Support a Worthy Cause – Hands Across the Water
I remember waking up on Boxing Day almost ten years ago to the news of the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami. Along with Sri Lanka, Indonesia and India, Thailand had suffered one of the deadliest natural disasters in recorded history. That morning my mother had the TV on and her and my sister were sitting with a cup of coffee and taking it all in via our local news channel. I joined them. To try to relate to such a catastrophic event from the other side of the world where instead of ruined houses and flooding we had snow and hot coffee seemed surreal. And yet, despite the differences in country and culture we felt it. The whole world could feel the tragedy of such a horrific event that had killed somewhere between 230,000 – 280,000 people.
Peter Baines and Hands Across the Water
Like us, Australian Peter Baines was also deeply affected by the disaster – not surprising considering that he was heading up the body identification team. The harrowing job put him face to face with victims and survivors of the natural disaster. Despite his 22 years with the NSW police and his work leading teams in response to acts of terrorism and natural disasters, he wasn’t quite prepared for how profoundly influenced he was by what he saw and the people he met. Baines and a friend established the non-profit charity Hands Across the Water in 2005 with the aim to help displaced children who now found themselves orphans.
Since its inception Hands has helped hundreds of children from the disaster as well as countless more who have found themselves in vulnerable situations. Currently the organization is housing 74 children and 12 babies at the Baan Tharn Namchai orphanage. They’ve also done something incredible; they have eradicated the number of AIDS-related deaths from a previously staggering average of one a month to zero.
With $7 million raised to date, Hands Across the Water is one of the rare finds where 100% of the funds raised actually go towards the children and community. The funds have gone towards building projects across Thailand, including two orphanages and a rubber plantation to promote self-sustainability. Baines also does something truly unique – he takes donors on bike rides through Thailand so they can see exactly where their money is going. The fundraising project, known as The Big Ride, requires participants to raise $10,000 for the charity. The first bike ride was held in 2009 and was a smashing success as participants raised $178,000 for the children and cycled 800km from Bangkok to Khao Lak. Hands Across the Water now holds two 800km rides each January.
In 2009, Hands Across the Water reached another landmark when they created a centre for girls in an effort to help victims escape forced prostitution and child labour. Child prostitution, particularly for girls, is a growing issue in Thailand, especially when you consider the fact that the amount of Sex Trade Workers with HIV is currently estimated at a staggering 36% , making young and virginal girls more appealing and more vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.
Peter Baines has received multiple awards throughout the years for his charity work, not least of which being the Humanitarian Overseas Service Medal, making him the first NSW Police Officer to be honoured. Baines also works as an inspirational speaker, largely focusing on corporate organizations, speaking about leadership and corporate social responsibility. Check out some of his past work through his Youtube channel. You can also check out Peter’s book of the same name as the charity detailing his early experiences from forensic detective to charity founder.
How to help or get involved with Hands Across the Water
To learn more about Hands Across the Water and the amazing work that they do, please check out their Official Website and spread the word. If you would like to get involved, check out the Get Involved page where you can donate funds or sponsor a child, host a charity event or lend a helping hand with their volunteer programs. You can also get involved in their Fundraising Bike Riding events – sponsor or sign up for the 2014 Big Ride (registrations open on 28 February 2013) and go on a rewarding and amazing journey.