Eating yourself a rainbow

http://happyhooligans.ca/homemade-watercolour-paints/
http://happyhooligans.ca/homemade-watercolour-paints/

My daughter is really into rainbows – like really into them. She draws rainbows everywhere. With chalk on walls. With paint on canvases. With pencils on paper.

I always try to feed my children healthy snacks and what better time to do that then the start of summer. Well to be honest, the last month has felt like summer. Spring has totally been skipped in Sydney which is very alarming to me. But back to the rainbows. On Saturday, I decided to make a rainbow fruit platter.

Apart from being pretty and very appealing to a rainbow obsessed little girl, there is in fact a lot of science behind this theory. Fruit and vegetables come in different colours and these colours are caused by phytochemicals.   Each different colour has a set of antioxidants which helps your body in different ways:

Red

Examples: Tomato, Red capsicum, Radishes, Strawberries, Rhubarb, Cherries, Red grapes, Raspberries, Watermelon and Red apples.

Benefits: red fruit and vegetables have lycopene. This is a powerful antioxidant which reduces the risk of some cancers and protects the heart.

Blue/ Purple

Examples: Beetroot, Red cabbage, Eggplant, Blackberries, Blueberries, Purple grapes and plums

Benefits: Blue and purple foods get their colour from anthocyanin.  The darker the colour towards blue, the higher the level of phytochemical. Blueberries for example are considered a ‘superfood’ and have the highest antioxidant activity of any food. The blue and purple foods are considered to help keep your blood pressure in check.
Green
Examples: Spinach, Asparagus, Avocados, Broccoli, Peas, Green apples, Green grapes, Limes, Kiwifruit, Green beans, Lettuce,Cabbage,Celery, Cucumber and Green capsicum
Benefits: Green foods include a whole range of goodies, like chlorophyll, cartenoids, indoles and saponins. They have cancer fighting properties also.
Orange/ Yellow
Examples: Carrots, Rockmelon, Lemons, Sweet potato, Pumpkin, Pineapples, Mangoes, Corn, Oranges, Squash, Peaches, Nectarines, Apricots and Grapefruit
Benefits: These coloured fruit and vegetables have cartenoids, especially betacartenoids.  They have anti-inflammatory qualities and are great for your eyes and skin and helps your muscles after exercise.
White/ colourless/ brown
Examples: Cauliflower, Brown pears, Mushrooms, White peaches, Garlic, Bananas, Potatoes, Dates, Onions, Ginger, Parsnips and Turnip
Benefits: These foods contain a phytochemical called alicin (found in garlic) which have anti-viral and antibacterial properties. These foods also support healthy bones and reduces the risk of osteoporosis and reduces blood cholesterol levels.

Many schools these days have ‘crunch and sip’ where children take in fresh fruit or vegetables to have during class time with water.  This, along with lunches and recesses provide great opportunities to include a ‘rainbow’ in lunchboxes for children.  There is a great website which makes this fun with lots of ideas for parents and teachers.

rainbow fruit

Fun activities with children on World Environment Day

Today, June 5 is World Environment Day.  The day almost caught me by surprise. The weather has definitely turned chilly in Sydney over the last week. While chilly in the morning, it is beautifully clear and somewhat warm in the day. So on this day I’m trying to think of some fun things I can do with my children to give thanks to our planet and acknowledge all that it gives us.

Here are some ideas:

Get out! There is a small bush track which is very do-able for children near me, so I plan on taking a little bushwalk with my daughters. Along the way I’ll point out trees, flowers, teach them to be silent and hear the sounds of the creek and leaves under their feet. If you don’t have bush near you, maybe just look out at the sky, look at the clouds and any birds or trees that may be present.

March 13 299

Plant a tree.  There is an initiative this World Environment Day called ‘Do Something!’ where it is encouraging people to ‘plant one tree per child’. I might not plant a tree per child (I have three!), but I will plant one today and will do it with my children.

July 2012 047

Grow some food. Not many children have exposure to growing food. If you have a garden, then great get some seeds and get planting. If not, then get some herbs in a pot and get them to help you maintain it and pick leaves to add to salads. Get them to feel the leaves, crush it and smell it….

Paint – Children love to paint and today you can ask them to paint what they see, or what their ideal world would look like. You could even make your own paint. Here is a recipe for for homemade watercolours:

1/2 cup bicarb soda

1/4 cup corn starch

1/4 cup white vinegar

1 teaspoon sugar syrup

Natural food colouring

Ice cube tray

Mix all ingredients together on a container or bowl.  Stir immediately with a fork to combine until thickened. Pour small amounts into an ice cub tray, then add some food colouring, use immediately, or leave to dry.

http://happyhooligans.ca/homemade-watercolour-paints/
http://happyhooligans.ca/homemade-watercolour-paints/

Get crafty using recycled materials. Use egg cartons, cereal boxes, lids of milk bottles, old paper – anything really and get creative.

Give back to others. There are a number of elderly people on my street and one recently broke her hip. I never got to drop by, so hopefully in the next little bit I can get my kids to help bake some cookies and drop by and say hello. It’s so important to teach children empathy and how to care for others.

If you’ve done anything today to give thanks to Mother Earth, then let me know. I’d love to hear about it!

Spring time detox

Spring is in the air in Sydney. The smell of jasmine fills my backyard, flowers are out and after a very wet and cool August, the weather is slowly warming. My daughter is now five and a half months old and getting cuter by the day. She arrived into this world in a house full of madness. My son, then my middle daughter had the chicken pox, so we were confined to my bedroom in quarantine until the house was deemed safe for her to move around in. During this time, I read a lot and to keep me from going crazy my mum borrowed some magazines from the library. One of the magazines that she borrowed was ‘Green Lifestyle Magazine’ (http://www.greenlifestylemag.com.au/). It was while reading this magazine that I learnt about Palm Oil. I already knew a little about Palm Oil, but that article really opened my eyes, but first, some facts about palm oil.
What is palm oil?
Palm oil is a vegetable oil that comes from the tree Elaeis guineensis. The oil comes from the fruit and kernels of the tree. Most palm oil comes from Indonesia and Malaysia (86%).
palm oil
What is it used for?
Palm oil has many uses. It’s used in anything from toothpaste, soap and shampoo, cosmetics, cleaning products to candles, biscuits, cereals, chocolate and ice cream! Even environmentally friendly, or organic products contain palm oil.
What’s the problem with palm oil?
The main issue with palm oil is that large areas of rainforest are cleared to make way for palm oil plantations. This results in the loss of species and habitats for animals such as the Orangutan.
Additionally, the rainforests that are cleared to make way for palm oil plantations sit on top of peat bogs which are large stores of carbon. As the rainforest is cut and burnt, large amounts of carbon dioxide are released into the atmosphere.
oil-palm-plantation-vl
Is all palm oil problematic?
With so many products containing palm oil and its derivatives, it is unrealistic to rid the world of palm oil, so what alternative is there? There is a certification scheme called RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil) which aims to ensure palm oil used is sustainably sourced. Though this is welcome, we must beware of greenwash and having marketing departments confusing consumers.
Firstly, just because a company is a member of the RSPO it doesn’t mean that they are using sustainable palm oil. Being a member of the RSPO means that they have made a commitment to ‘EVENTUALLY purchase sustainable palm oil, in most cases that commitment is to be in place by 2015’ (http://www.palmoilinvestigations.org/brand-palm-oil-statements).
Usually, if a company is using sustainably sourced palm oil, that they will display this logo and to complicate things further, if a brand states that they use sustainable palm oil, but don’t talk about whether this is certified, then what they may be doing is buying GreenPalm certificates to offset their usage. GreenPalm SUPPORTS the production of sustainable palm oil, BUT the physical palm oil used in the product is not certified.
rspo_certificate_logo_thumbnail
Now, armed with more knowledge on palm oil, I decided to do some researching to see what I may have, which could potentially have unsustainable (bad) palm oil. When I looked into this website, I was left gobsmacked: http://www.palmoilinvestigations.org/products-australia . What I found particularly interesting, and concerning at the same time is that palm oil is referred to by some many names, which makes it difficult for many to decipher whether products that they buy contain palm oil. Here are just some of the names by which palm oil is known (for a more comprehensive list of names, please see: http://www.palmoilinvestigations.org/Fold%20up%20ingredients%20list-1.pdf):
• Vegetable oil;
• Elaeis guineensis;
• Elaeis oleifera;
• Sodium lauryl;
• Laureth sulphate (can also be derived from coconut oil);
• Cetearyl alcohol;
• Palmate, palmitic acid or Cetyl palmintate;
• Glyeryl stearate; or
• Sodium kernelate.
With my magnifying glass in hand, I set about going through the myriad of everyday products in my home to find whether they contain palm oil and unfortunately I found many. In fact, going through the listing of products from the list in the link above and my fridge, bathroom, kitchen etc, I was overwhelmed.
Here is just a sample of some of the products that I have on my ‘no, does not contain good palm oil’, ‘yes, contains good palm oil’, ‘Don’t know’! This is only a sample though. With limited nap times, I couldn’t go through everything in my home.
???????????????????????????????

The bad list
The bad list

Not sure if these contain unsustainable palm oil
Not sure if these contain unsustainable palm oil

So with spring in the air, I’m on a palm oil detox mission! I expect that I will not rid my home of unsustainable palm oil altogether, but I hope in the next 6 months to reduce the unsustainable palm oil present in my home by 50%. I will report on this over the next 6 months and will share any tips and difficulties I face. I look forward to you sharing your journey also.
Resources
Wading through the ‘ins’ and ‘outs’ of this issue is difficult. You almost need a chemistry degree to understand it despite best intentions, however this website is useful and there is an App that should help when out and about shopping: http://www.orangutans.com.au/Orangutans-Survival-Information/Helping-you-buy-responsibly-Palm-oil-free-alternatives.aspx?gclid=CJXu1pX1l8ECFVUAvAod-CAAfQ
Other resources include:
https://www.facebook.com/palmoilproductsinAustralia
http://www.ethical.org.au/know-the-score-in-the-store/
http://www.saynotopalmoil.com/
http://www.zoo.org.au/get-involved/act-for-wildlife/dont-palm-us-off
https://itunes.apple.com/au/app/palm-oil-shopping-guide/id671945416?mt=8
http://www.wwf.org.au/our_work/saving_the_natural_world/forests/palm_oil/
orangutan

Save Tasmania’s Forests

I have been very busy of late preparing for the arrival of baby No.3. My children are excited, but also somewhat apprehensive. My daughter has decided that she doesn’t like going to pre-school and every morning is filled with tears. All of this is exactly as it was when my son was expressing his fears prior to her arrival. Now of course they are best friends and he cries if I suggest that we do something special, just him and I, as he says that he will miss his sister too much to do something alone with me!
Well one of the things I did have in mind before my stomach getting quite so gigantic was to go out for a bushwalk to enjoy nature. I used to live in North Turramurra and loved going to Bobbin Head National Park. In fact, I could follow a track from across the road of my old house that led me into the national park. Oh how I long for a decent bushwalk!
This all led me to think back at my grumbles and one of them being the current government’s campaign to allow logging of World Heritage listed forests in Tasmania. In fact, they have formally asked the United Nations World Heritage Committee (UNESCO) to de-list some of the land added to the areas with this status. When I first heard this, I honestly thought it had to be a joke. I mean most countries are excited about having some of their assets recognized formally around the world as World Heritage. Australia however wants to put short term economic considerations ahead of environmental or simple common sense. I’m hoping that the World Heritage Committee which is due to hand down its decision in June sees some common sense and refuses this request!

Tasmania Forest 3

As an environmentalist of course I am flabbergasted. I mean haven’t we been there and done that? Shouldn’t deals that were made under the Forestry Agreements be allowed to run their course without re-igniting emotion and an ‘us vs them’ battle? Even more concerning is the fact that environmental groups are being locked out of the decision making process.
This topic seems to be moving fast in a not altogether good direction following the recent state election in Tasmania. At a time when people are worried about job losses and the closing of various industries, it’s easy to re-ignite the old debate of ‘the environment’ against ‘jobs’, however it is equally important to protect areas of wilderness for the sake of biodiversity, prevention of ecological impacts like degradation of water sources, erosion and climate change to name a few and if for nothing else, but for future generations to enjoy.
STYX FOREST GREENPEACE

What can you do?
There are things that we can all do about the protection of Tasmania’s firests:
• First – exercise your rights as a consumer by demanding timber sourced from sustainable sources. This is likely to have the greatest impact on saving this amazing wilderness. In fact there are some in the forestry industry who are not happy about this change that the government is trying to introduce, as it may affect the ability of Tasmanian sourced timber from obtaining international certification of its timber.
• Support NGOs like the Australian Conservation Foundation (http://www.acfonline.org.au/be-informed/land-forests/tasmanian-forest-protection) who are working to raise awareness of this issue.
• Sign petitions – they do work!
http://www.action.org.au/heritage
https://www.getup.org.au/campaigns/save-our-forests/keep-tassie-forests-protected/thanks-for-signing
• Write to the Environment Minister Greg Hunt and Tony Abbott to demand protection of Tasmania’s Forests and a reversal of this backward decision:
Prime Minister Tony Abbott
http://www.pm.gov.au/contact-your-pm
Greg Hunt MP
Member for Flinders
Minister for the Environment
Postal Address:
PO Box 274
Hastings Vic 3915
Electorate Office:
Shop 4/184 Salmon Street
Hastings Vic 3915
Phone: 03-5979 3188
Fax: 03-5979 3034
Tasmania Forest

My grumble!

Carbon Dioxide

I have not made this announcement so public yet, but I am pregnant with baby no.3! My son and daughter are excited about the impending arrival of a baby sister. I too am happy, but I have to say this pregnancy has been a lot more difficult and more grumbly. Grumbly at a lot of things, but also grumbly at the state of politics in Australia.
Before leaving to live the in the UAE, John Howard was in power. I was very happy to get away from the negativity of that era. I returned to Julia Gillard in power and all the insane PM hating stuff that went with that.
Last year’s election failed to excite. Not only because I am very busy and most of the time too busy to care, but because the choices on offer were so terrible. Tony Abbot was elected PM.
I have said previously that before I moved to the UAE, I was very active and vocal about politics. While living abroad that all changed and once I had children, I found myself with too little time to feel much for the people running Australia.
That is all, until Tony Abbot was elected who seems hell bent on taking Australia backwards. Since he came into power with the promise of ‘not lying’ nor going back on ‘promises’, Australia has witnessed the exact opposite of that. One by one, terrible policies are being announced and either people agree, or are two dumbfounded with the speed with which they are being trundled out that they are in a state of shock and don’t know how to respond. I am one of those in the latter category. Over the last 6 months I have found myself just standing there with my mouth hanging open saying ‘what, wh…how…huh?!’
I am not going to go through all of these bad policies in this blog (like the refugee ‘solution’, the cuts to health, employee rights…). I have however found another blogger who is keeping a detailed and up to date list and I really recommend everyone check this link out: http://sallymcmanus.net/abbotts-wreckage/ . The policies that I am going to grumble about in the next few blog entries are: climate change, the shark cull (though this is a Western Australian thing, the federal government does have a role to play), the campaign to have the World Heritage listing of Tasmania’s forests removed and the approval of a coal port in the Great Barrier Reef.
Climate Change
This is a big one. The Liberal government has been very vocal about this issue for a long time. From the time of John Howard when the government refused to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, to now and their zeal to undo any of the good work done on climate change in Australia over the last 10 years. A central part of their campaign for election was the ‘carbon tax’. The Carbon tax was introduced by Julia Gillard much to the horror of many people as she was apparently on record for saying she would never introduce it. This was seized upon as a reason to loathe her, as she was seen to be a slippery liar…..The carbon tax was about putting a price on carbon with the idea being that if you released carbon, that you should pay (polluter pays principle). The price of carbon intensive industries and goods was set to increase while others were not to be affected. The issue was that energy providers increased the cost of electricity over this period, partly due to the carbon tax, but partly for other reasons. People were angry as their energy bills went up – so the average ‘mums and dads’ were affected. I have also written an earlier post with my experiences with increased energy bills: https://ecomummy.com/2012/09/09/is-the-carbon-tax-making-me-use-less-energy/ and https://ecomummy.com/2013/02/24/my-solar-rific-success/
Tony Abbott

This was seized by the Liberal government, as they set out to undo all the positive work done in the climate change policy area once they came into power. At the moment, they are in the process of trying to reverse this ‘tax’ and replace it with their own climate change policy called ‘Direct Action’. The Direct Action policy is set to come into effect as soon as the carbon tax gets repealed (1 July 2014). It works by giving manufacturers and businesses financial assistance for efficiency measures (http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-12-20/coalition-climate-change-direct-action-policy-explained/5067188). One of the many problems with this policy is that there is no penalty for projects that fail to achieve their predicted reduction targets, so they get money for possibly doing something without any recourse if they do nothing! I don’t see how this is the answer.
To ensure there is confusion amongst the public so as to reduce opposition to the new policies to be released, one of the first things the government did was to get rid of the Climate Commission. The Climate Commission was set up to be an independent body whose role was to communicate and explain the science of climate change to the public. With the body gone, obviously the government is counting on confusion to get its policies through without questioning from the media or the Australian public.
Now where my grumble really starts is that in addition to this change, the government is looking at changing the renewable energy target (RET) established by previous governments. The target is 20% of energy sources to come from renewable sources. Tony Abbott wants to reduce this and is going about it by banging on about how renewable energy projects are making electricity more expensive. Now in my mind, I keep thinking about how this could be true….as well as energy efficiency, renewable energy is one of the most effective ways of addressing climate change. Australia with its abundance of sunshine should be taking advantage of that by becoming a world leader, rather than discouraging it. I honestly don’t see how having solar and wind energy in the mix should be damned, rather than celebrated. To top it off, the head of the review panel into the RET is headed by a climate skeptic, so its recommendations should probably not be surprising at all!
I could go on and on about the negativity that is being trumpeted up and the lies and misconceptions that the government is spreading, but I’ll stop my grumble for now. While it is easy to feel helpless during this debate, but there are things that we can all do to ensure the voices of those that question the sanity of these policies are heard:
• Write to the Environment Minister, Greg Hunt and make your opposition to these policies known:
Shop 4/184 Salmon Street
Hastings VIC 3915
Phone: 03 5979 3188
Fax: 03 5979 3034
Email: http://www.greghunt.com.au/ContactGreg.aspx
• Check out what actions are happening to address climate change at http://cana.net.au/
• Keep your eye on 350.org for actions they are working on: http://350.org/
• Participate in events like ‘Earth Hour’: http://www.earthhour.org.au
• Make changes in your own life to reduce your impact on climate change.

Can Collaborative Consumption Save the World?

Since moving back to Sydney, there have been some terms that I was not used to hearing when I lived in the UAE, like the GFC (Global Financial Crisis). It’s not that people didn’t talk about it – it’s just that it wasn’t called the GFC (Australian’s love to shorten words!).

Another term that I have come to hear, particularly since returning to work has been ‘collaborative consumption’.  What is collaborative consumption? Well in simple terms, it is the notion of ‘sharing is caring…’ and ‘one person’s waste is another’s treasure’ – you know what you tell your kids constantly as they grab toys from each other and fight over things.

Image

In the context of the adult world, ‘sharing is caring’ is being facilitated by technology and internet based groups like ‘Freecycle’ , ‘Airbnb’ and ‘Swaptree’.  These sites help connect the people that have something to give with those that want that item/good/service. 

Image

 

You could say that as a result of the GFC, that Collaborative Consumption has grown significantly. Once you hit a point where you look back at the rapid consumerism that typified life before the GFC, you start to think ‘goodness – did I need all that stuff’? ‘who convinced me that I needed all that stuff?’ ‘now that I have all this stuff that I don’t use, what do I do with it?’

I don’t think the idea of collaborative consumption in itself is anything new. I mean surely people gave away their unwanted baby clothes and toys before? And surely people let each other borrow things? And what about libraries and video stores?

What I do think is that now, through the internet your network can be expanded significantly beyond  your friends and neighbour and the types of goods swapped or traded can vary a lot more from an old bike to office space or your knowledge. It is a great way of connecting with other like minded people and helps create a sense of community, even if it is in cyber spaces.

Now the question is: can collaborative consumption save the world? While I don’t think it can fully save the world, I believe that it is an exciting time to be looking and re-defining our notion of ownership – hey it might even free up a lot of room in your house and also save you money. I think it also helps to elongate the life of products, which is so important in reducing wastage and managing resources more efficiently.

Image

While I have signed up to ‘Freecycle’, I have not actively used it, but I can give some examples from my life more recently and really, it has just been about talking to friends, neighbours and colleagues:

–          I recently went camping and rather than go and buy all the camping stuff, I borrowed most things from a close friend’s family for this trip. I hope to continue to do this, rather than go and buy all camping gear that will inevitably sit in my garage gathering dust for the 98% of the time I don’t use it;

–          All the clothes and shoes that my sister has given to me that my daughter now gets to enjoy. It has saved me a lot of money and she has great fashion sense, so I never have to worry about my daughter not having a nice dress or something warm to roll around in;

–          The Thomas the Tank Engine set borrowed from my sister in law. It has made my son one very happy chappy and has saved me a lot of money in buying all the Thomas figurines, bridges, cranes etc for this phase in his life (who knows he is particularly obsessed with trains and it may last….);

–          Going over to our neighbour’s house to cut some wood using their power saw, saved my husband a lot of energy;

–          Having my family close means that we can often share food. When I haven’t cooked, or can’t be bothered cooking to have a healthy home cooked meal from my mum is so great. I try to return the favour also!

–          Sharing gardening tips and seeds with colleagues and friends. After all sharing is caring!

So how do you start to do this?

Check out some of these websites:

–          https://www.freecycle.org/ whole lotta things people want to give away or swap

–          http://www.jayride.com.au/ helps you get to your destination without your own car

–          https://www.airbnb.com.au/ have a holiday cheaply!

–          http://www.swapstyle.com/ stay fashionable through this clothes swapping website

–          http://www.meetup.com/ meet people that share your ideas and passions

These site are only a start. I’m sure there are many many more.  You might even want to start your own group.

Do you have any ‘sharing is caring’ examples to share with other ‘Eco-mummy’ readers?

Further reading:

http://www.ted.com/talks/rachel_botsman_the_case_for_collaborative_consumption.html

http://www.collaborativeconsumption.com/

Image

Gardening lessons learnt

Over the last year I have been growing vegetables. Last summer I enjoyed zucchinis, tomatoes, spinach and all sorts of other goodies. During winter I enjoyed Kale, carrots and snowpeas. So I’ve been looking forward all winter to spring when I can start to plant my summer vegetables. After preparing my vegetable beds and finally adding my compost (which I’ve had ‘brewing’ for many many months), I thought I would grow my seedlings to then plant into the garden beds.
This is when things started to take a downward turn. I feel that as well as sharing my successes, that I have to share my failures too.
I had seen something in my organic gardening magazine about using toilet rolls to plants seeds into. The idea is that once the seeds have grown into seedlings that you could plant the whole thing and that over time the toilet roll would break down.
This idea had me excited. This was a great reuse idea and an upcycling one at that. I could reduce waste to landfill and grow my vegetables organically!
For months I saved toilet rolls and the odd biodegradable takeaway coffee cups. When the time came, I cut each toilet roll in half and created bases for them. I happily planted my seeds into them. I placed them in a sunny spot and watered them regularly. I waited and waited….weeks went by….oooh a corn seedling …..ahh no more…..nothing……seedling died…..hmmmm, nothing grew!

My toilet roll collection
My toilet roll collection

Up to 1 October 249
Up to 1 October 250
Up to 1 October 251
Up to 1 October 253
Up to 1 October 254

I have thought about why this was such a dismal failure. There are a number of potential reasons:
• The rolls were in a very sunny spot – maybe it was too hot. Certainly the soil seemed to be quite dry a lot of the time;
• Spring seems to have skipped Sydney this year altogether and we are straight into very high summer temperatures. Maybe it was too hot for the seedlings to grow;
• My seeds are from last year – maybe they are not so ‘fertile’ as they have been in a cupboard for a year;
• Maybe there were chemicals in the toilet rolls that didn’t allow the seeds to grown.
Perhaps if you are willing to undertake this experiment, I would love to hear how you went.
For now, I decided to plant some seeds directly into the soil. Let’s see how I go….

Making a difference

It is scary how spring like winter felt and how summer like spring is feeling in Sydney. Yes, lots of people are probably enjoying this unseasonally warm weather, and while I’m enjoying it too, I am a little worried.
Many people in the developed world can get by by having access to water and by turning on our air conditioner, but others including our flora and fauna have to manage with these changes somehow.
While a global solution is needed at the government level, I truly believe that individual action can have a big impact.
Here is an article I would like to share, hoping that it inspires you!

http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/life/your-planet-needs-you-10-ways-to-help-20131003-2uuub.html

September 2013 140

Building a sustainable future

Cambodia

Earlier this year, I felt that I wanted to ‘do something’. I felt that something was missing, that I needed to connect with my core values. A rejection or two also brought this home. I felt that rather than dwell in negativity, that I wanted to do something inspiring and something that was ‘about people’ and helping those in need in a tangible way.
Last year, I had bought a copy of the ‘The Big Issue’ which is a magazine sold by the homeless or long term unemployed. I had seen an ad for a volunteer program that went for one week. I felt that one week was something that I could do, so I went and found the magazine and found the ad. It was for ‘Habitat for Humanity’. Habitat for Humanity is an organization that supports those in need by helping them build houses.
I was immediately attracted. I thought ‘how wonderful to work with a community and help them build a house’! I looked through their catalogue of international projects and came upon the ‘Cambodia – Mekong Big Build’ later this year. After some discussion with my husband, I decided to put my name down.
So what is this build about? Here is some information:
‘After the closure of the Stueng Meanchey dumpsite in 2009, scavenger landless families dispersed in rental shacks all over the Phnom Penh. The Mekong Big Build in Cambodia is establishing a ‘new city’ within bicycling distance from the Stueng Meanchey dump site. The project is aiming to construct 50 affordable, rent-to-own housing for families who used to live in the dumpsite area. The location will allow them to find work in the city as well as develop new skills like gardening and sewing.’ (http://www.habitat.org.au/globalvillage/cambodiamekongbigbuild)

A young boy peeks out of his small shack at Stung Meanchey Garbage Dump on Thursday, February 9, 2006 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.  (Photo by Matthew Williams/ZUMA Press)
A young boy peeks out of his small shack at Stung Meanchey Garbage Dump on Thursday, February 9, 2006 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. (Photo by Matthew Williams/ZUMA Press)

I think it sounds like a wonderful project and I am thrilled to go and do something positive for those in need.
Now this is where I get my donations hat out ….as part of participating in the build, I am supposed to raise $2,000! Thanks to some kind donations, I have a start, but I have a long way to go. Here is where I hope the kindness and goodwill of friends, family and strangers will help me in reaching my target.
So how can you help? Please donate what you can towards my trip by going to the following link:
http://www.habitat.org.au/page.aspx?pid=1267&tab=0&frsid=1480
I would like to recognise those that support me and I will do that in the following ways:
• If you donate at least $AUD50 I will send you a ‘Thank you Card’ with a photo of me during the build.I will publish this on my blog http://www.ecomummy.com and will promote through my networks. You will also receive a copy of this photo which you can keep or use to promote your contribution towards this great project.
• If you donate at least $AUD200 I will print a photo of you or your company logo on a T-shirt and wear this during my build with a message of thanks. I will take a photo and publish this on my blog and promote through my networks. In recognition of your wonderful contribution, you will also receive a copy of this photo for your own use or for further marketing.
• If you or your company donate at least $AUD400 I will not only wear a T-shirt with your picture or company logo, but I will also record a video message of thanks and upload this to my blog and publicise through my networks. You will also receive this clip which you can use on your or your company’s website to highlight your contribution towards helping families in Cambodia.

Thank you so much!

Cambodia children