While you’re shopping…
So somewhere around my senior year of high school I ran across a New York Times article called The Women’s Crusade. It was all about how if we want to encourage development in areas like Africa and Latin America, the Middle East, etc. we need to invest in women. We need to educate them, provide them small job opportunities, give them economic power within households, and just empower them to be able to make decisions. Reading it, I felt like someone had reached inside my brain and written an article explaining everything I believed but just couldn’t articulate. Mostly it talked about what I wanted to work with as a career and what I was so passionate about. And that is how I fell in love with Nicholas Kristof.
I bought his book, Half the Sky, which changed my life, and started reading each and every Op-Ed he ever writes (I still do, as you can probably tell considering he has his own category on my blog!). I also started keeping myself abreast of the major organizations that he mentions, and have donated to a few of them since. My dad was getting really into him at the time too, so we started a tradition of making donations at least around Christmas time.
And we plan on doing it again this year. But it’s always hard, I never know which organization I want to choose, which one will really use my money efficiently and how I can get my money to the people it’s meant to reach, and not in the hands of some so-called philanthropists. And every year, we rely on Nick’s (I like him so much I like to pretend we’re on first- name terms) yearly Op-Ed about which organizations to choose. This year’s article, Gifts of Hope, has a great list of organizations.
I’ve donated to CAMFED before, an organization dedicated to educating girls in Africa, and also to CARE which fights women’s poverty around the world. But today I’m going to try to stick to the theme of this blog, and I’ll provide you with some organizations about Haiti and Women’s Health (mostly taken from Kristof’s columns):
Fonkoze is a terrific poverty-fighting organization if Haiti is on your mind, nearly a year after the earthquake. A $20 gift will send a rural Haitian child to elementary school for a year, while $50 will buy a family a pregnant goat. Or $100 supports a family for 13 weeks while it starts a business.
And then of course there’s Partners in Health, an organization that has been in Haiti forever, run by the famous Paul Farmer. They are a well-established organization well-known for being one of the first to work with Haitians and employ mostly Haitians. Interested? Check out Tracy Kidder’s wonderful book about it, Mountains Beyond Mountains for a Christmas present. The history of the organization is fascinating, and learning about someone as crazy/brilliant as Farmer is as entertaining as it is inspiring.
The WorldWide Fistula Fund and the Fistula Foundation, are dedicated to correcting a childbirth injury that is one of the worst things that can happen to a person: an obstetric fistula. This is an internal injury that leaves a girl or young woman incontinent, leaking wastes, scorned and ostracized.
The Nurse Family Partnership Program is a stellar organization in the United States that works with first-time mothers to try to break the cycle of poverty. It sends nurses to at-risk women who are pregnant for the first time, continuing the visits until the child turns 2. The result seems to be less alcohol and drug abuse during pregnancy, and better child-rearing afterward, so that the children are less likely to tangle with the law even years later. A $150 gift provides periodic coaching and support for a young nurse by a senior nurse for a month.
Sometimes it can seem like a big commitment, that this year really isn’t the year to be donating money. But let me tell you, every year is the year to donate just a bit, and I a $25 donation will really make you feel great, and could be substantial enough to someone else. Just do it!