Sunday, November 20, 2011

Gifts That Give Back

I am, historically, a very difficult person to buy for. I am picky and hard to please and I often lose sight of the things that really matter. This year, to facilitate the gift-giving, my siblings and I all made wishlists on Amazon that the rest of us can work off. I put a good amount of items on there, canvassing a wide price range. As I look over this list of stuff that I want, I am hit with the realization that I really don't need it. Oh, don't get me wrong, I want it. I really do. But do I need it?

Sometimes I forget the impact that a small amount of money can have when put to the best use. Ten dollars here may buy an album or a coffee mug, but $10 overseas in a third world country can do a helluva lot more good. With this in mind, and trying to continue on the path toward becoming a better person, I added a few more 'gifts' to my wishlist. Here are a few of my favorite organizations and their gifts.

OXFAM
For those of you that don't know, Oxfam is an organization that is fighting poverty and social injustice around the world. They've been around for almost 70 years and they also have some great gifts listed for the holidays. Some of my favorites:

  • $12 for Seeds - "This gift is a unique investment in rural communities. Each pack is a reserve of native seeds that ensure that there are plenty for the next planting season and that traditional seed varieties are not lost. Protect native crops and feed the hungry with this fruitful gift."
  • $12 for Soap - "For many of us, a bar of soap is a staple by the sink. For others, a bar of soap can save a life. Soap can stop the spread of disease or keep a child healthy. This gift supplies a community with 20 pounds of multipurpose soap. So, help families lather up!
  • $90 for Human Rights Training - "This gift allows three community members to participate in a training program that will help educate them about human rights and equality. The program helps women speak up in their communities and educates men about the importance of women's roles as leaders, citizens, and breadwinners."

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL
Amnesty International is known across the globe as an organization that strives to protect human rights. They work on everything from attempting to free political prisoners to ending torture and campaigning for the rights of refugees. One hundred percent of the proceeds from the Amnesty International store go to protecting human rights. Some of my favorites:
  • $30 Binh Minh Loop Scarf - "Binh Minh is Vietnamese for morning sun, and this collective in Northern Vietnam is just a few kilometers from the South China Sea, a spectacular vantage point from which to welcome the sun each and every morning. It is here the collective of 20 families operates 25 looms and can weave up to 5,000 shawls and scarves a month. Binh Minh uses only local Vietnam raised silk in all of its hand spun yarns.
  • $14.98 Putumayo Presents Cuba - I love the Putumayo albums. Great music and a great cause. "The music of Cuba developed from a unique set of historical and social circumstances. African slaves, brought to work on the Spanish sugar plantations, soon outnumbered the European colonists... Most of the songs on this collection are a style called son, (lit. "sound") one of the most popular and influential Cuban musical forms. Migrating musicians brought son west to Havana in the 1920s, where it exploded in popularity."

HEIFER INTERNATIONAL
Heifer International is a great organization which is attempting to combat hunger and poverty in a sustainable way.  I first found out about this organization as a senior in college and I can't believe I didn't know about them before.  Another great thing that they do is encouraging the recipients of the gift to "pass it on" by either giving someone the animal produce, or one of the animals, some of the seeds, etc. A gift that keeps on giving? I'm in! Some of my favorites:


  • $20 for Ducks - "In Xiang Qian, China, ducks are as much as tripling some families' incomes. People like Zonglin Zhou began with a starter flock of ducklings, and now they manage hundreds of ducks that enable them to send their children to school and offer them secure futures - and help others achieve the same success through Passing on the Gift."
  • $20 for Chicks - "A good hen can lay up to 200 eggs a year - plenty to eat, share or sell. With Heifer recipients' commitment to pass on the offspring and training, the exponential impact of adding chickens to communities in poverty is truly a model that helps end hunger and poverty. Because chickens require little space and can thrive on readily available food scraps, families can make money from the birds without spending much.In Tanzania, Omari and Kulwa were struggling to raise a family on just 50 cents a day. Now, through passing on the gift, all of the children in their village are going to school."



Thanks for reading! And (a little early I know, but) happy holidays!
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