Posts Tagged ‘poverty’

Updated View: Heifer International

PR_Logo-Full_ColorIt’s been a while since I dropped in on Heifer International. They cycle onto my radar around the winter holidays because it is such a sublime fit for gift giving (give a goat, or a share of bee hives, or a portion of an ox, etc to communities of need around the world)…but of course, their calendar is jam packed with outreach, education, and great volunteer opportunities year ’round. Getting involved is an outstanding way to help eradicate hunger and poverty, and help children and families become self-reliant.

The beauty of the Heifer model is that it provides tangible, life-changing gifts to families…livestock (a Heifer or one of many other options–also shares in an animal in case you can’t plunk down the donation to fund one in its entirety), trees, bees, education, small business funds, clean water access, and so many more categories…and part of the structure includes passing on the gift to others. The recipients of your offering donate offspring of the donated animal to another family, as well as the education on care. It is built in to keep the giving going. I truly love that! This practice of passing on the gift means your impact is multiplied by as much as nine times! Thus far, Heifer has reached 20.7 million families. More than 105 million children, women, and men are on the road to more sustainable living due to the giving and support of folks like you.

It just so happens that TODAY, August 22, is a big event for them: the third annual “Beyond Hunger: A Place at The Table” gala, to support and empower marginalized women, in Beverly Hills. Dang, I clearly need to check their calendar more often…Next Year!

The Blue Sweater

My friend, Mary Pat, gave me this book recently…in between trips-of-a-lifetime to amazing places like Bhutan and Peru and the Galapagos and multiple visits with family charitable projects in Africa…(her life is amazing).

The Blue Sweater is subtitled: “Bridging the Gap Between Rich and Poor in an Interconnected World” and is a genuinely engaging read that kept making me go back and read parts over and over. I am a guy who never folds a page, but my copy of this book is dog-eared throughout and I’ve even written notes in the margins (fearing the retribution of my second-grade teacher, who would’ve had a fit to see someone writing in a book). Author Jacqueline Novogratz is also the founder of The Acumen Fund, and she understands—and opens understanding—about issues of global poverty in ways that have, from this point forward, changed my thinking. My eyes glaze over at discussions of finance. I used to rebel against higher math, and math in general, so conditioned myself (and I’m not proud of this) to simply decide I didn’t understand.

Now don’t get me wrong, this is no economics textbook. It is a travel-filled memoir of an amazing woman. She began as a young international banker, and is today one of the boundary pushers in the world of micro-loans. Through personal experiences working in diverse regions with impoverished communities (that make great story chapters) in the favelas of Brazil, the Cote d’Ivoire, Nairobi, additional areas of Kenya, India, Pakistan, and most affecting, pre- and post-genocide Rwanda, Novogratz opens doors with the investment of care and comprehension as much as dollars. The women with whom she shares dreams, and the defeats and victories of an outsider trying to be effective, (the crux of the issue) are riveting, and what has shifted my thinking. The best-intended charitable projects often miss the mark and peter out, and some of Jacqueline’s discoveries at first seem like tough love, but prove so much more appropriate than simple charitable donation. Throwing money at a problem is never the answer…though money is the linchpin for so much.

I am so glad this book was given to me—I probably never would have picked it up on my own—and when a book serves as a line of demarcation: I had these beliefs BEFORE reading this, and they have changed SINCE reading it…that is exactly why writers write.

Donors Choose - Teachers ask. You choose. Students learn.
A-B-C, it’s as easy as 1-2-3.

Getting learning tools and supplies into classrooms that don’t have enough is not rocket science, and Donors Choose makes it even easier to create a school environment ripe for learning and success.

Public school teachers, those beleaguered, underpaid, and overworked heroes, post classroom needs on the website, from extra pencils or books not provided by the district to science equipment and learning units, you browse the project requests and school profiles, and give any amount with which you are comfortable. You needn’t fund an entire project, but can give any amount. Once a project reaches full funding (enough to buy instruments for a music program, or sport equipment for recess, for instance), Donors Choose delivers the materials to the school, and you’ll get photos and thank-you notes from the teacher and class. Search projects by location, program focus, poverty level/need, popularity…however you find inspiration to help kids, that’s the right way.


Who on your holiday shopping list needs a little infusion of funky colorful style with an international vibe?

Hand-crafted with needles and imigwegwe plant threads by the women of Covanya cooperative in Rwanda, the versatile Indego Africa Plateau Basket adds a vibrant African flourish to your home or office decor. These fair trade African baskets require great skill and up to seven days to weave. With each purchase you empower strong African women to lift themselves out of poverty: 100% of profits are returned to the artisans for training in long-term skills.

IndegoAfrica also has a range of other artisan-created products from yoga bags to laptop sleeves, plus bracelets, coasters, and ornaments.

Giving while giving back–it’s the most important recipe for the holidays.