Pedalling Compassion

In April 2008 I escaped Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti, as rioting escalated and smoke from burning barricades filled the air. I was part of a media team travelling with Compassion Australia, there to see their aid work in one of the world’s very poorest nations. We were meant to be there for about a week but were evacuated within 48 hours of arriving due to the rapidly changing situation. Some Haitians had died and many more had been injured. We had been far too close to some of the rioting for comfort.

We had a very difficult journey to the airport and at times we were in very real danger. We finally hooked up with some armed police who escorted us to the airport. We were to fly to Dominican Republic but the flight was cancelled. The airline was not prepared to fly into Haiti. Later that day we finally made it out with another airline.

Haitians were rioting because they had nothing to eat and were unable to provide food for their families. That’s the kind of place that Compassion works.

It Gets Worse

On Tuesday the 12th of January last year a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti, killing around 220 000, injuring more than 300 000 and affecting 3.5 million people. Even before the quake, 86% of people in Port au Prince were living in slum conditions. Compassion was there and continues to work with the people of Haiti.

Something Must Be Done

Haiti is just one country where Compassion is working. All over the world, often in difficult circumstances, Compassion is working to release children from poverty. They can only do their job if we’re prepared to get involved. Since that trip to Haiti our family has sponsored a boy from Haiti through Compassion. It’s a small contribution but we know we’re making a difference.

Let’s Ride

Having seen first hand, both in Haiti and Dominican Republic, how effective Compassion’s work is, I am determined to do more to help. That’s why from the 12th to the 14th of February 2012 I’ll be taking part in the 25000 Spins Great Ocean Road Challenge.

I’ll be riding 290 kilometres in three days and I need your support. By sponsoring my efforts on the challenge you’ll be releasing children from poverty. You’ll be giving children a real chance at life. Please visit my fundraising page and make a contribution. Maybe you can afford to sponsor me for a dollar a kilometre, maybe 50 cents a kilometre, or perhaps you’d just like to donate $10, $20, $50 or any other amount.

When I think of all the opportunities I provide for my own children, I can’t sit back without offering the most basic of opportunities to someone else’s child. My parent’s heart won’t allow me to do nothing.

Do you think some of your friends would enjoy reading Pedalling Compassion? Please use the buttons below to share the post. Thanks.

Give it away

aussie_money.jpgWhat are you prepared to give away? I guess that depends on what you truly value – not what you say you value – but what you really do value.

An Australian academic has just made a pledge to give away half of his lifetime earnings. Dr Toby Ord reckons that his days as a student weren’t too bad so he’s going to continue living like a student so that his money can help make the world a better place.

Dr Toby Ord, a 30-year-old ethics researcher with the Future of Humanity Institute, has agreed to give up 10 per cent of his annual salary, plus any yearly earnings above £20,000 (AUD $35,631).

Dr Ord says if he lives like a student, he should be able to give away around £1 million (AUD $1.78 million).

“My student years were not extravagant, but were immensely enjoyable, with the chief enjoyments such as reading beautiful books and spending time with my wife and friends costing almost nothing,” Dr Ord said. –

That’s a tough act to follow but it really does raise the question for each of us of what we are seeking in life. Are we seeking better relationships and simple pleasures or do we still run after material goods? We might say that money doesn’t buy happiness but do our lives back that up?

I love the fact that Dr Ord has picked up on the fact that the things that give him the most pleasure and give life greater meaning are not things that money can buy. I do wonder why so many of us keep chasing things that we know will never make us happy when the opportunity to enhance our lives and the lives of those we love are already within our grasp.

I need to be honest and say that I couldn’t give away half my yearly earnings. I’m not on an academic’s wage. In fact, my wage looks very much closer to the amount that Dr Ord has agreed to restrict himself to using each year. Out of that money our family supports a number of worthwhile causes yet I have to keep asking myself, should I be doing more? Our standard of living is still extremely extravagant compared to those I’ve seen in places like India, Haiti and Dominican Republic.

The good news is Dr Ord doesn’t expect us all to cut our earnings in half. He’s launching a site called Giving What We Can, encouraging us all to examine what we can be doing to alleviate the suffering of others in our world.

One of the great things about giving money away is the freedom that it gives. It says that my money doesn’t control me – I control my money.

If you do decide that you need to use the resources you’ve been given to create a better life for others there are many organisations doing great work around the world. Let me encourage you to check out Compassion. I’ve seen their work first hand and I seen the proof that the money donors give makes a world of difference. You can visit Compassion Australia or the Compassion International site.

So what do you really value? Think about what truly matters to you, examine the way you’re living, and see if the two match. It’s a challenge we all need to face.

Do you think some of your friends would enjoy reading Give it away? Please use the buttons below to share the post. Thanks.

Compassion Bloggers in India

Hope in CalcuttaOK … I admit it … I’m jealous.

A bunch of bloggers is getting to combine two things that I’m passionate about – India and Compassion.

From tomorrow until the 2nd of May a group of five bloggers will leave their comfortable lives behind to witness firsthand the ministry of Compassion International to the poor of East India. I imagine that the trip will be similar to the one that I took just over a year ago to Haiti and Dominican Republic where we saw how Compassion is making a difference in the lives of those who live in desperate poverty.

I was travelling with Compassion Australia, part of the worldwide Compassion family. What I saw absolutely convinced me that not only can we make a difference, but that Compassion is an organisation that can use our money wisely to see the greatest benefit delivered to each child in their projects. Working alongside the local churches in the areas they serve, Compassion can absolutely guarantee that they won’t use a one size fits all solution. The partnership with the local church ensures that Compassion is dealing with specific local issues and tackling problems in the best possible way for the local people of any area.

As well as loving the work that Compassion does, I have a real love of India.

I’ve been to India twice, once in 2003 and once in 2005. Both times I was there to serve the local Bible Society through Bike for Bibles. I’d jump on a plane tomorrow if I was given the opportunity to visit India again. It’s a country that assaults all of your senses from the moment you step off the plane. It’s full of colour, smells, tastes and incredible experiences. It’s also a place where many are living desperate lives. My visit to one of the slums near Delhi will stay with me forever. I’ll never forget the pride on the face of the man who was showing us around as he pointed out his home to us. It was just metres away from a wide open sewer. The stench was disgusting. He was so pleased that we could see his home.

If you want to follow the Compassion Bloggers over the coming days either click the banner in this post or click here. One of the bloggers I read regularly is Anne Jackson of Flower Dust. She’s one of the bloggers on the tour and you can follow her account of the trip by clicking here.

You may never have the opportunity or the desire to visit a developing country but I beg you to follow these bloggers and try to put yourself in their shoes in the coming days. Let your heart break with the things that break their hearts and let your heart rise as they discover the hope that Compassion is offering in desperate situations.

Do you think some of your friends would enjoy reading Compassion Bloggers in India? Please use the buttons below to share the post. Thanks.

Remembering Ada


I’ve interviewed dozens of famous singers, authors, personalities, politicians and celebrities over the years but if I had the chance to choose one moment from my radio career so far that stands high above the others it is the opportunity to tell Ada’s story.

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been looking back at my visit to Haiti and Dominican Republic with Compassion Australia in April last year. The story of Ada will break your heart then give you renewed hope in the difference that each one of us can make in the lives of others.

I beg you to take just fourteen minutes to listen to Ada’s story.

If you want to hear something to lift your spirits just click play on the audio player at the bottom of this post.

The whole story is worth hearing but I’ll warn you now that it will really start to touch your heart around half way through.

Ada is a girl I met and interviewed in Dominican Republic. She was a beautiful twelve year old with a bright future. I wish I could show you the picture I had taken with the two of us but I prefer to keep her identity somewhat private. You’ll understand why as you listen.

I talked to Ada, I visited her home and talked to her parents. I’m sure that all of us that visited her home on that day will remember the warm hug she gave each one of us as we left. She is a remarkable young girl.

I managed to track down her sponsor in Australia and shared Ada’s story with her. Lisa’s reaction to hearing her sponsored child’s voice is priceless. Hearing Lisa describe how she feels when she hears just how much of an impact she has had on Ada’s life is inspiring.

I don’t know what else I can say but to again beg that you take the time to hear this amazing story.

Do you think some of your friends would enjoy reading Remembering Ada? Please use the buttons below to share the post. Thanks.

Remembering a remarkable experience

This time last year I had just returned from my trip to Haiti and Dominican Republic with Compassion Australia.

The video in this post contains a bunch of photos I took on the trip with the audio of a segment I put together for my radio programme for last year’s Compassion Day.

If you’ve been reading my blog for any time you’ll know that we had to escape from Haiti after food riots in the city of Port-au-Prince intensified. We took a very tense drive to the airport to get out of the country just a couple of days into our visit which was to last around a week. The only way we were able to make it through was that we met up with a crew cab loaded with heavily armed police who agreed to escort us.

While the photos are from both countries, the audio is focussing on the situation in Haiti. I’ll post some audio from a remarkable story that came out of our visit to Dominican Republic in the coming days.

If you get the opportunity to watch the video I’d love to hear your feedback. Please leave your comments in the comments section of this post.

Do you think some of your friends would enjoy reading Remembering a remarkable experience? Please use the buttons below to share the post. Thanks.