Another holiday season–and only a year after the last one. How did that happen? Probably you are feeling a bit tapped out just now, what with having given your savings, your house and your firstborn to MoveOn, ACT and similar. The elections swallowed up huge lashings of progressive cash, leaving other causes lean and hungry. So, generous Nation readers, down a couple of eggnogs and whip out that battered checkbook. Here’s a list of excellent organizations, some familiar from years past, some new, with an emphasis on ones with a personal touch, a political mission and extremely low administrative costs:
Canadian Harambee Education Society. For 400 Canadian dollars (around $327 US) a year, you can send a Kenyan or Tanzanian girl to high school and change her life forever. The girls CHES subsidizes (nearly 400 this year) have placed well in the national entrance exams but cannot afford the tuition, which can be the equivalent of their families’ annual income. As in so much of the world, when money is scarce, parents educate sons before daughters. CHES not only pays the bills but helps the girls flourish in school and after. Donations of any size are welcome–if you mark your check “dorm project” it will go toward the $60,000 needed to build a girl’s dorm so the technical school in Katesh, Tanzania, can accept female students to be trained as mechanics, electricians, welders, etc. CHES is a secular humanist organization, which is nice. American donors should make out their checks to Humanist Society of Friends with CHES in the memo line (don’t forget), and mail it to HSF at 1777 T Street NW, Washington, DC 20009 (www.canadianharambee.ca).
Equality Now. This organization fights some of the most flagrant abuses of women’s human rights around the world–from female genital mutilation in Africa to Asian sex tours organized in the New York City area. In March it launched a global campaign against laws that discriminate against women–whether by permitting wife-beating and marital rape, tolerating rape and abduction, banning women from voting and inheriting property or, as in Afghanistan, imprisoning very young girls who run away from forced marriages. What I particularly like about Equality Now is its close connections with local groups and with the global feminist movement–including not just women but men. With the Bush Administration redoubling its efforts to undermine the international consensus supporting women’s rights and advancement that emerged at the UN’s 1995 Beijing conference, Equality Now’s work is more essential than ever. Send your check to Box 20646, Columbus Circle Station, New York, NY 10023 (www.equalitynow.org).
Afghan Women’s Fund. The Taliban is gone, but Afghan women remain among the most impoverished and least emancipated in the world. Moreover, decades of war have left millions of widows, many of whom are the sole support of their children. Run by the fearless and indefatigable Taliban refugee Fahima Vorgetts, AWF gives women and girls opportunities for economic independence: It supports schools, classes in literacy, crafts and sewing; pays for wells and sanitation in villages; gives women in the countryside goats and chickens to generate both food and income; and provides a wide variety of material aid to poor families (blankets, clothes, medicine, money for food). With questions being raised about the profligate ways of some NGOs operating in Afghanistan, a donation to AWF insures that the money you give for Afghan women actually reaches them. Make your check out to WAW/AWF, and send it to 35-32 Union Street, 2nd floor, Flushing, NY 11354.