As I sit here at a cafe in Bondi beach... sipping on an almond milk latte.. I am reminded of how lucky and privileged I am; and how most of us reading this are. Warm, safe, content. Because we were either born in the right place and the right time, or are lucky enough to have got to where we are now due to a series of events/choices throughout life.
Scrolling through Facebook, one of my friends shared a video about Syrian people who were asked: "What did the war take from you?". They're holding signs displaying their answers;
The short clip by Act For Peace (www.facebook.com/actforpeace/videos/10154238019423701/) then goes to show images of their home town, which has been turned to rubble. Destructed. This really gets to me. These people have had their worlds destroyed, their homes, families, lives, have been shattered in front of their eyes. And they are helpless.
I couldn't help but think of several people I'd met while travelling, in particular one Syrian man, Alahddin, who I met while in Istanbul, Turkey - September 2015. Alahddin had fled Syria due to the war. He was forced to leave his family, his home and everything that was familiar to him because living in Syria was a constant threat to his life. He told me that he would spend weeks and weeks indoors, hiding, making jewellery (he had a jewellery store in Istanbul and made the most beautiful jade earrings for me as a gift) because there were people outside his home, who would kill anyone who walked the streets. Since meeting Alahddin, I knew that helping people who are less fortunate than me is something I wanted to do. Meeting him also taught me many valuable life lessons about gratitude, sharing, respect and what we take for granted.
This clip moved me, and I felt ready to donate. This is a cause I want to support. I gave $150, (from some of the profits I've made from my art) which could go towards 6 months worth of rations to a refugee, education for four women, and many other causes.. and with the press of a button, so simple, so easy, I took action.
I want to thank you all for your support when it comes to my art - for your advice, words of encouragement, for purchasing and for simply appreciating what I create.
Donating is not the only way to help.. A year ago I would not have been in a position to donate. But considering I have an income, some savings, a beautiful home, an abundance of food and a constant feeling of safety - it is not much for me.
So easy to do, and I feel great for it.
Then I was taken to my 'donation profile', which started talking about the Ration Challenge. (Something I'd never heard of).
Ok, so I got myself into something here. I thought that I was just giving a one off donation, but no... Giving up a few (...a very small thing compared to what refugees go through, yet a significant thing to us) of my everyday things...I'll be living off what they call a refugee pack - 'You’ll eat the same as a Syrian refugee living in a camp in Jordan. Just a small amount of rice, lentils, chickpeas, beans, fish and oil. That’s it. No red meat, no coffee, and no alcohol!' During refugee week (18-25 June) I'm vegan, so I'm also taking the fish off that food list.. (- another privilege - being able to voluntarily cut foods out of my diet and still be incredibly happy and healthy. ***I want to mention that one of the many reasons I'm vegan is because of world hunger - there are millions of starving people on this planet, yet $BILLIONS$ of dollars are spent on food used to raise and feed livestock, for us wealthy people to eat. All of this food for the cows and other animals humans eat, (which destructs prescious land, natural habitats and animals, and the environment) could feed every single starving person in the world TWICE.****** fact: www.conspiracy.com
Back to it - so, no Coffee, fruit, chocolate, juice! No Veggies!!!! .... all the things that I take for granted and absolutely love! This seems more daunting than anything!
I am not to say that I feel like I, or anyone, should feel guilty or stop themselves from treating themselves, we are so lucky to have these things available, and we have worked for them (as well as being incredibly lucky to live here, have the opportunity to work, have these things available and have excess money at our fingertips) so we should be able to enjoy them as much as possible! We do deserve them, as does every single person on earth, but, we are some of the lucky ones that are able to enjoy them... it is good to remember that the 'simple' things are what makes life so incredible, and enjoying them is so important... and rather than taking these things for granted, we should learn to recognise, appreciate and become even more grateful for then.
Gratitude is something incredibly important in my life.. since consciously practicing gratitude for the past few years, my life has changed in ways I can not quite believe...... (I guess I'll talk more about this in another post... but if you are looking for a way to improve your life, or if you catch yourself feeling negative and down quite often - look into changing your mindset and practicing positivity and gratitude. Even start by simply recognising and listing three or more things that you are grateful for each day, It is one of the things that got me out of a 5 year depression, and now, two years later, I feel on top of the world.)
Anyway, I'm sharing this to possibly inspire you to start your own challenge for refugee week, maybe become a little more conscious and grateful for the privileges we have in every day life, or to donate.
I know a lot of people who are less privileged - homeless, financially insecure etc. we are all different people, who are at different parts of our life, we are all in different positions, and there's no expectation for any of us to do something that isn't yet right for us - but doing what you can, and giving from the heart, as well as becoming more aware, is simple and rewarding in so many ways.
If you would like to donate or take part - head here to see my donation profile: https://actforpeace.rationchallenge.org.au/fundraisers/paulaformosa
If you would simply like to learn more, good on you! Here's the Act for Peace website: https://actforpeace.rationchallenge.org.au/
Remember - no amount is too small. A few dollars could pay for a meal, or go towards education for those who arent lucky enough to have it. It could go towards some warm clothes to get children through winter, or towards facilities to help refugees live a better life.
Thanks for reading.
YOU are amazing, and you can make a difference.
Have a beautiful day :)