Out of a desire to expand my world view I’ve been reading more non fiction, both books and magazines, that teach me more history, geography, politics and economics. One result has been a wish to engage more with world events, and an aspect of this is that I have been considering NGOs to support with a monthly donation. I’ve given one-time donations for disaster relief funds, but today, day 20 in my year of daily doing something new, I began for the first time to donate monthly to a group engaged in alleviating human misery.
How did I choose the group? I toyed around with agencies that let you imagine you are adopting a particular child, but I had a feeling the sponsor/child relationship was a fiction that appealed to my own vanity as a donor: how nice to think a certain child is having a better life all because of one’s small donation from a safe distance – but in reality how was it possible for an agency to work on a direct donor/child basis. I looked into it and found my concerns seemed justified, so I abandoned that notion and instead chose the 1999 Nobel Prize Laureate Medecins Sans Frontieres/Doctors Without Borders.
I like the way MSF workers build latrines, perform emergency surgery, educate and save the health of women in cultures where genital mutilation is the custom, and generally get the job done, without religious entanglement. I like their insistence on weapon-free hospitals in Afghanistan. According to their magazine, Dispatches, MSF chooses to rely solely on private donations for its work in Afghanistan, and accepts no funding from any government. Whenever I have read reports written by MSF workers, I am struck by their pragmatism and high regard for the organization’s ability to put their talents to good use.
I could wait another 50 years to find out more facts, and to prove to myself that this is an organization I can unreservedly support, but I’d rather spend whatever part of those years is left to me learning as I go, while being as engaged as I can, from today.