Saturday, June 26, 2010

Making the World A Better Place

Do you ever wonder "What can I do to make this world a better place?"
If you are one of my regular readers, I am sure you will answer 'yes' to this question. Perhaps you donate a certain amount of money per year to charities?
Maybe you participate in sponsored events (e.g., walk to cure cancer) to raise money for a cause? Do you sponsor a child in a developing country? Do you donate blood? Do you foster or mentor a disadvantaged child?

I am fascinated by what people choose to do. Please share with us what you do, and why you chose your particular cause...

I admire my Canadian friend Heather for her work in a charity called FreeSchools, which raises funds to build schools in India and Thailand. Freeschools focuses on educating girls in particular. Families tend to prioritize educating their sons only, but educating girls leads to improved outcomes for the whole community in area such as health and hygiene. Heather and her 9 year old daughter Hayley travelled to India in early 2010 to visit the schools personally, so they could give a first-hand account of the benefits when fundraising back home.

One charity I recently discovered is the Blacksmith Institute, which raises funds to fix grossly polluted environments in developing nations. One typical example is lead poisoning in Nigeria. A gold rush in Nigeria has resulted in people processing gold ore in their villages. Unfortunately, lead is present in gold ore, and the processing released it in the form of lead dust. The lethal effects of the lead only came to international attention when an immunization campaign discovered that several villages had no children under 5. They had all died. Today the Blacksmith Institute is very busy cleaning up the lead pollution, and working alongside Medecins Sans Frontieres to give urgent treatment to the surviving children, to remove the lead from their blood.

The reason I like the Blacksmith Institute is that they provide practical, cost-effective solutions to pollution problems. Many of the problems they encounter with would never be tolerated in our Developed nations, or at very least they are a thing of the past, thanks to campaigners such as Ellen Brockovich. In Developing nations it is often ignorance, not simply greed, that leads to tragic mistakes. One of the ways the BI acts is through educating the local people on new, safe ways to operate in their environment. You really have to admire that!

Click on the links if you want to check it out. I am most likely going to do something to raise money for this organization. Haven't decided what, just yet. But it will be something... Should I busk for money by playing my trumpet? That way, I would get to practice AND raise money at the same time...

What do you do, to make the world a better place? I'd love to hear it...


  1. i don't litter. well usually.

    smiles, bee

  2. I spent two years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Chile, but I am not sure that counts. People don't necessarily want outside help. Plus I did it for adventure. :)

    I read to little kids at a preschool. They are poor kids from the inner city. The purpose of the program is to develop a love of reading at a young age, which, one hopes, will help them stay in school and eventually become productive citizens.

    I also volunteer at a church shop that sells crafts from the 3rd world. The profits are distributed back to the countries whence the crafts.

    I occasionally cut the grass and mow the lawn of my elderly neighbor. :)

    And, of course, we are trying to tithe with our charitable contributions, although we are not quite there yet.

    (And I don't litter, either.)

  3. ::waving my hand:: I don't litter either. :)

    My favorite charities are The Lupus Foundation and Alzheimer's - both work to find a cure for those diseases and provide support to people suffering from them and their families. And of course we tithe at church.

    Your post is very inspiring - that is so sad about Nigeria - I am going to click the link to learn more. Thank you.

  4. I also don't litter and often pick up other folks litter--most years I have worked on a Habitat for Humanity house and have been on mission trips to Central America. Locally, I volunteer in our schools and am involved in environmental issues.

  5. I tend to be of the mind that these small concerns are the ones that do the most good. They tend to concentrate on one thing and stay out of the public eye because their causes are not "sexy" enough to attract the big name stars. Yet they spend their donations on actually solving problems rather than throwing parties for well-heeled celebrity spokesmen.


  6. Wow, I had never heard of the issue in Nigeria. No children under 5! That's crazy. It's good that you are trying to help these causes!

    I wish I could do more. When I had a job I donated to Children's leukemia foundation and a local church that helps feed/house the homeless. The ASPCA when I could...

    Now with no money, it's harder to feel like I am helping... but I try.
    Our house recycles all paper. Also cans and bottles. (our state has a deposit on the cans/bottles though, so I'm no saint- I just want my money back LOL... but I think I would anyway :) )
    I've always practiced all the energy saving tips, like not keeping the water running when doing dishes/brushing teeth ect, turn the lights off, that kind of thing. We don't use things like styrofoam plates/plastic silverware. Mostly because I am cheap, but I like to think it's helping :)
    Of course I NEVER litter, and get pissed when I see others doing it.

    Oh, and I'm in the world- that makes it better right there!!! LOL!!! haha Just kidding ;)

  7. For twenty years I was Co-Chair of a big AIDS Benefit here in Los Angeles beginning in 1987...And really functioned in every area of the 'event'....It was very very gratifying. I was involved in some other Charity work too, over the years. Back in the day, I helped put in a Beautiful Cactus Garden at one of the AIDS Hospices---I'm happy to say, those places are not needed anymore for people with AIDS because it is a fairly manageable disease now, but that Hospice is being used for other important things presently...Now that I am confined to me home for the last 5 years, my energy's have been reduced in that area because of not being able to go anywhere. But, I do give money to quite a few smaller Charity's. I feel like the BIG ones--Red Cross, Cancer Society, Etc., don't really need my little bit of support, but organizations like Doctors Without Borders, do. And locally there are some Animal Charity's I support, too....People who are dedicated and do great great work on behalf of Animals.....Plus a few others that, again, I feel need my support to continue the dedicated work they do, but don't have the Big Bucks. I think being of 'service' in whatever way you can is a deeply gratifying thing to do---knowing you are helping people in need, is very satusfying on so very many levels.

  8. Wow!!! I am SO glad I opened this topic! You guys are amazing. Peace Corps does too count, Annette. Randall, like you, I prefer charities that can show a high proportion of their funds are going to help the actual people in need, and low admin costs. I am proud to be with you all. You non-littering, house-building, homeless-sheltering, AIDS-hospice building, medical-research supporters you. MWAH!!! xxxooo

  9. I think we all like to do what we can. For the environment, I try not to drive too much, and I recycle. I have walked two and crewed one Breast Cancer 3 Day event. For those events, I've raised thousands of dollars for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. I routinely donate money to Doctors Without Borders. I have bought chickens and sold a pregnant cow to my sister (after plying her with wine) for Canterra Nicaragua. The chickens and cow went to women in Nicaragua who use the animals to step up out of poverty. THough our motives were initially selfish, we turned our own home into an assisted living situation for our youngest child. We moved out and 3 women moved into our home. We have provided a sustainable living situation for 3 other mentally impaired women who had never had the opportunity to live away from home and the opportunities for those families to live without having to be 24/7 caregivers. Every time I start to miss that house, I remind myself how normal my life is now and how well my own daughter is doing these days.

    Thanks for posting this Michaela. It's heartwarming to see how much good is going on out there on a small, but meaningful scale.

  10. In the past, I was a volunteer Big Sister and also helped to set up a free career center. These days, I give free resumes critiques once a month at my local library. I'd like to transition to a career where I could help people more.

  11. I have a sponsored child with World vision and have done other volunteer work for them such as chaperoning 30 hour famine. My sponsor child lives in Haiti. I have choose this charity because the bulk of the money does go to the care of the child and the whole community does benefit. My daughter also does volunteer work for World Vision. She just returned from a trip in El Salvador where she helped build a home for a family. When volunteers go out on a World Vision trip they must cover the expenses themselves. I am glad that she went as she got to see first hand at the difference that is made. I do not think that there is anything wrong in supporting a big name charity. It means that they have the ability to make a huge difference to many people.

    I have volunteered many hours at my local church and in para church activities. I have been Sunday school teacher, youth leader, mission coordinator, fund raiser and janitor. There is no job too big or too small. They all matter.

    It may seem at times that what we give and what we do is insignificant when we compare it to how much hurt and need there is in the world around us and it can be easy to lose sight of the big picture which is as every person does their part and gives what they can and where they are the world does become that much of a better place.

    Kudos to each and every one of you. You do make a difference.

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