With natural disasters and poverty confronting us every day on the news, one could assumed we have become desensitised by the harrowing images – but this is not the case. In fact, recent research reveals Australians are highly empathetic toward crises like extreme poverty, wars or natural disasters overseas such as Cyclone Winston in Fiji right now, but many simply don’t know how to help.
The research, conducted by GfK Research and CARE Australia, found four in five Australians (82 per cent) say they care about crises in developing countries, but only 38 per cent are likely to contribute, financially or otherwise, to the cause.
So what’s holding us back from acting on this empathy?
Humanitarian aid organisation CARE Australia found that almost 70 per cent of us feel overwhelmed about the plight of those living in poverty. What’s more is our belief that our contribution won’t make a difference or that our contribution won’t get to those in need.
“It’s not that we don’t care about what’s happening in countries like Cambodia, Vanuatu, or even Fiji, in fact, our research showed that we would act if we knew about the challenges these communities face, how we could genuinely make a difference and where our donations would be spent,” CARE Australia’s Lyrian Fleming-Parsley said.
It is for these reasons that the organisation is encouraging Australians to take part in its week-long walking challenge, Walk in Her Shoes, from 8 to 14 March, as a simple way to get involved, learn about some of the issues and help.
According to Lyrian, women and girls in developing communities walk an average of six kilometres every single day to collect water, food and firewood for their families.
These journeys can be dangerous and they often prevent women from earning a living and girls from going to school.
“By lacing up your runners and going for a walk, you can make a real difference to the lives of women and girls around the world and help them step out of poverty.”
The challenge raises money and awareness for projects that help reduce the distance women and girls have to walk by providing clean water and nutritious food close to home.
South Australian mum and Walk in Her Shoes participant Wendy Hore participated in the challenge last year walking 142 kilometres over the course of the week.
“I wanted to make it a personal challenge as well, because I don’t like doing things the easy way – it only takes about $500 raised to provide a water pump for a community,” she said.
“It’s basically helping women and girls living in poverty, and you are making a difference elsewhere.”
You can walk either 25km, 50km or 100km over the course of the week and join thousands of Australians taking part in the event and aiming to raise more than $1 million for women, girls and communities in developing countries.
Register at Walk in Her Shoes.