The topic this year is poverty.
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The first is Women for Women International. The organization uses funds from sponsors (like me -- I have sponsored two women in recent years) and uses them to help women from war-torn countries get much-needed education that helps them to be self-sufficient. In most cases, this is by helping them build up their own businesses so that they can better care for their families and provide services and skills to their communities as well. It's a win-win. As as sponsor, you get to exchange letters with your sister.
Kiva is a microlending program, also geared toward helping people become self-sufficient by loaning small amounts of start-up capital which the recipients then use to launch or expand their small businesses. The money then gets repaid, and, as a regular Kiva lender, I usually roll the money right back into another micro-loan waiting to be fully funded. Kiva recently introduced the ability to fund credits as individual payments are made (previously, you got the disbursement after the entire loan was paid back), so if you have several loans you've already invested in, and they get paid monthly, your credit is eventually enough to lend to another micro-loan while your money is STILL helping the first individual you funded!
The filmmakers who brought you Born Into Brothels began a wonderful organization called Kids With Cameras. Zana Briski brings cameras and the magical world of photography to impoverished children the world over. Having a form of creative expression gives the children confidence and hope. Currently they are working toward building a Hope House for children in the red light district of Calcutta (where it all began), so that they can get proper education and care.
These are all organizations I care deeply about and have contributed a good deal to over the years. They are well-run and do incredible, important work, shining their light in dark corners.
If you're still with me, you might find this interesting: Get Rich Slowly ran a moving piece today about street children in India.