Down doesn’t have to mean out: How I am giving thanks this Christmas

Tonight, when it’s raining again,16375 of my fellow countrymen and women who have no home, hearth or hope, will be sleeping on a cardboard box on the street. Again. .3750 have their children with them. 

I came perilously close to fear and desperation after I migrated to Australia in 1999. Caring alone for 2 babies after a horrendous marriage breakup and living off my life savings for 14 months while trying to find a job, I have some idea of how easy it is for even talented and capable people to suddenly experience a reversal of circumstances.

Bad things sometimes happen to good, decent folk. These people are not the dregs of society, and there, but for the grace of God, goes I.

And one Nobel prizewinner, seven Oscar winners, one famous psychologist ( Dr Phil), nine best-selling authors, one knighted person, one recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom,( the USA’s highest civilian honor),  one billionnaire, and a number of award-winning actors and artists. This list of 176 world-famous people all of whom have experienced homelessness at some stage of their lives makes for a fascinating read.

Whilst being down on your luck is a profound lesson in humility and personal resilience, there is NOTHING glamorous about it. And there is nothing glamorous about the sleep-out on cardboard boxes that I will be participating in on 30 November with a number of my caring colleagues. We are raising money to buy 500 swags ( backpack style sleeping bags that are waterproof and mosquito-proof) so that a few folks could have a healthier, more comfortable and dignified Christmas this year. I will be live-blogging and tweeting about this experience, so be sure to subscribe here and follow @maverickwoman on Twitter.

How empathy works: Instead of putting others in their place, we must put ourselves in their place.

If everyone reading this post contributes a swag or two in lieu of a Christmas gift to those who really don’t need another thing (one swag costs $68.00), imagine how many people could experience a warmer, drier and more dignified sleeping solution this Christmas? 

Update as at 27 November: This post has been read 5700 times. But only 32 people have made a contribution so far. With 3 sleeps to go before the sleep-out….. Would you be the next one please? 

Pls click through to , to make your contribution, big or small. It will make YOU feel a much better person, and its a great gift to give not only to yourself, but someone in need of your empathy and humanity.

You can read more here about the organisation that invented these award-winning innovative backpack beds (called a “swag” in Australia – yes, as in “Once a jolly swagman” from the famous Aussie “Waltzing Mathilda” song.)

And here’s how it works.





  1. Have received 7 contributions & just passed the $600 mark. Thanks so much, can we go a little more?

  2. You’re wonderful Annalie. Have passed it on to my Facebook/LinkedIn/Twitter contacts. Mxx

  3. Fantastic. I have seen some of these around the AMP building and i think it is a wonderful way to manage a problem. I also find the invention to be very "Australian". SWAGS have been used by Australian bush workers who used to travel from farm to farm and offer their services for more than 100 years. I find it amazing that this can now be used to help the homeless.Great work.

  4. I’ve been homeless myself, for a short period, and this is a wonderful project. I wish I were able to make a financial contribution, but I’m not currently in a position to do so. I’m wondering if I can contribute in some other way. Will reflect and revisit these comments when inspiration has worked its magic. BTW, thank you for making ‘magic’ a legitimate word in business. Blessings, Jack

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