Mighty Hearts

April 11, 2013

Tomorrow I will be out on the streets collecting funds for a well-deserving agency that provides front-line services for people who are perhaps in their darkest hours.

Wellington Rape Crisis is an inspiring wee agency, with a mighty heart. They provide free counseling and support to woman and their support people, who have experienced rape and sexual abuse. They work hard to create a welcoming and safe environment for all women-identified survivors.

This work is hard work.

Some days I speak with the staff there and they are fiercely angry because of what their clients have experienced.

Some days they are filled with tragic stories and brimming over in tears.

Some days they are literally roaring with activist energy, marching on the streets, speaking to crowds of people and taking political action.

But every day, every single day, they come to work, they take a deep breath and they open their doors and lives to people and their heart-wrenching stories.

On days when I feel like my job is hard and I’m whining at work about my workload, I remember these women and how everyday their work is, quite literally, saving lives.

And all of this, on a shoestring.

Like so many essential social services, Wellington Rape Crisis operates on a very small and very lean budget. Trust me, I’ve seen their books. There is no fat to trim, there is no budget line that has ‘some room’ in it.

They make every single dollar go further than I thought possible. Nothing is wasted. Wherever possible, volunteers supplement paid work and donated time and goods make a big difference.

You would think that an agency that is literally saving lives, healing hearts and keeps people safe, sane and, incidentally, able to continue in (paid and unpaid) work would be fully government funded. That as a society, we have decided these vital services are indispensable and therefore funded sustainably.

But they aren’t. Barely a third of their annual budget comes from the government. Now I could go on about how that just is not cool, not ok, not one bit, but that’s a different post for a different day.

The short story is that we need to all be part of the solution to this.

Here is how you can help: (not in order of priority)

1. If you can, please donate. It makes a difference, honestly.

Firstly and perhaps most obviously, it helps pay for stuff. Important stuff, like staff time, rent, insurance, comfy couches for clients to sit on, pencils, anything the agency damn well needs.

Your money might pay directly for counseling time, but it might also pay for decent computers for staff because that’s the kind of thing that people need to do this job.

Yes, it pays for stuff, but it also demonstrates in a really tangible way that you appreciate these women like I do.

2.  Collect some money. If you can’t donate money, you could ask other people to donate their money. Do this by volunteering at the next annual appeal. You could ask around, in your office, your neighborhood, on facebook, wherever you socialise and encounter people and ask them to donate.

Collect on behalf of the agency. You could donate twenty bucks or you could ask twenty people to donate twenty bucks. Or both, or ask 20 people to ask twenty people to donate twenty bucks…. you get the picture. Tell them about the agency, the amazing work they do. Convince them that the work is important.

3. Raise some money. Run an auction, bake some cupcakes, make art, grow your beard (honestly, that really did happen), sell something, host a party (they’re fun!).

Do something that in exchange people will give you money for. Give that money to Rape Crisis.

(Ok, I know that point 3 and 2 are really just slightly different versions of point 1, but go with me here)

4. Raise awareness. Tell people about the agency, how awesome they are, the work they do. Remind those around you that agencies like this exist, because the crimes of rape and sexual abuse exist.

This isn’t the only agency out there in Wellington. Sadly there is more demand than one agency can copy with. Most areas have a crisis agency like this. Support them. Wherever in the world you live and you are, find your local group of might hearts and support them.

5. Raise some hell. Challenge rape culture wherever you see it or hear it. As a community we need to STOP turning a blind eye and STOP accepting behaviour and speech that normalises and condones rape, assault and abuse.

We all need to STAND UP for one another.

Join a campaign, educate yourself, get involved.

Do something, you choose what will you do, but

do

something.

Please.

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