Consider yourself a curry connoisseur? Micro-finance organisation Opportunity International Australia are encouraging you to show off your skills to help people living in poverty start a business.

The Great Australian Curry campaign, which runs over October and November, will see people all across Australia gather together for a “curry night” to support the work of the organisation across Asia.

Curry

CURRIES FOR A CAUSE: People are encourage to hold a curry night with friends or workmates as part of the Great Australian Curry campaign. PICTURE: Musaddique Naina/www.freeimages.com

"([I]t’s sort of investing in the next generation. I’ve heard people say, ‘My husband and I expect to live out our lives in this slum but we don’t want our kids raising their families in this slum’."

- Robert Dunn, CEO of the Australian arm of Opportunity International

Robert Dunn, the chief executive of Opportunity International Australia - one arm of a global Christian network co-founded by Australian David Bussau more than 35 years ago, says that while the organisation has typically held a food-related fundraising event around this time of the year, “this is the first time we’ve put a curry flavour on it”.

A curry fan himself, Mr Dunn says the campaign – which has garnered the support of triple Olympic gold medalist swimmer Stephanie Rice - taps into the Australian love of gathering together to share a meal, whether it’s in a home, a workplace or a restaurant.

It also references the fact that Opportunity International Australia’s focus is in Asian nations such as India, The Philippines and Indonesia, all of which are countries where curry has an important place in the national diet.

And while the campaign aims to raise $150,000 for Opportunity International Australia to use to support the work of it's partner micro-finance lending organisations and enable them to continue their work of making life-changing loans, Mr Dunn says raising awareness of how micro-finance can help people escape a future of deprivation is also a critical part of what the campaign is about.

“One of the key things we want to do is just to get awareness up,” he notes “So, if people who are passionate about helping others...can start conversations about why they do that, that in itself is a win and takes people’s attentions into a world that maybe we don’t think about very often…”

Great Australian Curry

The fundraising part of the campaign could mean people giving a donation when they attend a curry night or donating to enter an event like a ‘curry cook-off’ in which all the guests make and bring along their favorite curry in a competition for tastebuds.

While the timing of the day is linked with the UN’s Eradication of Poverty Day held on 17th October and Australia’s Anti-Poverty Week, from 16th to 22nd October, people are welcome to hold an event anytime over the next couple of months.

Mr Dunn says that the impact of loaning money to someone to start or grow a small business in a poor country – as little as just $70 - can have wide ramifications.

Noting that more than 94 per cent of micro-loan recipients are women, he says the earnings from the business can help not only to feed their families but to ensure their children receive an education.

“If you talk to a woman (who has applied for a loan) and you ask them what their motivation is, they’ll invariably say to educate their daughters or their children,” he says. “So it’s sort of investing in the next generation. I’ve heard people say, ‘My husband and I expect to live out our lives in this slum but we don’t want our kids raising their families in this slum’."

Opportunity International, whose support money is leveraged by its partner organisations to multiply its effect, point out that raising $350 can help five families while raising $1,000 would mean 14 families “can live a better life”.

And, as for Mr Dunn’s favorite curry? He nominates a seafood curry from South India as his favorite. But if you’re looking for ideas, the campaign’s website includes a selection of curry recipes as well as the sides like padadums and, to soothe the throat after those hot curries, traditional Indian raita. There’s also a list of recommended restaurants where you'll find a fine curry in Australian capital cities. Over to you.

~ www.greataustraliancurry.org.au