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Mimes pressuring government’s foreign aid commitment

VGen mime protest 2011: image courtesy of World VisionVision Generation will be making themselves seen but not heard across Australia’s capital cities in a mime flashmob on May 26 aimed at raising awareness of preventable deaths in third world countries.

The youth movement connected to World Vision, hopes to pressure the government to honour their foreign aid commitment of 0.5% Gross National Income by 2015.

Jasmine Mikschi, VGen state director, says the silent protest aims to force the government to take notice and deliver foreign aid to save lives.

“It’s a big mime stunt to raise awareness and put pressure on the government because they recently cut their commitment to foreign aid,” she said.

“In the recent budget it was deferred to 2016 but by pushing it back a year you’ve got hundreds of thousands of lives in danger.

“Lots of people are dying on our door step in the Asia-Pacific region and we can do something about that.”

Going National

VGen organisers are taking the flash mob campaign to the national stage for the first time after the debut in Brisbane was deemed successful.

“Last year it was held in Brisbane and there were 70 young people,” Ms Mikschi said.

“So because it was a real big success and got media coverage and had a lot of young people really excited by the issue and coming together in Brisbane we decided to replicate the event on a national level for the first time.

“It was great as so many young people were there from throughout south-east Queensland came dressed up as mimes.

“So black clothes, white faces and big newspaper signs and we met in King George Square and everyone was given an orange balloon.

VGen mime protest 2011, passerby stops to read the signs: image courtesy of World Vision“We did a walk around the city and it really engaged with the public because it’s a very non-threatening sort of way to campaign so we had lots of people in the street, business people going to work, to stop and look at our messages.

Ms Mikschi says that newspapers were used as props to highlight the fact that deaths and suffering of those in poverty do not make the headlines.

“So everyday 20,000 kids are dying in third world country and that rarely makes it in the news.

“Also when the VGenners are traveling to the event on trains or buses they will be using the props and can share the message with the people traveling with them.

Ms Mikschi hopes that this year the Brisbane event will have 100-150 people and 400-500 nationally.

Miming for the voiceless

She says the mime is symbolic of the voiceless people living in poverty.

“We are miming for the voiceless women and children in the world dying of preventable disease and causes, like malaria and dirty drinking water,” Ms Mikschi said.

VGen mime protest 2011: image courtesy of World Vision“Last year the mime was purely focused on the Child Health Now campaign but this year we decided to have more of a foreign aid focus but behind that also protesting against the injustice that every year 7.6 million kids die needless deaths.

“Also every year 340 000 women die during pregnancies from complications in developing countries.

“The thing is we do have solutions to these deaths so we can provide clean drinking water and we do know that by providing bed nets we can prevent malaria, so we do have solutions but there is a lack of funding.

The campaign is also about sending politicians a message that young people care about their poorer neighbours.

“By creating momentum nationally as young Australians we have the ability to make a difference to shape the future and put pressure on the government,” Ms Mikschi said.

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