September 5 is designated by the United Nations (UN) as the International Day of Charity. The date was chosen to commemorate the works of Mother Teresa of Calcutta. She received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 “for work undertaken in the struggle to overcome poverty and distress, which also constitute a threat to peace” (Wikipedia, 2021, para 3).
The UN has recognised the immense challenge in alleviating world poverty for the world’s most vulnerable populations, and in supporting its companion, sustainable-development, to keep poverty at bay. Charity from all levels – governments, corporations and individuals – is necessary to achieve this.
Charity has changed in focus over my lifetime. It used to be the case that a well-to-do-person/country/organisation would decide what was needed and supply it to the people in need, whether it was truly what was required or not! This was extremely patronising and disempowering for the recipients.
Nowadays, the recipient population is much more involved in determining charitable donations. You will often see comments encouraging travellers to firstly contact the organisation they are going to visit to determine if, for instance, crayons are what are required, or are coloured pencils preferred as crayons tend to melt in high temperatures. Is a cash donation preferred over food, as organisation overheads (water and power, rent etc) still have to be paid? Is adult, rather than children’s, clothing needed at this time? Yes, it is still charity, but charity wrapped in dignity.
The Cre8ive Artisans Pod supports this approach whole heartedly, along with companion sustainable-development activities. In supporting the Siem Reap Food Bank, we are providing daily sustenance, to keep our Cambodian friends out of starvation’s way, so they can take advantage of the economic turnaround post-COVID when it comes.
Our support to the Ability Fair Trade Village keeps artisans stocked with the resources to make their artwork, so they will have products to sell and thus maintain their independence. Earning a liveable wage enables the artisans to take control of their lives, boost their self-esteem, and become recognised as valued members of their communities. A hand up not a handout, as we say.
Charity is a form of philanthropy which, as research shows, has immense benefits to the giver as well. As an action, it helps to build cohesive and resilient societies and spreads inclusivity. In our case, we support the call by the Cambodian artisans to focus on their ability, not the disability. A disability is what they have, not who they are. The artisans stories on my blog demonstrate who they are, and their determination to succeed.
Jenni and I encourage you to give consciously to causes you identify with, both within Australia and overseas. If you can support the Cre8ive Artisans Pod, in its endeavour to support artisans living with a disability in Siem Reap, we would be overjoyed. You can make a donation to either Ability Fair Trade Village or Siem Reap Food Bank. Or, if you buy product from the CAP Shop, you will be supporting both WA Artisans and our friends in Siem Reap – win-win!