The Story Behind WellWishers
I have been asked many times over the years, how did WellWishers come about?
I believe we have certain values “inside” us and all it needs is an event to expose them. My Dad died in 1996 and the following year, I walked the Kokoda Track in PNG in his memory, he being there during WW2. It was the most difficult thing – physically & emotionally – I’ve ever done, but also very rewarding. It brought out dormant feelings of social injustice in the world.
Back in Australia, I suggested to Marianne that we should start to divest our assets, for the benefit of others. She wholeheartedly agreed. I firmly believe these assets should be used to assist those in the world with little or nothing, to help provide for themselves.
For us, it’s more important than leaving our assets to our children or family. It’s not their money, nor do they need their lifestyles enhanced at the expense of those who do not even have basic rights, such as clean water or education. We feel that philosophy will ultimately benefit them, as people.
Searching for an organsiation to work with, we settled on Community Aid Abroad (CAA – now Oxfam Australia). CAA presented us with several projects for our consideration; all were very worthwhile, but none ‘pressed the right buttons’. Our requirements were simple – the project must save lives and be of benefit to women & children. Eventually, a proposal for the construction of water wells in Ethiopia’s Tigray province arrived. It took about 5 minutes to realise that this was the one. A Eureka moment! That was 10 years ago.
Good Weekend, Sydney Morning Herald January. 2008
We funded 9 wells in 2002. In 2004, we rallied some friends to help. I became impatient at the slow progress in getting clean water to the people, so in 2006, I decided to build a mailing list. It initially started at 150 to 200 friends, family & colleagues (it’s 1,500 today).
Meanwhile, in 2005, we took the challenging decision to do our best to replace Oxfam Australia who had stopped funding the construction of water wells in Ethiopia. There was (and still is) a tremendous personal connection between Ethiopia and Australia that goes back to the 1970s and 80s, during the struggle against the oppressive Communist regime. We wanted to maintain that connection.
In 2007, WellWishers became a registered Charitable Trust and last year, we became a tax-deductible organsiation in our own right. We are proud of what’s been achieved in the past 10 years but this could never have been done without your support – the supporters of WellWishers. One person (you!) can and has made a difference.
The future? To see that everyone in Tigray has access to the most basic of human rights – clean water. After that, we shall move onto other areas.
Our philosophy is not everyone’s cup of tea, but we have no regrets in dedicating our time and assets to this cause. Our children don’t “need” the money, are not automatically entitled to it and they have been given opportunities that many in the world can only dream of.. It’s a quirk of fate that we were born in our rich countries and that our fellow human beings were born into such abject poverty in Ethiopia, over which – like us – they had no control.
It is for this purpose that Marianne and I have dedicated our assets.