Was 2020 the worst year you can remember or what? Well, cheer up. Think how much worse you’d feel if Joe Biden had lost. Let’s not let Covid, homeschooling by Zoom, Republicans, Amy Coney Barrett, and the weird death-throe flailings of Donald Trump (firing squads—really?) keep us from spreading joy and justice to good people who are trying to light a candle in this naughty world.
1. Georgia Fund. As you know, the Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock campaigns are our last chance to flip the Senate, dethrone Mitch McConnell, and give the Democrats a fighting chance to do good. The best way to help is to build grassroots support and engagement, as Stacey Abrams’s Fair Fight has been doing. You can support Fair Fight and 12 other groups effective at local voter mobilization by donating to the Georgia Fund. These groups are geared up for the January 5 runoffs and for the long haul to come, including an important governor’s race in 2022. The millions of dollars dumped on individual candidates vanish after the elections, but local organizing lasts.
2. Edward Said Libraries. Nation readers supported the first English-language library in Gaza from the start a few years ago, and it worked: Now there are two of them! Founder Mosab Abu Toha is fundraising $20,000 for more space, more books in English and Arabic (especially children’s books), and more programs (art, music, computers, writing workshops). Please support this rare ray of joy and peace in a very gloomy place.
3. SisterSong. Founded in 1997, SisterSong is a women-of-color reproductive justice collective based in the South that promotes abortion and contraception access and fights the criminalization of women of color for miscarriage, abortion, and more. It’s involved in everything from getting out the vote to leadership development to suing the governor of Georgia over the state’s fetal heartbeat abortion ban (currently on hold). Covid has made Black women’s reproductive health care more challenging than it already was, so help out by giving to SisterSong’s new Birth Justice Care Fund, which assists Black women and people of color with costs related to pregnancy and birth.
4. Abortion Dream Team. You may have read that Polish women have taken to the streets over a constitutional court decision mandating a near-total ban on abortion. The uprising has spread to a general protest against the right-wing government, the Catholic Church, and Poland’s patriarchal society. You can join in by donating to a documentary being made by women filmmakers about the Abortion Dream Team, four women who are leading the fight. “Help us to make this documentary about abortion!” director Karolina Domagalska writes in her appeal. “About sisterhood! About friendship! About revolution!” (Scroll down for English.)
5. Afghan Women’s Fund. This all-volunteer organization headed by the fearless Afghan expatriate Fahima Gaheez builds schools, provides literacy classes for women, and gives school supplies and other material aid in parts of Afghanistan where NGOs are thin on the ground. (Full disclosure: I’m on the board.) The group’s current project is to build a girls’ school in Achin, a Pashtun district on the border with Pakistan where ISIS has been active. It will be Achin’s first school for girls in four decades. Over 200 girls are already studying in private homes and outdoors. There would be lots more if there were an actual building. Checks to: Afghan Women’s Fund, 1321 Maple Ave., Verona, PA 15147.
6. Semicolon Books. Chicago special! This is the only Black-woman-owned bookstore in the city. The owner, Danielle Mullen, had the genius idea of raising money to buy books for local public school students, many of whom are from low-income households and have few or no books in their homes. So far, it has provided more than $175,000 in books and donations. Keep the bookstore and the giveaways going by contributing to its nonprofit, Parenthesis.
7. Women and Children First. While we’re on the subject of Chicago, this is one of the few remaining feminist bookstores left in the country. Support it from near or far by buying books on the wish list of Chicago Books to Women in Prison. A dictionary is one of the books most requested by prisoners, by the way, which tells you a lot about their hunger for learning and the lack of resources provided them.
8. Restore Hope: Liberia. This small NGO works to provide basic health care, education, and income-generating activities to extremely poor communities in rural Kolahun, where many children are not literate and many people of all ages are suffering the long-term physical, mental, and emotional effects of Ebola and civil war. Just launched: an innovative program that integrates mental health support with efforts for women’s economic and social empowerment, the first of its kind in Liberia. When women are strong, their children flourish, and a nation restores hope, peace, and security.
9. The Brigid Alliance. As restrictions on legal abortion mount and clinics close, more and more women are traveling long distances for later procedures, with extra costs for hotels, child care, and food. This New York City–based group funds everything but the abortion itself (other groups pay for that) and makes all the arrangements, which the pandemic has made particularly complicated. Since it opened in mid-2018, Brigid has helped around 1,000 people and now serves 50 to 60 each month. Checks to: The Brigid Alliance, Planetarium Station, PO Box 58, New York, NY 10024.
10. Your local food bank. Even before Covid, food banks couldn’t feed everyone who needed help; now they are stressed beyond belief. You may have seen pictures of endless lines of cars to pick up groceries at food giveaways. Have you thought about the people turned away when the food runs out? It is unconscionable that people are hungry in our rich country and have to rely on charity. If you are lucky enough to be working from home and maybe even saving because of lowered expenses, send your local food bank as much as you can spare and then some. You will enjoy your holiday meal a lot more if you spread your good fortune to the tables of others.
Here’s to 2021; it’s got to be better than this.