I donate a portion of my yoga earnings to inspiring projects responding to social and environmental issues with practical, innovative solutions locally, within Aotearoa, and globally.
Local superstars - Coromandel
I live on the Coromandel Peninsula. A beautiful wild isolated place where nature rules and those of us lucky enough to call it home, live surrounded by an abundance of beaches, bush, waterfalls, hot springs and rivers. Below are some innovative local organisations I regularly support who work tirelessly to make this incredible place even more special.
Moehau Environmental Group (MEG)
This awesome group of volunteers work hard to eliminate pests in the Northern Coromandel to allow native fauna and forna to thrive. They have amazing summer programmes for adults and children including meeting kiwi in the wild and native gecko www.meg.org.nz.
Kauri 2000 has planted over 45 000 kauri trees on the peninsula to help reestablish these majestic giants that once dominated our landscape. Donations enable kauri seedlings to be planted and all are welcome for annual panting days each winter www.kauri2000.co.nz.
Coromandel Independent Living Trust (CILT)
An inspiring community organisation working to enhance the well being of those living in the Upper Coromandel Peninsula, through social housing, parenting programmes, confidence building programs in schools, a community hub providing information and services in the centre of Coromandel Town, work and art programmes for people with a disability, a walking track and the Goldmine, a reuse centre saving useful goods from landfill. Some pretty amazing stuff from a tight team of out of the box thinking locals I was honoured to work with before having baby Amira www.cilt.org.nz.
Coromandel Foodbank and Budget Advisory Services
Every year on average the Coromandel Foodbank provides 250 food parcels feeding approximately 350 adults and 300 local children, while the Budget Advisory Services part of the organisation provides practical support on how to best manage finances in this increasingly complex and expensive world. Check out their Facebook page for more info.
St Johns and Coromandel Rescue Helicopter
These services provide a lifeline, literally, to those of us living in remote rural paradise and operate on donations and thousands of volunteer hours each year, www.stjohn.org.nz, www.coromandelrescue.org.nz.
Aotearoa (New Zealand) legends
Women's Refuge provide safe houses, education programmes, information and practical support for women and children experiencing domestic violence throughout Aotearoa. I worked for Christchurch Women's Refuge, the first refuge in the country (now known as Aviva Family violence Services) from 2005 to 2007. It was some of the most challenging and meaningful work I have ever done.
Women's Refuge receive some funding from the government and the rest from sponsors and donations in order to provide the vital services they offer. To donate, volunteer or access support check out www.womensrefuge.org.nz and www.avivafamilies.org.nz.
New Zealand Red Cross
The NZ Red Cross provide first response support during disasters and long term projects to improve health and living conditions for people throughout Aotearoa and the world. I was on several NZ Red Cross governance boards between 2005 and 2008 and got to work with some of the incredible people who turn up at major disasters and war zones to help bring some order and humanity into these extreme situations www.redcross.org.nz.
Since 1974, Project Jonah has been protecting the rights and lives of marine mammals through education, public campaigns and by training hundreds of people all over Aotearoa to care for stranded whales and dolphins. They are the ones who turn up and work day and night at the many strandings that occur in our waters each year, alongside DOC and local iwi. You can help out by donating or attending a Marine Medic Course so you know what to do if a stranding occurs near you. I completed the course in 2013 and it's a goodie www.projectjonah.org.nz.
Festival for the Future
Every September hundreds of social entrepreneurs under 30 who run projects creating positive change in every aspect of life throughout Aotearoa and the world, converge at Festival for the Future for a few days of inspiration, learning and sharing. I taught yoga classes at the 2014 and 2015 festivals and left feeling in awe at the power and talent of this generation rising up in Aotearoa, we are in good hands! www.festivalforthefuture.org.nz.
I worked with Project Lyttelton back in 2005 when things were taking off in this eclectic, vibrant community perched on the hills overlooking stunning Lyttelton Harbour. The community garden, Lyttelton Farmers Market, Summer and Winter Festivals and Timebank (a barter system with time) set up then are flourishing and new projects like the Opshop and Lift library are continuing to make this community a world changer to watch. www.lyttelton.net.nz.
Global change makers
Kiva was founded by Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunnus in 2005 with the simple idea that through the internet people around the world could lend small amounts to those experiencing poverty, war or other hardships to enable them to set up businesses, educate their children, build houses and so on. Money loaned is then repaid interest free back to lenders who can choose to keep the money or relend it. In addition to a loan, borrowers receive business and social service support from local branches of Kiva set up within their own communities.
It's a brilliant microfinance model that has had a massive global impact. In only 12 years Kiva lenders have lent 1 billion dollars to 2.7 million borrowers in 82 countries worldwide. I studied microfinance at university and visited a Kiva branch that I lent to in Samoa in 2012 and was impressed by what I saw. Kiva loans make great presents too as you can choose to dedicate a loan to someone. One year for Valentines Day my husband dedicated a loan to a flower grower for me and I often dedicate loans to my mum on Mother's Day www.kiva.org.
Days for Girls
A donation is made to Days for Girls for every Yoga for Womanhood, hormonal balance workshop that is held. This fantastic organisation provides packs of washable pads and underwear to last for 2-3 years (the equivalent of 360 disposable pads), to girls in need all over the world, many of whom would not be able to attend school without them. The packs are made by volunteers worldwide (including in NZ) and girls and young women in the countries receiving them to earn some income. Education days are provided with the packs which are delivered by local organisations in the recipient countries.
Days for Girls has reached 80 000 girls so far and has the bold goal for every girl and woman in the world to have ready access to feminine hygiene by 2022. For more information check out www.daysforgirls.org.
Save the Children
Save the Children have projects all over Aotearoa and the world to provide practical support for children who have experienced war, natural disasters, disease, violence and poverty. Projects range from a school in one of the worlds biggest brothel in Bangladesh, to give children of workers a chance for a better life, to an education program for parents and children affected by the Christchurch Earthquakes www.savethechildren.org.nz.
Amnesty International fight for human rights and dignity to be upheld all over the world through public campaigns that help change laws, develop new ones and release people wrongfully held in jail. Its hard, necessary and often thankless work that the world is better place for www.amnesty.org.nz.