Baulkham Hills resident Samantha Chivers realised from two recent eye-opening trips to Thailand that one individual has the power to make a real difference when it comes to fighting global poverty locally.
The social justice worker spent two years working on the frontline on the war on poverty in the small town of Sangkhlaburi, six hours north-west of Bangkok.
She remembers vividly the poverty-stricken conditions the town’s people endured and the aid efforts that occurred. “The people living there had some serious nutritional issues” Samantha remembers.
“Part of my job was to deliver the necessary drugs to them, but because of all the red tape and impractical policies, it made it unnecessarily difficult.
“In what should be taken as one small pill to combat Vitamin A deficiency, children had to take up to 8 different pills. It was then that I realised that change had to happen and it had to happen at the top,” Samantha added.
Upon returning home, Samantha joined us here at RESULTS International (Australia). For you who don’t know we are a small but extremely effective anti-poverty grassroots organisation, who influence and inform Australia’s most powerful politicians and key policy decision-makers on the best practices of poverty alleviation.
“When you grow up in Australia and you think of global poverty you have a certain vision of poverty, of small children sitting in a hut with flies on their faces,” Samantha continued.
“While that vision is sometimes true, poverty is more often about having limited choices and opportunities. In Asia it’s more about inequalities within societies. There are a million ways to help, but if you want to make a real lasting change, it’s more effective to meet with your local Member of Parliament and talk about proven lifesaving practices and policies.”
Samantha, and a group of dedicated anti-poverty volunteers, visited the halls of power in Canberra in October last year and met with several representatives of RESULTS electorates to discuss the value of the GAVI Alliance, an effective public-private global health partnership committed to increasing access to immunisation in poor countries.
“The GAVI Alliance improves health systems, and helps cut through all that red tape and deliver the lifesaving vaccines to where they’re needed,” Samantha said.
Due in large part to the tireless advocacy work of RESULTS, Australia invested over $260 million to the GAVI Alliance between 2009 and 2013. With our pledge completed in January, RESULTS is upping its campaign for Australia to show regional leadership and invest in a proven mechanism for delivering vaccines.
“You can make a huge amount of difference with just a small contribution; meeting your MP to go into bat for lifesaving organisations that need our funding, for example,” Samantha added.
RESULTS is creating a new band of poverty-fighting volunteers in Sydney on March 5 at Level 27, Aurora Place 88 Phillip Street, from 5:30pm. The group, who meet once a month, learn about proven anti-poverty practices, write letters-to-the-editor and set up face-to-face meetings with their parliamentarians.
“A lot of people don’t realise that as a constituent you actually have a lot of power to create real change,” Samantha said.
To find out more about RESULTS and the new group please visit www.results.org.au or call 1300 713 037.
Adapted from RESULTS media release March 5 2014.