Thursday, April 12, 2007

Too many good causes

What triggers us to help a worthwhile cause? How do we choose which cause to help? I often notice that people support a cause because of a personal connection. A sister has breast cancer, so they raise funds for the Cancer Council; their child has an accident, so they support the burns unit of the hospital. Mel Gibson gave $US1mill to his old school, NIDA.

I became interested in the School of St Jude after seeing the TV program ‘Australian Story’ featuring Gemma Sisia. This was an entirely new direction for me. I had never paid much attention to Africa because India has always been the country that caught my imagination. I travelled through India in my early 20s as I went overland Katmandu to London. I enjoy Indian culture, artefacts, music and spiritual writings. And India has been poor enough to call our assistance.

A few years ago, Ross Gittins, economics editor of the Sydney Morning Herald, wrote about the ‘Africanisation’ of poverty. This opened my eyes to the shifting landscape and I became more aware of Africa. Then the Millennium Development Goals were formulated and the picture became clearer for me. So, when I became ready to give in a more substantial way, it was Africa that called me. Clearly the need is greatest there.

I am filled with hope that severe poverty can be eliminated in my lifetime. Before the Industrial Revolution, most people in the world, including today’s developed countries, lived a survival existence of short lifespans, high infant mortality, low literacy, and chronic illness. Only one hundred years ago, the British soldiers who fought WWI were so markedly under-nourished that they were inches shorter than Australians soldiers.

We forget that our developed countries have travelled this same path only very recently. If it was possible for us, it can be possible for Africa. Tanzania is working on better governance and improved infrastructure. The Tanzanian government is pouring all the resources it can get hold of from its own taxes and from aid (official and private) into health, education and infrastructure.

Your assistance of the School of St Jude will help these bright children from the poorest families and also help the country as a whole as it climbs onto the first rung of the ladder to prosperity.

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