The Rice Meal event, held on Sunday February 17th 2013, turned out to be just the luncheon I needed to experience. What was on offer? A glass of water, a bowl of steamed rice, guest speaker presentations and an auction for chicken and cashews with veggies for those who felt one bowl of rice was not substantial enough.
The Rice Meal came about when a few guys, namely Graham Howes, Michael Eefting and Ward Carolan, felt they needed to contribute to something worthwhile whilst running together. After running and discussing world matters, Graham came up with an idea. That being, twenty bucks for a Mars bar and a few speakers. After thinking it over a little more, Graham took the initiative, The Rice Meal was born.
The idea is to assist those less fortunate and gain an understanding of the plight they face. All money raised is to be given to two charitable organisations, The Footmen Club, a local club and World Vision International.
Today's luncheon was the second The Rice Meal event, with the inaugural event, held last year, raising $1880.00. This year, the success of this venture has shown that people will always support a worthwhile cause with $3300.00 raised so far.
Speakers for the day were Tony Wheeler, Co-founder of Lonely Planet Publications, whose book 'Rickshaws' was auctioned during the luncheon. I made several bids for it, but my colleague out bid me for the signed edition.
Tony spoke of his travels around the world, the books he has produced, including Rice Trails, The Lonely Planet Foundation, now known as the Wheeler Foundation, and the projects happening in many countries.
Tony's favourite country, which he visits again and again is Nepal, because of the trekking.
Three places to go and visit according to Tony Wheeler: 1. Inspired by high drama all the time, Antarctica for the colours, conditions and the Antarctica Peninsula. 2. Must visit one big European Capital, Paris, and Venice, Berlin being one of his favourites.
3. Recommended for a good time is Africa. Tony has never, not had a good time in Africa.
Darren Sterling, Head of campaigns for World Vision, was our other speaker. Darren spoke about different types of poverty and what we in Australia view as poverty. He spoke of the philosophy of Ubuntu being a southern African ethic or humanist philosophy focusing on people's allegiances and relations with each other and how he was witness to this unity.
While in Bangladesh, eating a meal with neighbours was most affluent. When Darren mentioned he did not eat with his neighbours they felt great sadness at this loss. Darren remembered his first visit to Bangladesh and seeing his first dead body within 15 minutes of arriving. This is when it became real for him.
He also talked about spiritual poverty in India and how people with little food gave to their Gods and Deities or even to the birds to show their respect. There are schools set up for children like Rubima, a rag picker. Now called recycler as the term is deemed offensive by some World Vision volunteers, these children receive clean clothes, a bath and educational learning and are living a much different life.
World Vision has been helping many communities, but in Northern India, in the Pauri community, a solar water pumping station has been built to assist the people there, as rice is the main crop grown is this area.
Our Toastmaster, Michael Eefting, welcomed everyone and Auctioneer Rob Tait helped to make this event memorable. Maroondah Mayor Local Initiatives with Maroondah, Cr Nora Lamont was due to be in attendance also, but her son sadly had a car accident the night before. I wish him a speedy recovery and blessings to the family.
With the help of great friends and sponsors, The Rice Meal wishes to thank all those in attendance, along with Astas Tandoor and Lindos Café restaurant for donating items for the silent auction. As well as Light FM, 98.1 Easter FM and Maroondah Weekly for promoting the event and Croydon Cricket Club for use of the facilities.
In closing: come next year and join me for a bowl of steamed rice. Think about what it is you are passionate about and follow your heart. And know this, our government shares thirty-five-cents out of every one-hundred-dollar towards poverty.