Unstoppable when we work together: 2019 highlights

24 December 2019

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We’re unstoppable when we work together.  In a world that feels increasingly divided, what we’ve achieved this year is proof that when we come together to speak up and take action big changes are possible.  

From helping refugees get what they need to survive to supporting communities on the front line of climate change to protecting people whose rights are being threatened, together we’ve made a massive difference in the lives of tens of thousands of people. We’re not going to stop!

The work of our local partners around the world is made possible by committed individuals, just like you, who share a vision for a fairer, more connected world.

You pulled together in so many different ways. By donating, advocating, volunteering and participating in whatever way you could, you helped to achieve safety, justice and dignity for people affected by conflict and disaster. 

Here’s what we achieved together in 2019:

Together we defended human rights in the West Bank and spoke up for justice


Under Israel’s occupation, Palestinian people face daily harassment, demolition orders on their homes and restrictions on moving around.

You supported volunteers - called Ecumenical Accompaniers - to travel to the West Bank to document human rights violations and gather eyewitness stories – stories that they brought back to share with people in Australia to help raise awareness.

There are seven possible placements in Palestine including Hebron, Jordan Valley and Bethlehem. Each location is different and comes with its own set of challenges and rewards.

Each volunteer spends three months living and working alongside families living under occupation. They monitor checkpoints, accompany children to and from school and support acts of nonviolent resistance alongside Palestinians and Israelis.

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Volunteers monitor checkpoints and offer basic support to anyone denied passage, including providing contact details to organizations – international, Palestinian, and Israeli ones – that can give practical support as necessary.
The program brings together people from across the world, from all walks of life, all different life experiences to come together to support communities in the West Bank. It’s an international effort of solidarity which I find very inspiring.
Gerri, past Ecumenical Accompanier
Meet some of these volunteers from previous years – they are just everyday people who saw an injustice and decided to do something.
 

Together we inspired a worldwide movement taking action for refugees

The Ration Challenge started six years ago when 100 dedicated people in Australia got behind an idea to eat the same rations as a refugee for a week – just a small amount of rice, lentils, beans, chick peas, flour and oil – to raise money and awareness.

Inspired by people in Australia, the Ration Challenge has now become a global community of people taking action for refugees. People worldwide taking the challenge helped to provide refugees with urgent food, medical care and education and sent a message of solidarity that we stand with them, united.  

41,689 of you signed up to take the challenge across Australia, the UK, USA and New Zealand. You raised an incredible $4.8 million - enough to feed 17,518 refugees for an entire year!

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Tens of thousands of people in the USA, UK and New Zealand and Australia shared their Ration Challenge journey online and helped to open people’s hearts and minds to what refugees are going through.
I signed up for the Ration Challenge because I was sick of feeling like I couldn't contribute to making people's lives better. I knew by taking part, I could not only effect positive change, but also bring about the conversation of refugees and raise awareness of the conditions they live in. 
Rebekah, Sydney
It’s not been nearly as easy as I thought it would be. We’re so lucky to have what we do and it should be our responsibility to help support those who have been left with nothing.
Megan, United Kingdom

… students across the country took action for refugees too!

Thousands of students across the country took up the schools version of the Ration Challenge. They learnt about refugee issues in the classroom and lived on refugee rations with their classmates for either three or five days.


Passionate young leaders taking the Ration Challenge raised an incredible $320,000 for refugees!

Young people have always been at the forefront of social justice movements. From climate change to human rights to refugee issues, this year we witnessed the power of millions of young people rising up to fight injustice around the world.

As well as raising vital funds, young people spread compassion. Read the heartwarming messages these Ration Challengers wrote to young Syrian refugees in Jordan.

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Sometimes it’s easy to forget that we live in the same world. Yours and mine seem so different – through both distance and experience. But the thing is we do live in the same world – you laugh like me, you smile like me and you cry like me. And we both share one thing – hope. We care and we are trying to make change.
Jemima, Sydney
I could never imagine myself going through what you’ve suffered. I would never be able to cope. You’ve shown you are brave. You’ve shown you can fight. You’ve shown that no matter what happens, you’ll push through and find a better life for yourself and the people you love. I believe you can do anything.
Kayla, Sydney

Together we brought Buckets of Dignity – containing essential women’s hygiene products – to women and girls living as refugees

In emergency situations, female hygiene is often overlooked. Women and girls in refugee camps often lack access to basic hygiene – such as pads or clean underwear. This is the situation facing thousands of Rohingya women and girls who are living as refugees in Bangladesh.

We hoped to reach 3,000 Rohingya women and girls with dignity kits containing simple but essential items including underwear, reusable sanitary cloths and soap. Thousands of people across Australia chipped in and raised well over the target!

Target: 3,000 Buckets
Reached: 3,783 Buckets

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Ayesha, a Rohingya refugee from Myanmar, in Jamtoli camp after receiving a dignity kit containing reusable sanitary cloths, underwear and soap. Richard Wainwright/Act for Peace

What’s in a ‘Bucket of Dignity’?

While they contain many of the same simple items you or I might use every day, when you’re living in a refugee camp where resources are limited, each item is precious and has a special purpose.

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Together we supported farmers on front line of climate change

Hunger is one the most pressing human health concerns of the climate emergency. In Zimbabwe, climate change induced-drought and changing rainfall patterns are wiping out crops and killing livestock. Millions of people are facing starvation.

You supported a grassroots fight against hunger by equipping farmers with the skills and knowledge they need to become resilient in the face of a changing climate.  With your help our local partner in Zimbabwe trained farmers in new ways to plant, mulch, irrigate their crops and keep what little moisture there is in the ground. 

Thanks to the simple but innovate techniques they learned through the Conversation Farming program, farmers are now growing enough food to feed their families despite the ongoing drought. 

There are so many benefits to Conservation Farming.  It uses fewer fertilisers, has smaller carbon footprint than other methods, and by planting seeds directly into the soil and removing the need for backbreaking ploughing, it is far more accessible to women farmers.

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Priscilla working her harvest which is thriving thanks to the techniques she learned through the Conservation Farming program. Joel Pratley/Act for Peace
Conservation Farming is the difference between giving someone a fish, and a fishing rod. Now I eat almost all the foods I like.  I can send my children to school and I am sure they are going to lead a better life.
Priscilla, a Conservation Farmer in Masvingo

Together we pledged to find bold, new solutions for refugees at the Global Refugee Forum


The Global Refugee Forum - the first-ever world meeting on refugees - was held in December and came at the end of a tumultuous decade in which the number of people fleeing conflict, disaster and persecution exceeded 70 million people worldwide.

We joined more than 3,000 people from the international community, including approximately 70 leaders with living and lived refugee experience, to come together to find bold new solutions for people uprooted from their homes and fairly support the host communities where they live.
  Through your support, we pledged to strengthen the rights of refugees and promote their leadership, and helped to bring the voices, expertise and rallying cries of women and men with living and lived refugee experience to the forefront of decisions that affect their lives. See all the 770 pledges.