One of my favourite charities is Oxfam. It’s only one that has managed to get a monthly payment out of me every month for the last decade. My father set up the first ever Oxfam shop in Hong Kong (Not the first shop… just the first in Hong Kong) and every month my payment is in his memory.

By contrast, I find myself heading to Pubcon next week in Las Vegas. Smack bang on he heart of Nevada’s desert – blistering heat and hardly any rainfall. Yet Sin City thrives. The hotels rise out of the ashen ground and water flows from the taps, supplied courtesy of the Hoover Damn.

Compare conditions in the Nevada Desert to those in Ethiopia – taken from the Oxfam blog:

There’s a women standing at the top of a hole in the ground – bright yellow jerry cans and donkeys surround her. There are nine other women down the hole she tells us… forming a human chain to bring water up from the bottom of a cave. They don’t need ropes because, “God has provided a ladder” – a series of rock-formed steps.

They walk all day to get there. They break their backs carrying the water back.

Living in these conditions, how can you expect Ethiopia to compete on a world stage? they can’t.


So I’m going to Vegas and I have a fun packed week of meetings and presentations. I’m also going to enter a poker tournament.

But when the tap water starts flowing like a little miracle out of the taps, think about the miracle that “God has provided a ladder” to the ladies of Ethiopia.

Charity shouldn’t always start at home… it should sometimes start as far away from home as is humanly possible. I looked at Oxfam’s accounts once, and found they were one of the most efficient charities in the world at getting the donations through to front line services. Can you help them? Not even to build the Hoover damn. The ladies of Ethiopia would just be happy with a water carrier like this:


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