Io, Saturnalia! I read somewhere that altruistic behavior has the same blissful effect on the brain as romance and motherly love, so this holiday season, why not exhilarate yourself by being especially generous to the groups below?
1. The Indigenous Women’s Political Caucus. Out of the fight against the South Dakota abortion ban and the spirited local campaigns of progressive Native American women comes the IWPC. Founded by brilliant organizer Charon Asetoyer, this new group will support grassroots activism on women’s rights and social justice. They’ll be lobbying the solidly antichoice state legislature, building skills and support for future races–all the things the Democratic Party should be doing but isn’t (NACB/IWPC, Box 572, Lake Andes, SD 57356).
2. Help Lesotho (HelpLesotho.ca). The small, landlocked, desperately poor African country of Lesotho has an HIV-positive rate of around 30 percent. Only 9 percent of kids graduate from high school. Help Lesotho keeps children in school, trains teachers, provides chairs, stoves, books and more to schools, promotes AIDS education and gives small stipends to grandmothers to help them feed their parentless grandchildren. If you’d like to be more personally involved, support and correspond with a needy orphan: $402 a year provides everything for one child (11 Keefer St., Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1M 2J9).
3. Loi Hua/Women’s Promise. Remember Agent Orange? The Vietnamese can’t forget. Thousands are still suffering from its use by the US military decades ago (birth defects, cancer, neurological problems, as well as devastating environmental damage). This small advocacy group, founded by a Vietnamese physician and an American public health practitioner, does scientific, legal and humanitarian work in support of Vietnamese victims. It is currently working on a class-action lawsuit against US manufacturers of Agent Orange (now on appeal after initial dismissal). Write your check to NCOSH, with “Loi Hua/Women’s Promise” on the memo line, and mail to Trude Bennett, 2723 Old Sugar Road, Durham, NC 27707.
4. Women’s Health and Justice Initiative. Fifteen months after Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans is still a disaster area–especially for women of color. They were the most vulnerable before the hurricane and are much worse off now. The WHJI is opening a women’s health clinic on the site of a shuttered clinic in Treme, one of America’s oldest black neighborhoods. This is a new grassroots organization for which even a handful of donations would make a huge difference (Box 51325, New Orleans, LA 70151).