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Dr Judith Goh and Dr Hannah Krause helping fistula patients in Africa

Back in 2017 as one of my New Year’s pledges I decided to ask my family and friends to give a donation to HADA -the organisation which fund-raises for the fistula and prolapse repair work that Professor Judith Goh and Dr Hannah Krause do in Africa – instead of giving me a present for my birthday and Mother’s day. I’ve written many blogs about the incredible life-changing surgery Judith and Hannah (and Neroli, Miriam, Barb and many others) perform for the women, who suffer shocking birth injuries, which leaves them with constant urinary and faecal incontinence.  This incontinence often leads to ostracising of the woman from their family and even their community.

But early in 2017, it also occurred to me that I too could also give a donation to HADA in lieu of a present, to all the people I usually give presents to in a year – family, friends, staff – and most importantly all of them went along with it and thought it was a great idea! And for my Mother’s Day and my birthday everyone also complied and gave a donation to HADA on my behalf and in the twelve months from January to December, I donated $844 (which is tax-deductible also!).

It wasn’t hard at all. In fact it was very satisfying.

2020 Christmas also saw members of my staff remember that I love donations as presents and between them they gave $150 to HADA. My son also gave my husband and I a $100 donation each to the World Wildlife Fund on our behalf.

So in 2021 I have decided again to do this. I will be making donations on behalf of family, friends and staff to HADA and other charities instead of giving people more ‘THINGS’! I think most of the people I know have plenty of ‘things’ – I also love getting ‘experiences’ now rather than more ‘bits and pieces’, but the experience of giving to others who do not have much is also very worthwhile. There is lots of inequity in the world and this is a small something I can do and may I suggest that if everyone thought about a $10 donation to their favourite charity and reduce the cost of the present you are buying for friends and relatives by $10 it would be a win for the charity such as HADA and a win for the ‘feel good factor’. If you are donating to HADA, then make sure you stipulate that it goes to Medical Training in Africa and Asia as this is the work that Judith and Hannah do. 

Over the Christmas break, my son gave me a very long podcast by Sam Harris #228 Doing Good to listen to which was totally worth it- but you need to put aside quite a bit of time to listen to it (104 minutes). In this episode Sam Harris talks with Will MacAskill about how to do the most good in the world. They talked about Effective Altruism using evidence and careful reasoning to decide what to do with donation money and suggested that there are some charities that really make a difference in the work they do – things like providing nets in countries where malaria is rampant actually saves thousands of lives. Sam also recommends reading Doing Good Better book by Will MacAskill.  

Another way of ‘doing good better’ is if you are young and contemplating what career path to take for the rest of your life, Will MacAskill talks about how important it is to give significant thought to your choice of career in order to make a difference in your impact on issues that affect the world. He suggested checking out the Eighty Thousand Hours website .

The other interesting comment in his podcast was – if you were asked what salary would you have to earn to be in the top 5% of the world’s salaries? Would you think it was $50,000? I didn’t. But if you just earn $50,000 per year, you are in the top 5% of global earners (most people would not comprehend that). Many people in many countries live on the equivalent of $2 per day.  So the richest people in the world are many times richer than the poor. People earning professional salaries in countries like the US and Australia are usually in the top 5% of global earnings and sometimes in the top 1%. This gives them a disproportionate ability to improve the world. We just need more people to embrace it.

Just a thought for 2021.

So my important 2021 New Years Pledges are (you have more chance of fulfilling them if you say them out loud):

  • More donations, less things
  • I am going to try and go 95% vegetarian (it’s going well so far)
  • Exercise is going to be upped in 2021 – ‘Rona really messed up my gym routine last year.

Life-saving mosquito nets to prevent malaria