How Connecting Hands is providing a sustainable and comprehensive approach to sexual slavery and trafficking
By Deirdre Fidge
We all know that donating to charity is the right thing to do. Whether it be buying a $2 pin at the counter of your local milk bar or setting up a direct debit weekly donation to a non-profit foundation, giving makes us feel good because we know we’re helping others. We are constantly told that every cent counts – but where exactly should these cents be going? It has been widely reported that ‘charity fatigue’ is emerging among the developed nations. Charity fatigue (sometimes referred to as ‘compassion fatigue’) describes the overwhelmed feeling we experience by being bombarded by images of suffering and distress.
We log onto Facebook over a morning latte and our friend has posted images of starving children in Nigeria, asking us to click ‘like’ if we disagree with starvation. Our colleagues shave their heads in support of cancer research. As we bustle out of Coles with our environmentally-friendly bags after work, exhausted from the day, an overly-cheerful charity representative corners us to ask us how we feel about AIDS.
These are all important issues to be concerned about, and it’s excellent to see charities finding different platforms to advocate for their cause. However for many of us it can be challenging to decide what charity to donate to when there are so many credible and innovative non-profit organisations, both in Australia and overseas. How can Australia rise up in the list of most generous country giving to foreign aid, alongside Sweden and Norway who always seem to be at the top?
It is important to give to charities and other non-profit agencies that are providing long-term, sustainable assistance to those who need it most. I particularly urge people to invest in organisations that are investing in girls and women, such as Connecting Hands. It has been demonstrated time and time again that investing in women creates a multiplying effect beyond the one individual woman, extending the benefits to her family and community – particularly with regards to education and access/knowledge of basic hygiene.
I feel the work Connecting Hands is doing is so important and speaking to directors and co-founders Kate and Deb reinforces the importance of looking overseas and supporting their hard work. The stories they have seen and heard are truly heart-breaking. As a social worker and feminist, the holistic and sustainable approach of CH really resonates with me – the workers are there to provide help, support and compassion for these girls and women to help them stand and walk on their own.
So what can you do to help? Connecting Hands often have fundraising events so please check in with the website regularly to see what is happening in your area. CH are launching a cookbook on 1st November which is incredibly exciting as it ties in with the upcoming launch of ‘Cafes 4 Hope’ in Melbourne, a cafe where all proceeds will go directly to assist opening a teaching cafe in Cambodia to further assist with survivors of trafficking, creating further education and job opportunities.
It is understandable for us to be overwhelmed and helpless by images of suffering and pain. But instead of feeling fatigued, feel inspired by the meaningful assistance being provided to survivors by organisations like Connecting Hands.
“Decades from now, people will look back and wonder how societies could have acquiesced in a sex slave trade in the twenty-first century that is… bigger than the transatlantic slave trade was in the nineteenth. They will be perplexed that we shrugged as a lack of investment in maternal health caused half a million women to perish in childbirth each year.”
― Sheryl WuDunn, Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide
“If the world was taking care of women, women would take care of the world.”
– Jane Roberts, UNPF