Money’s tight this year, I know. But tradition is tradition. So here’s my annual list of suggestions for your end-of-year donations. Read on to learn about some great groups that help people who are worse off than you are.
Commune des Femmes de Kamanyola (CFK).
Ann Jones’s recent Nation story about the horrific wartime rapes, often followed by mutilation if not murder, of hundreds of thousands of women in Congo highlighted the work of this grassroots organization. Founded by a mother who refused to accept in shame and silence her teenage daughter’s rape by soldiers, CFK takes rape victims to the hospital for treatment and drugs to prevent STDs, HIV and pregnancy; pressures their families to accept them; works to prosecute rapists; and educates communities that rape is not men’s right–or women’s fault. Make your check out to IRC, with CFK on the memo line. Address: Heidi Lehmann, director, Gender-Based Violence Unit, International Rescue Committee, 122 East 42nd St., New York, NY 10168-1289.
Bronx Freedom Fund.
This year-old organization posts bail for indigent people awaiting trial on misdemeanor or nonviolent felony charges in New York City’s poorest borough. These are men and women who without the fund would languish in jail for perhaps six months for lack of $500, including many who are innocent and would plead guilty just to be free. Of all clients bailed out, 95 percent have returned for every court appearance and half have had their cases dismissed. Bonus: money used to post bail is returned when the cases are over, so a single gift can keep on giving. Address: 860 Courtlandt Ave., Bronx, NY 10451; BronxFreedomFund.org.
Iraq Veterans Against the War.
The little group you supported last year through donations to Vietnam Veterans Against the War has doubled in size and is walking on its own. Help IVAW organize vets and soldiers against the Iraq occupation, develop support networks for war resisters, present Winter Soldier testimonies about the Iraq and Afghanistan occupations, and run truth-in-recruiting education in schools. IVAW supports reparations for the Iraqi people and full benefits for returning vets, including mental healthcare. Address: Box 8296, Philadelphia, PA 19101; ivaw.org.
Resurrection After Exoneration.
An outgrowth of The Innocence Project of New Orleans, RAE is run by John Thompson, who spent eighteen years on Louisiana’s death row after being wrongfully convicted, and provides housing, training and life opportunities to innocent people released from prison. Did you know that Louisiana has one of the highest exoneration rates in the country as well as the highest per capita rate of incarceration, with a recidivism rate of almost 50 percent? You can help exonerees start to rebuild the life the state did its best to destroy. Address: 3301 Chartres St. New Orleans, LA 70117; r-a-e.org.