Recently I attended my first Dining for Women event. The idea is simple – donate the amount you usually would spend going out to eat and share in a charity potluck instead. This month’s donations go to The Little Sisters Fund in Nepal. When I saw the brochure detailing the extent of the healthcare services provided to women through this program, I fell to my knees.
For the last 4 months, I have been particularly self-absorbed by my own survival task post-surgery and can find a billion and one things to complain about with my healthcare and situation. But the reality of medical care for most women around the world is not even an ounce of what I have access to, and this to me – given what I have gone through – is unimaginable suffering. I set up my first recurring donation to Dining for Women, not only for the Little Sisters but because it combines all my favorite interests: women, social impact, food and cooking, and inspiring human potential.
I believe this is what it takes for all of us to open our hearts a little more – what we know intellectually, becomes felt emotionally, and then we act. Recently, the current refugee crisis has caught my attention more than other causes have over the years is because it is the largest humanitarian crisis that I have witnessed happening in the present in my own 32 years, and one which will have very far-reaching effects for decades to come. The refugee crisis will undoubtedly reach our doorstep one day and we may not know what to do – be it in the form of a health care crisis, the need for education, a rise in xenophobia, housing or food shortages, a major war, etc. I read regularly the posts here on Humans of New York, he is doing a series on Syrian refugees. I encourage you to follow this. My family and I have decided to donate to a charity on our birthdays and to share with each other the charities we support and think strategically about this.
Giving money certainly doesn’t fix any problems from the root cause or systemic level, but it can provide relief and sometimes it’s the only thing we can and must do. One thing I learned from my Mom and Dad is that the world is our collective responsibility and our purpose is to serve the collective in some way. I am lucky to be able to say I have been afforded every privilege as a result of my family.
I hope this post will help you make decisions about where and how to give, given the current refugee crisis. I did some research and I found that there are many large organizations like the UN, UNHCR, UNICEF, OXFAM, Save the children, etc providing a lot of relief. These organizations are well funded, tend to get a lot of attention and because they are so large often have more overhead and personnel costs. Of those larger orgs, UNHCR one seems to provide the most direct support from funds donated (at 86%). I discovered though that the following smaller organizations are offering more targeted direct support and the money donated also goes to the ground instead of administrative overhead:
- International Medical Corps this seems to do a little more rebuilding than Doctors Without Borders
- Medical Teams international – this group strictly does dental and medical care.
They also have this great holiday initiative to send kits for infants and families. Because the drop off points are on the west coast it’s easier to donate to them the cost of the kit than to purchase the items and prepare the kits.
- The Karam Foundation – this organization supports children in meeting their basic survival needs and education. They have an adopt a family program.
- Migrant Offshore Aid Station – this organization supports migrants on shore with the help of rescuers and paramedics
I have made it a priority to engage with my family and friends in not only talking about what is happening in the world, but doing something about it together. It can be fun, meaningful, inspiring and yet also difficult to live in the world together and to face our limitations. All we can do is try to do something, one step at a time. This is a list of charities I support on a regular basis.What I can give to them is minimal, but I have made it a priority to give something on a regular basis and I am proud of the work they are doing, and proud to support it:
-Dining for Women to support causes related to women and girls around the world
-The Jakara Movement to support a movement of Sikh youth engaged in social change
-IDEX, International Development Exchange to support local grassroots leaders
-The Karam Foundation for Syrian refugees