Jodie O'Shea Orphanage Fish Community Solutions

Thank you Thursday: Hearts and Smiles from Bali

This month’s #ThankyouThursday is one from The Fish Chick archives. In 2014, Bianca experienced a life-changing stay at the Jodie O’Shea Orphanage:

Arriving at the Jodie O’Shea Orphanage last month wasn’t the easiest of tasks, even my driver got a bit lost. It’s in south Denpasar, Bali, and not at all in a tourist area, so I knew I was in for an eye-opening experience.

Jodie O'Shea Orphanage Fish Community Solutions

The Jodie O’Shea Orphanage was established in August 2005 in loving memory of a young Australian woman who was a victim of the 2002 Bali bombing. It reminds us all that even out of the most tragic events, truly wonderful acts of kindness and humanity can blossom and bring light to the lives of many.

I was here for almost a week, and most of that time sharing a room with two other volunteers, and I’m happy to say, I was in the top bunk! (A place I haven’t spent much time for many years!) My first morning I was awake about 7am, and I could already hear the kids running around outside. It was a Saturday, but they were already up and about, getting breakfast and ready for school. Some had already left to get to school for a 7am start! The 70 children here range from two years old to about nineteen, and go to nine different schools in the region, attending school six days a week.

Jodie O'Shea Orphanage Fish Community Solutions

There are some really fantastic volunteers spending their time here, including one very lovely young woman I met, Lauren, who is from London. Every afternoon from about 2-5pm they have activity time, organised by the volunteers. Some days we did arts and craft activities, including making masks, and other times we played games and even did some musical activities. Each day, the children have an hour of reading time, spent enjoying both Indonesian and English stories and, on a rotational basis, with an English tutor also.

The kids here are beautiful. Well looked after, they are given three nutritious meals a day, plus vitamins, and an environment that really is just like a big family. (Or an enormous family – with 70 other siblings hahaha.) Even the older kids that have left in recent years and started working come back to visit on the weekends, often staying over on the Saturday night. Like all siblings there is occasional bickering and tears, and often it’s the teens that are stepping in to sort out the younger ones.

Jodie O'Shea Orphanage Fish Community Solutions

I’ll be honest, my time at Jodie O’Shea’s was somewhat challenging, but an experience that while short, will stay with me forever. It opened my eyes a little more and confirmed that while there is hardship there is still much kindness in our world.

So this Thank You Thursday, I’d like to give a big shout out to everyone at the Jodie O’Shea Orphanage. Thank you for welcoming me during my stay. Thank you for the love and support you provide to such beautiful children. And thanks, most of all, to the kids who showed me that with big hearts resilience can always have a big smile.

See you in the pond,

The Fish Chick.

Thank You Thursday: Give Simply this Christmas

With Christmas a mere few weeks away, I’m wondering if anyone else has felt like it has snuck up on them? No matter how much time I have – or in the case of this year, don’t have – for Christmas shopping I always like to make the effort to make an extra donation of sorts to a children’s charity or similar.

And this year, given I’m going to be pressed for time, I think I’ve found the perfect solution to spread a little extra cheer.

Simply Giving is an online toy drive facility bringing convenience, cost-savings and appropriateness to the giving process. They do this by partnering with charities and establish a branded page to facilitate a toy drive.

The business was founded about ten years ago as a way to assist charities reduce their costs, increase their donations and increase their efficiency of getting donated gifts to those in need.

Simply Giving not only provides the digital interface for charities, they also store and coordinate the toys in their warehouse before distributing them to various locations around the country – effectively taking the logistical challenges away. This makes it super easy for donors and the organisations who now only have to deliver to families and children.

Since beginning it has facilitated the giving of over $2m worth of toys. For charities in need of sourcing toys for their beneficiaries, or donors hoping to get into the spirit of giving, you need to connect with Simply Giving.

So, this Thank You Thursday, we say howdy to the team of elves at Simply Giving for helping bring Santa into the digital age and making an otherwise busy time of the year just that little bit easier for charities.

See you in the pond,

The Fish Chick.

Thank You Thursday: Trash Talkin’

Chilli Beach is a really remote location in north Queensland, which takes two days of driving mostly on dirt tracks to get to from Cairns. It’s part of the coastline of Cape York Peninsula and could possibly be one of Australia’s most polluted beaches. What is most shocking, though perhaps, is that the rubbish there is not left from beach-goers because there are not many people that visit this beach due to its remoteness. It is purely rubbish that has washed up on the beach from the ocean.

Thank You Thursday: Inspiring Philanthropy

The Governor-General, Sir Peter Cosgrove, approved 891 awards in the Queen’s Birthday Honours this year, many among them were philanthropists and individuals involved in the charity sector. One appointment made was to Chris Cuffe, for distinguished service to the community as an advocate for philanthropy, as a supporter of improved financial efficiencies in charitable organisations, and to the funds management industry.

Private ancillary funds (or PAFs as they are known) are structures for strategic long-term giving that can offer donors tax deductibility, flexibility, and more meaning with their charitable giving. Since being introduced in 2001, there are now over 1,400 PAFs in Australia and collectively they have more than $4b in funds.

Chris Cuffe established a private ancillary fund himself and found the experience frustrating due to the lack of awareness of these structures. While he believed in the model, he quickly learned it was not that well known amongst wealthy Australians and their advisers. So, to inspire and support more individuals and families to use this structure to manage their giving, Chris founded Australian Philanthropic Services, a non-profit organisation helping increase the impact of giving and build the sustainability of those within the sector.

“The difference between a merely prosperous society and a truly great one lies in the strength of its non-profit sector.”

Chris also founded the Third Link Growth Fund, an equities investment fund that also donates to a number of charities that provides an opportunity for investors to participate in a professionally managed investment fund, but all fees received from managing the Fund’s investments, go to support the non-profit sector. They currently have about $140m of investors’ funds in it and in less than ten years the Third Link Growth Fund has distributed about $5.7m of donations.

Both of these organisations that Chris founded are supporting the philanthropic sector and inspiring people to be more planned in their giving and support of charities.

So, this Thank You Thursday, we send a big thanks to Chris Cuffe for his work in promoting philanthropy in Australia, and congratulations on your recent Officer of the Order of Australia award.

See you in the pond,

The Fish Chick.

Photo courtesy of The Australian

Thank You Thursday: Gifts of Dignity

Last Sunday, 28th May, was Menstrual Hygiene Day. The vision of this initiative is to create a world in which every woman and girl can manage her menstruation in a hygienic way – wherever she is – in privacy, safety and with dignity. While our thoughts may initially go to women and girls in developing countries and the scarcity of sanitary resources they have and lack of education about hygiene, it is important to note that similar challenges are facing women closer to home.

About 46,000 women are homeless across Australia and, for them, menstrual hygiene is an ongoing issue that is often not talked about. Homeless women face the challenge of menstrual management and hygiene EVERY month and from stealing or asking strangers for sanitary products, using old socks, or even dried bark or leaves, these are some of the solutions they turn to.

One young woman decided to change that.

While she is most-known for her role on Neighbours, actress Saskia Hampele has a Bachelor of Social Work degree and has worked in the homeless sector. It is this part of her life that sparked her idea for creating a sustainable solution to this reoccurring problem so many women face.

Shocked by the lack of resources for women struggling to access sanitary care, Saskia decided a sustainable solution was needed, so she took a product that every woman needs, and is using the proceeds to help less fortunate women. Through an organic tampon subscription service, women can have their monthly sanitary products delivered and know that for each box they purchase, one box if being gifted to a woman in need. It’s called Gift Box.

Another organisation working in this same space is the Melbourne Period Project – a local organisation distributing donated sanitary items, like tampons and sanitary pads, to women living on the streets of Melbourne. Founded over three years ago, the small charity believes that the subscription service of Gift Box will be a great help to their service.

And, with more than 220,000 homeless women across the United States, this challenge is faced there too. However, last year, New York’s Mayor, Bill de Blasio, signed a package of legislation increasing access to feminine hygiene products for New York City’s shelter residents, students and inmates, saying: “There should be no stigma around something as fundamental as menstruation. These laws recognize that feminine hygiene products are a necessity – not a luxury”.

He is 100% right. Feminine hygiene is a necessity not a choice or a luxury.

Menstrual Hygiene Day is a global platform to catalyse progress towards a world in which all women and girls manage their menstruation hygienically, with confidence, with dignity and without stigma.

So, this Thank You Thursday, we give a shout out to Saskia and her social enterprise, Gift Box, as well as other initiatives out there doing their bit toward this same goal.

See you in the pond,

The Fish Chick.

Thank You Thursday: Our Littlest Aussie Battlers

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Wellbeing, 8.6% of babies were born before 37 weeks in 2013, with most of these births occurring at gestational ages of between 32 and 36 completed weeks. The average gestational age for all pre-term births was 33.3 weeks.

That is more than 26,000 premmie babies born in that year!

One small, volunteer-run organisation has been working tirelessly for the last ten years to support the families of, and raise awareness about these little battlers.

In 2007 Julia Toivonena gave birth to her son, Ronan, at 27 weeks gestation. She connected with another mother in the same situation and found there was not really anywhere for them to get support from each other. They decided to set up an online forum.  No matter where families are located geographically, their website and support services are accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

In October 2012, with the goal of expanding the online support provided to families, L’il Aussie Prems Foundation became a registered charity. Today, the organisation provides support and services to families of premature and sick newborns online and in the community, raises awareness of premature birth and donates equipment to Australian NICU/SCN’s.

Alex at 6 days old, and wearing green as a toddler.

We’ve seen, from a distance, how challenging it is for families of sick newborns. Good friends of ours had their son, Alex, at 31 weeks gestation. He was tiny and weighed slightly over one kilo. Megan and James certainly had it tough as their son fought the battles that so many little premmies must face. Their strength and tenacity has been remarkable.

Despite his rocky start, Alex is now nearly three years old and one of the happiest little boys around. He even recently became a big brother.

Each April, L’il Aussie Prems Foundation invites Australia to help raise funds and awareness by wearing green for premmies. This special day was held yesterday, and parents all over the country were sharing pics on social media of their premmie child holding a photo of themselves when they were in hospital with the hashtag #greenforprems. Some of the pics are just so sweet!

This Thank You Thursday we give a shout out to Julia and the dedicated volunteers that make L’il Aussie Prems Foundation possible. Congratulations to you all on your 10th anniversary. And, of course, a big hug to all the parents and families out there who have had premmies and been through the challenges themselves.

See you in the pond,

The Fish Chick.

P.S We’re also please to say that after experiencing a lengthy stay in the NICU in 2007, Ronan (the little premmie that started it all!) has worked hard to catch up and has grown into a healthy 10-year-old currently enjoying school.