So, this is just an update to let you know that - because of my shocking technology skills - this will be where my blogs will be featured from here on out.
For the moment, while I work on the huge ranting blog about politics and society and whatever else my brain is punishing itself with currently, I'm sitting on a verandah in Cairns.
It's so hot despite being winter. I've just had far too much Pepsi Max. Usually I avoid the fake sugars as I'm pretty sure I'm mildly allergic to them. I put this together because my lips get numb and I usually have a panic attack not long after drinking them... I don't know. Maybe it's a placebo affect from reading one too many stories about the dangers of fake sugars. Either way, my heart is racing and I'm sweating in tropical humidity.
I came up here to help present a small fundraiser for my Mum and her foundation, @BridgIT Water Foundation. If you don't know much about it, please take the time to check out the Facebook page and the website. But, I'll cover the basics for now so I can introduce you to "Walk for Water 100."
BridgIT Water Foundation started in 2009. It was the brainchild of my Mum, Wendy Tisdell OAM. She visited Jamaica and volunteered her time in orphanage. Which, at the outset, was already a kind and gracious thing to do. But she walked away feeling that there was a lot more opportunity to enact change than standing in front of kids who refuse to learn as long as there's a new person in the room. (Look, I've done it. I've done the voluntary orphanage-work thing and I can tell you that if you're volunteering in an orphanage, you are ranked below a sub-teacher. When I did it, somehow the entire class convinced me to let them out at every lunch bell. I didn't know they did staggered lunch breaks for all the classes. I mean, I thought it was weird, but I didn't have much guidance and they thought my accent was way more fun than learning. It's a beautifully intentioned process to undertake, but I stopped working in the classroom when I realised I was probably more of a nuisance than anything else. Anyway, I digress... back to the blog.)
Mum saw beyond the classroom and with a background in a business specialising in irrigation solutions, she was more concerned with the fact that a school with 900 kids probably needed running water. The toilet blocks - which only had 3 toilets for girls and 3 toilets for boys - were in complete disarray. Without running water, somebody was employed full time to bucket fill each toilet after use. Needless to say, it didn't leave a lot of water free to clean the toilets or keep kids hydrated. So the whole thing was a shambles. Luckily, Mum knew that with the expertise of my Daddio and the contacts she had through the pump industry, this could probably be solved quite simply by installing a well, some tanks to catch rain water and some education on how to keep the area in good sanitation.
See, Jamaica doesn't have a lack of water. There are a lot of places that are like this. Water is plentiful, but water catching resources aren't so much. One of the first things we noticed when we got to Jamaica was that none of the buildings had gutters. And gutters are actually super important!
So Mum came home and said "alright, let's do something." And BAM! BridgIT was borne!
To date, BridgIT has installed around 150 wells. It has impacted over 100,000 villagers. Solutions have been implemented in every single continent in the world (except Antarctica). I've had the opportunity to join on many of these projects and the key focus is sustainability and community buy-in.
Generally the foundation operates with the hard work of Mama and the generous inputs from philanthropists all around the world. They are always given the opportunity to see the village they wish to help and Mum always introduces the donors to the recipients.
Well, this year, about 3 months ago, we had an extra exciting thing happen. (Yes, I say we because I take a lot of pride in being a part of the Foundation from the beginning and now in the periphery). An incredible man from Melbourne decided to walk for 100 days to raise money for a cause he believed in. And he chose BridgIT!
Mum had just recently acquired the management rights to a beautiful boutique hotel in Trinity Beach, Cairns (if you're staying anywhere else in Cairns from now on, you're dead to me) and we wanted to have a celebration for Richard upon his 90th day of walking, when he arrived in Cairns!
We held a little shindig at Muddys in Cairns here. It's a beautiful place, just recently got voted the 2nd best family friendly restaurant facility in Cairns! I'd rank it number one, but whatever. The regular musician from the place came in on his day off and set up the audio and played a few songs. And I attempted to corral strangers walking along the beach to come in and donate. Most of all, supporters of Mum and of BridgIT got to meet our newest hero, Richard.
Sometimes I am overcome with the pride and gratitude I feel for my parents. They have made giving and kindness probably my two main pursuits in life. Through example as well as rhetoric. I will never stop thanking my lucky stars to be a part of this family, this foundation.
Look at the link below to see Richard stomping around the place on channel 7.
If we could all strive to exemplify what it is we believe in instead of arguing about it over the internet, we'd probably feel more fulfilled. For every aspect of my self that I dislike, for every broken first impression, every social misstep, I can hold my head high to know that I am attempting to contribute to a legacy of people who try to change things. It's not just Mama, it's Daddio (who still calls me Little Foot - as in from Land Before Time - and is, hands down THE hardest worker I have ever met), my big brothers Haarlen, Ben and Christian. For all of our foibles, we come together to make a family bond that is strong and always better together.
Anyway, my lips are still numb and I'm weirdly emotional. I might try to drink my body weight in water and give my parents a hug. It's the first time I've seen them in months and it's nice the terms on which I'm doing so. Side note, no fights yet!