas, not only are they willing to physically donate their time and energy to volunteer work around their local area, not only are they ignoring their aging bones and muscles, but today they are flying to a remote island up on the equator to spend three weeks putting in a watering system for a community who has yet does not have running water.  It kinda puts my sequinning to shame.

Last year they went to the Solomon Islands and built a cyclone proof community centre for one little village, which was their first foray into this type of volunteer work.  They spent three weeks, every ounce of energy, lost about 8 kgs each, ate like birds, sweated their arses off, got callouses and blisters in order to provide a safe haven against natural disasters for people who live in huts made of twigs and grass.  When I have sequinned a costume it looks prettier and fancier than anything I could have paid for.  So you can imagine what building a cyclone proof community centre must feel like. They came home with more happiness, fulfillment and sense of self than you'd ever think possible. They were proud and they were humbled. So much so that today they're off to do it all again ...

So as I sit here typing this I await the arrival of my folks as they come to us for a lift to the airport.  For the next three weeks they will be sweating it out on Manus Island (Papua New Guinea) digging, putting in pipes, filtering and creating something that will enhance the health, wealth and well-being of many, while I go about my days turning on the tap with ease and watching little girls dance around a stage in shiny costumes.

It kinda makes you wonder what more you could be doing, don't you think?

3 comments :

  1. What amazing parents you have. When my kids are older I really hope to be able to travel and do some very worhtwhile stuff. My hubbie was out in India earlier this year at a community that our church supports and he gave so much but came away with a thousand times more.

    Mich x

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  2. How lovely of your parents. It must be so great for them to see what a tangible difference their actions make.

    I'm in the paying people to sew sequins on camp, too. Thankfully I haven't actually had to do much as most of Girls dance costumes have arrived done.

    Thanks for a great, thought provoking post. Hope you are recovering from the NP.

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  3. Your parents are pretty darn special!

    I would love to help better a community overseas, but I'm too scared. Maybe more of a reason to do it? I do help my local community in many ways and that fulfills me. But I think I could be doing more. I agree that we get back so much in return.

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