When Karratha mum Julia Garland decided that she needed to spend time following her own passions after years supporting her family, she didn’t do it by half measures.
Rather than plan a relaxing jaunt to London or Bali, Julia will instead fly to the Philippines next March.
There she will join a group trekking a 2500m-high volcano and visiting Philippine women, who wish to start their own small businesses with the help of microfinance loans from non-government group Good Return.
To take part in the trip, Julia needs to pay for her own travel costs in addition to raising $4000 for Good Return – a target she has already passed, having collected more than $5000 after months of fundraising in Karratha.
Julia said the $4000 raised by volunteers like her enables Good Return to provide business training to approximately 50 Philippine women.
“I wanted to find a way to support women and organisations that empower women in other countries,” Julia said.
“And Good Return enables a relatively small amount of money for an Australian to make such a big difference to a woman in another country, who, like me, is a mother just trying to do the best in life she can.”
As a former member of the Royal Australian Navy, it was the economics behind Good Return that appealed Julia’s “mathematical nature”.
According to Good Return, the group lends microfinance loans to women because it has a broad flow on effect to the community.
Good Return said studies have shown that when women take up a microfinance loan and, for instance, start a small shop, they spend the income from their new business on meeting their family’s needs first.
This then directly benefits five people due to Philippine families having an average of five members in the areas where Good Return works.
The non-profit group also said that 99.99 per cent of women repay their loans, allowing Good Return to use the same money to put another woman through a financial literacy program to teach her how to budget and seize on new opportunities.
For Julia, however, the trip has quickly grown to be about more than mathematical impacts – it has also helped her connect more deeply with her own community here in Karratha.
She has met more people than ever due to her fundraising car washes, raffles and market stalls and attracted support from multiple businesses.
One example is that the girls at Soul Café now donate their tips to Julia’s trip.
“Before I started I never thought I had the capacity to raise money like this,” Julia said.
“It was a bit like throwing a snowball down a mountain and it kept growing and growing and it is still going, so that I am not in control anymore and everyone wants to add to it and help.”
One person, especially keen to pitch in and help is Julia’s seven-year-old daughter Nicola, who raised more than $300 through the sale of toys, such as her Barbie dolls.
“She was pretty chuffed that she was able to raise all that money and make her mark,” Julia said.
“And probably I would like to do a trip like this again with her when she gets older because she has been so involved already.”
Julia is holding a fundraising market from 9am this Sunday December 15 at Mystical Avalon Alchemy on Hedland Place, Karratha.
Visit goodreturn.org.au or Julia’s fundraising page http://grphilippineschallenge2014.gofundraise.com.au/page/GarlandJ for more information.