My Selfish Reason To Help Nepal

I was in Nepal in 2013. The earthquake could have struck then. It could have killed me and my fellow travellers. I was lucky. But thousands are not two years later.

Sometimes people ask me why I spend so much time and effort on Oz Fair Trade, a charity that I founded that helps people who I’ll most likely never meet. My answer is usually “why not?”. I don’t deserve a better life. Since I am so much luckier than so many others, why not help them?

My preferred approach to poverty alleviation has always been fair trade not aid. But when disaster like this strikes, timely and efficient aid is absolutely necessary.

Currently, I support three fair trade suppliers in Nepal, and I haven’t heard from them since the earthquake. I hope they are ok. I know they will be ok even if they are not ok now, because people who live in extreme poverty are so resilient.

About two weeks ago, I teamed up with World Vision to raise fund for their Nepal Earthquake Appeal. World Vision came to my mind because I sponsored a Nepali girl for three years through them, until that particular program was successfully concluded. I know they are doing fantastic work in Nepal, along with many other aid organisations. I thought raising funds for Nepal through the sale of Nepali fair trade products would be a great way to not only help with the immediate aid but also promote Nepali fair trade products, so that in the long term, Nepal can rebuild sustainably.

The campaign ran for two weeks, and I was able to make a $500 donation to World Vision’s Nepal Earthquake Appeal from the generosity of Oz Fair Trade customers. So THANK YOU!!!

This weekend, I will attend a fund raising garden concert in Canberra hosted by a fellow rotarian to raise funds for Nepal. I am very proud to be a rotarian, and I think Australians are so generous towards those who need a helping hand.

You can check out our Nepal fair trade range here.

Why I Am Becoming A Rotarian

I first came across Rotary at a BBQ in front of my local hardware store. It’s just another charity, as far as I was concerned. The guy behind an apron looked like Santa, and I was happy to have sausages and a cold drink as a cheap lunch. After a few cheap lunches, I started to take notice of their unusual name. What is “Rotary”?

I didn’t really act on my curiosity until recently. My life took a turn, and I suddenly found myself desperate for new things to do, new people to meet, and new experiences to try. It was at this moment that “Rotary” popped into my mind.

So what is Rotary?

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Rotary Australia belongs to Rotary International, which is a non-political and non-religious organisation that has about 35,000 clubs and 1.2 million members worldwide. The members of Rotary Clubs are known as Rotarians. Rotary’s primary motto is “Service Above Self”. Members usually meet weekly to socialise and to organise work on their service goals.

So why am I interested?

I have always wanted to join a community of people who are selfless and who want to make the world a better place. So I set up Canberra Sustainable and Fair Living Meetup. So I network with social entrepreneurs. So I joined Kiva. But I always felt like I wasn’t contributing enough to local communities, and I wasn’t having enough interactions with experienced leaders in the charity/NFP sector. I am eager to learn and engage, but I struggled to find “my people”. I am an introvert, which makes it even more difficult.

Friends have taken me to church, but I haven’t found that calling inside me. Many charities have a religious belief, which makes me uncomfortable to join or volunteer for. But Rotary is different. It is non-religious and non-political. It is one of the most efficient charities in the world in terms of how little money is spent on administration. It has a good track record and it is a large family. I will be welcomed to attend any Rotary club meetings anywhere in the world. The thought of connecting with so many like-minded individuals made me smile.

Which Rotary club am I joining?

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I am joining my local Gungahlin Rotary club. So far, I have been to two meetings and one Christmas party, and I have found Rotarians so friendly and welcoming. In the last meeting, we had a guest speaker, a fellow Rotarian who has served in the aid industry for over 20 years, and I thoroughly enjoyed her honest account of stories that she heard or experienced. I felt inspired.

Gungahlin Rotary club raises most funds through BBQ, and supports a number of local projects like the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards and the National Youth Science Forum. It also supports international projects like Rotary Oceania Medical Aid for Children, Shelter Box and End Polio Now.

As a Rotarian, I will be given exceptional opportunities to do wonderful things for not just the local communities but also international communities, on top of my work as director of Oz Fair Trade.

You all know how passionate I am about fair trade, and how I prefer trade to aid. I believe that aid can be useful in emergency and special circumstances, and if done right, it can be very beneficial. There is a lot I want to learn in this field, and joining the Rotary club opens a big new door for me. I am excited!