As the CEO of Dharma Care and one of its founding Directors, I am very proud of what we have achieved over forty years. And by ‘we’, I mean all the donors and volunteers who have given so much.
We only have to look into the faces of the people we help, young and old, to feel the joy of making a difference to the lives of some of the most destitute and disadvantaged people. For some children we have provided nutritional supplements to prevent stunting, for others education that would not otherwise be available to them, and for others food and health information during the pandemic.
In Australia, we were able to raise AUD10,000 to help families in the Kyogle Shire recover from the bushfires of early 2020. In this case, it was the words that touched us:
“Last year was a year from hell for us… we lost so much due to the drought and then we had the bush fires. Words cannot describe the way we felt, even as I write this email, I get teary eyed because nobody can understand the constant feeling of hopelessness that comes with the realization that everything you have worked so hard for all of your life was slowly being ripped from you. Again, we can’t thank you enough and please pass on our very heartfelt gratitude to all of your kind-hearted and generous donors.”
Our charity was established in 1981 when it purchased a large old home in the suburb of Morningside in Brisbane and turned it into an aged care facility – one that really cared for all aspects of its residents’ lives. That building was later sold to buy 200 acres of land in northern New South Wales and to build a retreat centre – Sine Cera Rainforest Retreat – see www.sinecera.org.au. Over the years, our charity has adapted as it has refined its purpose and impact in the community.
Every organisation needs periodic renewal.
So in 2016 we began another major revitalisation of the organisation. We changed the name to Dharma Care – adopting an ancient Sanskrit word that to us means an obligation to share with others what God (however conceived) has given to us. We also adopted a broader vision: “A compassionate world where all are valued and supported to live joyful, meaningful and sustainable lives.”
We reset our mission: “We help people in need to reach their potential as our expression of love and care for others and gratitude for the gifts we have been given. We do this by building bridges between people who care and people who need. We help those in distress or severe disadvantage by providing charitable services, facilities and safe spaces through social enterprises and public donations. We also collaborate widely, supporting other charities and fostering donors’ trust through professionalism and transparency.”
We also sharpened our focus to work in regional communities – both in Australia and overseas – communities often overlooked by larger, city-focused, charities.
Since 2016 we have supported local and overseas projects with over $80,000 of donations from generous supporters. We are still a relatively small charity, but our donor base is growing and we have exciting new projects in the planning stages.
And so our journey continues. We are still learning how best we can help. We still believe there is no greater gift than giving to others in a world where not everyone enjoys an equal go at life.
In the faces and stories of those we help, we see hope, achievement and the possibility of living a fulfilling life – one in which people can express and share their unique humanity.
If you would like to join us on this journey, either by donating or helping in some other way, please visit our website www.dharmacare.org.au to find a project that touches you, or contact me at email@example.com. None of us was meant to do life on our own.
Irwan Freeman Wyllie, CEO, Dharma Care