Blog Action Day: final thoughts…
Posted in humanist, tibet October 16th, 2008 by piablog

Thank you to all of you who were inspired to post your thoughts about poverty yesterday. It was wonderful to click around the blogosphere and read your posts, I could barely keep up with them rolling in. Please click on each others names in the comment section of the post below to check out more of the posts, there are many fabulous ones still to read.

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Katie wrote a rather poignant comment that I’d like to share with you all…

“…I do some days feel down by people I see who feel they can do nothing and thus don’t. We all have something to give. We don’t have to fork out millions and donate funds like some of your fellow bloggers, or volunteer innumerable hours, like me, but we can share the voice, we can be mindful and thoughtful and we can make a difference in all those small actions…”

She nailed it: “we all have something to give”. Think outside the box. Look around your immediate surroundings, look around your extended surroundings, open your eyes. Use what you have. Just like we all started seeing hearts wandering all over the place when it was brought to our attention – those tiny little hearts were there all along. And so is yours. The more you give (whether it be time, love, clothes, thought, or money), the bigger your heart gets.

Image by Anna from Heartland, submitted for My Heart Wanders.

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I have spent many years researching, analysing, and observing our global Human Rights issues, privately. I have been plagued by the question all my life, “what can I do?”. One of my biggest discoveries was the affects of money – when I gave money, I wasn’t able to see the direct results of that money and I found it very frustrating. And then I would receive more newsletters saying the problem is getting worse. How can it be getting worse when I, and so many other people, are continually giving money? Where is it going?

Then one day, being the rebellious girl that I can be at times, I decided to by-pass all those various charity organisations that were not answering my questions, and found a way to send my money directly to a person I wanted to help in India. He was a young Tibetan school teacher and was so very dedicated to his pupils, so many of them orphans, having lost their parents from the hardships of poverty in their occupied homeland. I had visions of my new friend buying his students the pens they needed, the textbooks they were craving. He kept me up-to-date as often as he could with emails and letters, and I spoke to him on the phone a number of times. With his broken English we somehow managed to communicate about deep, profound issues. Then he told me, rather shyly, that a boy had arrived at the school the day before, and he had come all the way from Tibet, without his parents or any family member. He said this boy was so skinny and dirty, and he had no shoes. His only pair of shoes had turned to rags on his 15 day trek across the Himalayas. I could only imagine the state of this young boys feet. My friend apologised profusely, he said “i’m so sorry, but with some of your money I bought him some shoes, I’m sorry, I know you wanted the money to go toward the books but I just had to buy him shoes”. My heart lifted – I had just helped to buy this young boy shoes!!!

Image courtesy of the Art of Peace Foundation.

I could hear the birds singing outside and i asked him to describe his surroundings. I could hear an instrument being played, he told me it was a man sitting by the roadside with a guitar. I had never met this man, my new friend that I was talking to, and I have never ever been to his exiled home. But there I was, in Australia, talking to a teacher in India, and I could feel the power of our communication, together we would be able to make a difference.

My friend had decided that he wanted to start a magazine for his students with the money I was sending. The magazine was to be called THURSTE, and it would be a means for his students to let out their emotional feelings through writing. He explained that most of the students did not have any parents at all, or the parents were in Tibet, now a place they would never be able to return. He said “…they really need a place to express their feelings.” I thought this was such a wonderful idea, and I couldn’t wait to see the first issue and read these students thoughts, feelings, and drawings. I knew this would be a wonderful project because I knew how much writing and creating had, and continues to help me to express my emotions. My friend had had such a horrific experience himself, of being pressured to leave his family in Tibet who were living in extreme poverty, to try to make a better life for himself in a foreign land, and he missed his mother so much but he was too scared to go back to Tibet as he knew the consequences for him and his family.

The first issue of the magazine THURSTE was never published: My friend was found hanging from his tiny room’s ceiling just a few months later.

Image courtesy of the Art of Peace Foundation.

The state of his poverty, and the state of his people and his land, was just all too much for him to bare. It is very, very unusual for a Tibetan to commit suicide. My heart bled.

This was about 6 years ago, and this is the first time I have ever written about it. I had absolutely no intention to write this today, or any day. But when I titled this post ‘final thoughts’, this is what came out. It seems it was meant to be shared today.

It is my belief that communication + education is the key towards a world without poverty. Every one of you who posted about poverty yesterday are huge contributors to the communication part of the equation. And you brought awareness to the fact that poverty is everywhere – in our own homelands, not just ‘far away’. Educating the Western World on the importance of everyone having the right to Basic Human Needs and teaching ways to how this can be achieved, and helping to provide education in the Third World make up the second part of the equation. Please think about this.

Some of the highlights from posts yesterday, as well as my own personal research toward our plight of poverty are below…

  • read about Nobel Peace Prize recipient Muhammad Yunus – an economist and banker who created microcredit and microfinancing which we are all raving about today through organisations like KIVA and the Grameen Foundation. Listen to Muhammad explain the concept of microcredit in his own words here, and listen to microcredit customer Odette tell her story here.
  • Read (and get inspired!) about human rights activist Alison Thompson in Dumbo Feather’s latest issue (17). Alison says, ” You don’t have to have any skills to hand out water or give someone a hug”. Dumbo Feather also has a KIVA team, join up here.
  • Read about Global Studio and the Fistula Foundation through Bricks + Cartwheels. And add Bricks + Cartwheels to your blogroll and RSS feeds, it is such a fabulous blog written by young architects who are helping to make a difference, you can read more about them here.
  • Read about my friends at the TFG (Tibetan Friendship Group) – a group composed of volunteers who provide many educational sponsorships for children. Their sponsors assist school libraries, two hospitals, TB & AIDS care and prevention programs and provide materials for villagers to build latrines & more. The TFG is always in need of sponsors for students of all ages, please click here to become a sponsor. I personally endorse this organisation – I have attended many of their meetings and have met all the members who visit their sponsored children, schools, libraries and hospitals in person, in India, regularly. All of the members are volunteers and none of the money goes to administation salaries. This is quite extraordinary and unique.
  • And on a seemingly side note, but still relevant to the topic at hand, poverty might be a little closer to home than we all realise with the current financial crisis unfolding. Unfortunately the situation is being made worse by bailing out the bankers, instead of intervening in the public interest to sort it all out. I just signed this petition supporting a “buy-in” rescue package instead and it will be delivered to the world’s top finance ministers at the end of the week. Click here to read more about it and if you’d like to sign the petition, click here.
  • ……………………………..

    Thanks guys, for taking the time to read this. And for those of you who do not feel that poverty is an issue close enough to home to worry about, please, think again.

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    13 Comments

    1. sofia says

      what a poignant and sad story that is Pia.
      Some years ago I worked for an international humanitarian organisation for 4 years and although they do a lot there is also a lot that isn’t done well. The bigger they are the less accurate they are too.

      October 16th, 2008 | #

    2. allison says

      Yet another amazing post, so eloquently written, and so very sad, I wasn’t expecting the turn in your story. I imagine that wasn’t so easy to write … on a bright note, signed the petition, I agree, that’s what is so wrong, bailing out bankers like they really need it while planet earth and those closest to it (literally) continue to suffer. Just think they would feel a whole lot better about themselves if they could just climb out of their egos.

      October 16th, 2008 | #

    3. missmilki says

      Oh that was so sad, I’m wiping away the tears now. I’ve been away and totally missed Blog Action Day and am just catching up now.Thank you so much for doing it and for highlighting the things we often don’t want to think about. I often push the poverty and need in the world to the back of my mind because I find it too painful to read stories such as yours and feel so incapable of being any useful help. sometimes its good to be reminded that even the little things we can do may help even just one person.

      October 16th, 2008 | #

    4. Courtney says

      What an incredibly heartbreaking story. Thank you for sharing this, Pia; I am sure that it wasn’t easy. Your huge involvement in Blog Action Day this year is a very meaningful tribute to your friend.

      October 16th, 2008 | #

    5. Charlie says

      That was such a beautiful story. The world felt like a smaller and kinder place yesterday. I had so many visitors to my sites from all over the world and was introduced to beautiful new blogs and people. Thank you again.

      October 16th, 2008 | #

    6. Ana says

      Hi Pia,

      I could not agree more with you when you say that the key to fighting povery is mostly communication+education. I´d say that fighting corruption is also an important thing towards the goal of erradication of poverty.

      My blog post about was exactly about poverty being more than lack of water and food; for me, it is lack of other and better perspectives. It´s in portuguese, and it´s here: http://airdesignstudio.blogspot.com/2008/10/blog-action-day-2008-pobreza.html

      If you feel you´d like it translated, let me know.

      Thanks for sharing your story.

      October 16th, 2008 | #

    7. nadia says

      oh pia, thank you for sharing this very personal story heartbreaking but it is also very powerful in it’s message, when i was young i used to write letters ” under the amnesty international guidelines” thinking that it would change and that my efforts along with the thousand of others would change the course of human suffering forever- I am naive- i know- i was told this over and over again- what you wrote reminded me of who i was and now i sit here just thinking- I am naive for not believing we can.

      thank you pia.

      October 17th, 2008 | #

    8. katiecrackernuts says

      Pia, I am sorry about your friend. I can see their loss has only made your commitment stronger. Thank you.

      October 17th, 2008 | #

    9. Kirstin says

      Thank you so much for your posts Pia, they are so inspiring. And thank you for letting us at bricks + cartwheels know about the blog action day. What a great idea, it’s so amazing to see so many people around the blogosphere all doing something they can do about poverty.

      October 17th, 2008 | #

    10. ailin says

      all i can say is wow. That story is very sad. I agree with everything that you have said. Thankyou SO much for reminding me more about this problem that exists in our world. Communication is the main key to solving this.

      thanks again.

      October 17th, 2008 | #

    11. Bonbon Oiseau says

      This is an incredible heartbreaking honest post Pia. Thank you for sharing it and your views so eloquently. I am so sorry for the loss of your friend. I have seen these same conditions (we spent time volunteering in a few Tibetan orphanages & settlements in India).
      I agree it is through communication and education we will promote a shift in this state of affairs and pass on the ideals of compassion and responsibility within a Western World so focused on personal gain.
      The last few days have been so inspiring reading so many thoughts and ideas about poverty. I am thinking to change course finally and start to take a new direction in my own life. On a very important level Blog Action Day has truly worked! I am excited for all of the unrealized possibilty for the future, that we may learn and pen our eyes.

      I’m going to look at TFG right now.

      October 17th, 2008 | #

    12. ArtShades says

      Thank you Pia for sharing your painful story and for telling me about KIVA – what a wonderful initiative. I have signed up and told many friends about it here in the UK. You have certainly communicated and educated.

      October 18th, 2008 | #

    13. stljoie says

      This morning my husband was to speak at a chuch about homelessness…he is director of a homeless shelter…and found he was to speak to children aged 4 to 14. I asked him what he said and he told me he asked them if they have stuff?, and where do they keep their stuff?…in their room….where is their room?….their house. Then he asked them what they would do if they had to carry their stuff with them all the time everywhere they went and had no place to put their stuff. They understood.

      October 20th, 2008 | #


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