Whitfords ready to crack the hammer for India

29 Oct 2008

By therecord

By Robert Hiini

Whitfords Parish are getting ready to crack the auctioneers hammer to raise money for ‘ragpickers’ in India – women and children who scour refuse dumps looking for discarded items they can sell. 

The auction will take place on November 16 in the parish hall where goods donated by the people of Perth will be auctioned off for the cause.
The money raised from the event will be used by the Branches Project, a non-government organisation working to improve the lives of the poor in Goa, India.
The organisation, founded by Perth resident and former Record journalist, Joanna Lawson, promises that 100 per cent of all money raised will go straight to their food distribution and women’s collective projects. 
In a region where one dollar will buy 2kg of rice and three dollars will buy a pair of thongs to protect the ragpicker’s feet from disease as they sift through rubbish tips, the positive impact of additional funds will be keenly felt.
The auction is being organised by Ms Lawson’s mother Jessie and fellow Whitford’s parishioner Sheila Shannon.
They are still in the process of asking the people of Perth to dontate “items in good condition, gifts and gadgets excess to need.”
This is not the first foray into fundraising for Ms Shannon. Four years ago she helped organise a similar auction for Oxfam at the parish. She was moved to action after seeing a Four Corners documentary on ABC TV examining the humanitarian situation in Rwanda 20 years after its bloodiest days of conflict.
Ms Shannon was particularly moved by the story of a father who carried his dying eight year old daughter for several days without rest to get to the nearest aid camp.
She decided she could do something to help here in Perth, showing the documentary to parishioners and holding a successful auction in the parish hall.
Her fundraising experience in her native Lochwinnoch, Scotland, 28 years ago showed her that auctions are often the most effective and fun way to raise funds for charity.
Asking a local cooperative if she could use a shop they owned, she spent ten days selling items she had been donated only to have her profits dwarfed by a one-off charity auction a few weeks later.
“I thought to myself, that’s the way to go,” Ms Shannon said.
She says that she decided to get involved in the Branches Project after hearing about the plight of the poor in Goa first hand from Joanna and Jessie Lawson.
“I was just touched by what they’re trying to do.”