Monday, July 4, 2011

The Turning Wheels of Change - Guest Blogger, Cate Bolt

I have always said that the best thing about the Internet was the ability it gives me to meet new and interesting people that I would never have had the chance to meet had it not existed. Guest blogger, Cate Bolt is such a person, and if you think she is an amazing woman (she is) wait until you read about her daughter.

Cate Bolt is a mother of 9, writer, humanitarian & social activist. She is dedicated to improving the lives of others through compassion, fundraising, awareness and by motivating others to take action.

She is the President & Founder of Project 18 which exists to raise funds for humanitarian and conservation projects, the first of which was an orphanage in Bali, which is now operational.

Project 18 is currently running Auctions for Education to fund the education sponsorship of children in Bali who didn’t meet the criteria for acceptance into the orphanage but who are severely socially disadvantaged due to their inability to afford to go to school.

Project 18’s youth initiative Planet You works to educate kids in Australia about topics that are relevant to today’s youth market. Researched, presented, produced & edited entirely by young people, the series is fronted by The You Crew – 6-year-old Ailish and 15-year-old Ash.

Ailish & Ash are continuing the tradition and are now official Joey Ambassadors for Australia Zoo’s Wildlife Warriors.

Cate is also the Patron of Cate’s Cause – a national appeal against homelessness. Cate’s commitment to the cause of homelessness commenced when she found her family without a home, living in tents at Christmas time 2009. Her Open Letter to Prime Minister the Hon Kevin Rudd & the Premier of Queensland, Anna Bligh MP, caused great controversy and discussion on the topic of homelessness in Australia.

Cate’s trade-mark shaved head is a result of shaving 15 years of hair growth to raise money for the Leukaemia Foundation’s World’s Greatest Shave in 2010.

Amongst the cause’s Cate is passionate about are:

  • Poverty
  • The Indonesian child sex trade
  • Education
  • Homelessness & housing affordability
  • Empowerment
  • Domestic Violence
  • Equality to special needs children
  • The reduction of non-sustainable Palm Oil production
  • Orang-utan & Sumatran Tiger conservation
On a personal note, Cate is happily married, madly in love with her children and an avid and obsessed “Lostie” (fan of the TV show Lost). She loves chocolate (without palm oil) and cannot live without her one good coffee per day. 

Cate blogs at Cate Bolt - An Ordinary Life.

The Turning Wheels of Change


Right before Christmas last year my only daughter, Ailish turned seven. For Christmas she asked for a bicycle. She’d never really ridden a ‘real’ bike before so I was apprehensive buying a two wheeler and a helmet. As a mother, anything that requires a helmet scares the hell out of me.

We have a large family. Nine children in fact! And Ailish is our only girl. She is the second youngest and by the time she was born I was so desperate to have a daughter that when I got one she was promptly wrapped up in cotton wool, bound by bubble wrap and stored in a cyclone bunker where nothing bad could ever happen to her. I might be over-stating that just a little bit but it’s true to say that when she learned to walk she never fell over because I was always one step behind her and ready to catch her the second she started to waiver. For the first several years of her life she hardly ever cried because she had no reason to. Her every wish was our command.
Her face when she saw her two wheeler bike was worth every cent of whatever I paid at Kmart for the bike, which wasn’t much because I honestly didn’t think she would last long on the bike at all. Almost all of our boys had never really ridden bikes much. They all thought it was boring just riding around in circles and I was a far too protective mother to let them take the bikes out onto the road.
It doesn’t take much to work out that boys and girls are different. I didn’t realise how different they were until Ailish came along. I had been a parent for 13 years, we had seven children, surely there wasn’t much I couldn’t already know. The thing that probably shocked me the most was the noise. Girls make a completely different noise to boys, even when they’re babies! I wasn’t at all ready for that high pitch shrieking noise, whether made in frustration or elation and, seven years later, I’m only just getting used to it now.
To my surprise, Ailish loves that bike more than words can even say. We live on a relatively large house block, with a tiny little house in the middle. None of our land is flat or paved but she can spend hours riding her bike, around and around. Down the driveway, across the front of the house, down the muddy slope which floods every time it rains, through the winter sun on the grass and around the big old macadamia trees, across the car port and back up the steep driveway again.
Watching her reminds me of my childhood. I grew up in a tiny town, there wasn’t much to see or do – except the snow. On the weekends I would take my bicycle, the one we won in a raffle at the local rodeo, up the lane behind our house to the flat cement driveway of the local mechanics shop. In the 70s those things were closed on the weekends so I could ride around in circles, sometimes mixing it up with a figure-eight. And I’d think. I doubt I thought about anything of global importance, unlike Ailish, at seven all I really had the capacity to think about was what my friends were doing on the weekend, the cute boy at school and what I wanted for my next birthday.
Ailish, however, thinks about third-world poverty. She thinks about the impending extinction of her favourite animal the orang-utan. She thinks about palm oil and childhood cancer and asylum seekers. I have no doubt she also wonders what her friends are doing and what she’d like for her next birthday but she gives a lot of thought to much bigger issues than I was ever able to do.
You might think this would be depressing for a child but Ailish doesn’t tend to think of these topics as mountains that should could never dream of riding her bike up. She sees them as a steady slope that might take a sustained amount of energy to conquer but just as she rises out of her seat and peddles hard to get up the driveway, she’s not too scared to have a crack at those problems. Solutions that most adults wouldn’t have the nerve to try.
Ailish has spent much of her school vacation, the bit when she’s not riding her bike, making handmade things to sell in her ETSY Shop. All the money she makes from them she uses to make microloans to women in developing countries to start or grow a business with a view to making them financially independent. Every time she sells enough to make a loan she scrolls through the pages and pages of faces and uses her new found reading skills to see what each of them would like to do. She almost always picks someone who wants to buy pigs, or other livestock and she loves to see where she’s ranked in the world in the “giving” table. Currently – number 21 – in the world!
If you’d like to join her team and make a microloan I think you’d make her bike rides even more exciting. You can find her here.

1 comment:

  1. Wow. Cate is indeed an amazing woman and she is raising an incredible daughter. This post warms my heart!