Life
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Be Nice This Christmas.

A couple of days ago, I suggested making homemade things to give as Christmas gifts. Now I have another suggestion (though hardly original), for those of us that don’t want to just walk into a shop and buy the first thing on the shelf that catches our eye.

For the last ten years (since I was 17), I have wanted to sponsor a child through World Vision. For some reason though, I never managed to get around to it. But a couple of weeks ago, an advertisement popped up on my screen while I was cruising through cyberspace. It was an ad for World Vision, and a reminder that I had wanted to do this since forever. So I did it and a few days ago I received my sponsorship package with a photograph of my sponsored child – a beautiful little two-year old girl from Peru.

Call it self-gratification if you will, but it makes me happy to know that a little bit of money that would normally get spent on crap, will actually make a difference in somebody’s life. Although she is only two now, when she is old enough she will now be able to go to school, her village will be greatly improved and she will now have some of the opportunities that I personally have taken for granted my entire life. It makes me sad that so many people are denied even the most simple things, and yet a couple of weeks ago I was going crazy because our tv wasn’t working. That, my friends, is the definition of a First World Problem.

So this Christmas, instead of spending your money on a stack of rubbish, why don’t you sponsor a child – or donate money to some other super worthy cause? It’s not going to break the budget and it’ll make you feel good. But the most important thing is that you will be making a difference to someone. You might think that one donation from you won’t really do much, but to the person who receives the benefit of it, it will mean the world. In fact, the time you are spending reading this, is as long as it takes to sponsor a child or donate. To make it even easier, I have thrown together a list of worthy causes for you to choose from, so you don’t even need to go searching. Too easy! Be nice this Christmas everyone, because there are people out there who won’t even have a Christmas.

Photo courtesy of World Vision

World Vision as far as I know, this is probably the best known child sponsorship program (at least where I live anyway). But aside from sponsoring a child, World Vision has community projects all over the world to make life not better just for an individual, but also entire communities. Along with sponsorship, there is also the option of buying things like school pencils ($5), chickens and eggs ($10), seeds to plant ($10) and even clean drinking water for $60, which we take for granted every day.

Good Return there are many women out there who work their fingers to the bone to feed their families, but they don’t always have the money to do so. Good Return is an investment website, where you can invest money in a woman’s business venture to help them get things going. As with all investments, there are repayments to be made, so you do get your money back. Investments are as little as $25 – that’s a new book for me.  http://www.goodreturn.org

Photo courtesy of Oxfam

Oxfam – there are lots of ways to make a difference through Oxfam – you can make a oneoff donation, an ongoing monthly donation, or (this is my favourite), you can buy a goat as a Kris Kringle gift. Or if goats are a bit much, you could buy a chicken for $10! That’s right, $10!!! So instead of buying a silly Kris Kringle gift for the guy in the office that you don’t really know (you know it and I know it – he’s only going to throw it out anyway), why don’t you buy a chicken on his behalf, for a family who will be able to benefit from it.

Unicef – for just $20, the cost of a movie ticket, you could become a Unicef Global Parent and provide 600 Therapeutic Food sachets, to help restore the health of malnourished children. As a Global Parent, the money you donate buys things like the food sachets mentioned above, as well as water purification tablets, school books and immunisation against deadly diseases. Surely you can miss one trip to the movies.

WSPA how about our furry and feathered friends? There are plenty of creatures around the world who are being kept in conditions that make me want to cry just thinking about it. Why not make a donation to WSPA on someone’s behalf, and help those inhabitants of the planet that don’t have a voice of their own.

Photo courtesy of khaledhosseinifoundation.org

Khaled Hosseini Foundation The author of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns has set up his own foundation to support projects for building shelters for refugee families in Afghanistan, while also assisting with various economic and educational opportunities for women and children. They also give scholarships to to women pursuing higher education in Afghanistan. There are also some beautiful handmade products for sale through this website, which are made by Afghani women in refugee camps in Pakistan. For most of them, this is their only form of income so every purchase goes a long way to help out. I really love the Embroidered Kite Bookmarks – beautiful to look at, functional and the money you pay to buy them will help an Afghani woman support her family.

And for those of us who are perhaps wanting to make a more long-term commitment, there is the option of child sponsorship, either through World Vision as I have done, or through one of these great groups (though there are plenty more out there):

Shall I keep going? I’d be here all day. There are plenty of ways to do something nice this Christmas and the list of organisations is not exhaustive. Through the magic of the internet, you will be able to find many other organisations that help people all over the world in every way imaginable. Take some time this Christmas to be thankful for what you have, and to help someone else have a little bit of that too.

Does anyone have any other good causes they could recommend?

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