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Honest to Goodness: Reputable Charities

November 30, 2010 by Vito La Giorgia  
Filed under Special Features, lifestyle

CharityIt’s the season of giving, not the season of guilt. While the Santa you see at the busy intersection might actually be a Grinch in red velour clothing, that’s usually not the case. Then again, what’s one or two dollars? When it comes to more serious donations, it might be a good idea for us to clear the air about where your charitable donations are going. The following organizations get our nod of approval.

FH CANADA
Of all major charities, FH Canada has one of the lowest rates of revenue funds allocated to administrative fees. One of the quotes it stands by is, “Managing poverty is big business, eradicating it is revolutionary.” As Clarissa Youssef, director of communications for FH Canada, explains, “FH Canada is committed to upholding the highest standards of financial integrity and stewardship.” For every dollar donated to FH Canada, $0.88 is spent on programs to help the poor reach sustainability, $0.06 is spent on administration and operating costs and $0.06 is invested to generate future income. FH Canada is committed to supporting a community for approximately seven to nine years with holistic development programming. Even a shrewd businessperson can appreciate that this charity is not providing people with fish; it is teaching them how to fish. FH Canada has recently made a difference in Haiti, a country facing an epidemic of cholera. The charity has built a home made of wood and blue plastic for single mother Edith, who lives in the community of Siloe, an urban slum on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince.

The process focuses on identifying community assets and potential, instead of limitations and problems. FH Canada delivers dignity, respect and hope to community members. Once a community’s strengths have been identified, the community can apply its local knowledge and resources and begin its journey out of poverty.

WOMEN FOR AFGHAN WOMEN
Responding to emergencies and sustainability are important building blocks in the helping process but prevention can help avoid the problem in the first place. The ever-present danger of the Taliban regaining control in Afghanistan has the potential for unimaginable horrors for women. Even at the moment, Afghanistan is one of the most dangerous countries in the world to be a woman. In light of these recent events, our second choice is a courageous international charity that deserves more attention. Women for Afghan Women (WAW) shelters abused and scared women in Afghanistan. WAW was responsible for getting a girl named Aisha to appear on the gripping Aug. 9, 2010 cover of Time magazine. The timid 18-year-old Afghan girl is shown from the neck up, missing her nose and ears. The Taliban approved of her abusive husband brutally disfiguring her after she was caught trying to run away from him and their “marriage.” WAW cared for Aisha and other girls and women like her at a shelter in Afghanistan. Aisha (a name that means “alive and well” in Arabic), is currently awaiting reconstructive surgery in the U.S.

CBS news anchor Katie Couric discovered another dark story while reporting from Afghanistan in August of 2010. Shamsia Husseini was on her way to school when a man riding a motorbike in the opposite direction threw acid onto her face. It was a message from the Taliban that women should not be allowed to seek an education. The Taliban society within Afghanistan has tried and will continue to try to institutionalize injustice. The brave high school student explained how her eyes still burn from the attack. She told Couric: “I still have nightmares. I will fight these people by continuing to go to school. Last time they threw acid to stop me, but even if they hit me with bullets, I will not stop going to school.”

With the Taliban getting closer to regaining power in Afghanistan, WAW is in crisis mode. Afghan President Hamid Karzai was recently quoted in the Washington Post as saying, “If you had to choose between saving a girl’s life or enabling her to go to school, which would you do first?” Women in Afghanistan deserve both and so much more. WAW is fighting to retain the basic rights that women have fought so hard to achieve and are in jeopardy of losing.

ACTION AGAINST HUNGER
The tireless efforts of Action Against Hunger – ACF International have made it a world leader in the fight against malnutrition.

James L. Phelan, senior officer of communications and advocacy for ACF, ensures that $0.85 of every donated dollar directly supports its field programs. In 2009, for example, ACF’s U.S. headquarters managed $35 million in total revenue, 85 per cent of which was dedicated to program services, 12.5 per cent to general management, and 2.6 percent to fundraising expenses.

After a village was raided in Uganda, what was left would be comparable to if someone destroyed your house, took all your money and eliminated your chances of work. Lumaria was a casualty of that real-life scenario. The 16-month-old Ugandan baby lay helpless on the dirt floor as her parents lost everything they had worked so hard for. Weakened by malaria and pneumonia, Lumaria was admitted to the Action Against Hunger Stabilization Center where she received immediate attention. After six weeks in the care of the organization, Lumaria is healthy again.

By giving funds to reputable charities, we are giving them the tools to build a sustainable tomorrow. Art Taylor, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance, makes it his business to know where money is going. In a 2009 CBS interview last pre-holiday season, Taylor said, “Be smart, give and give generously.” It feels great to spread goodness, so start an event, raise money and support fundraisers. To find all the details about Better Business Bureau-approved charities, visit the Charity Navigator at www.give.org. The website provides an A to Z list of charities – everything from the annual income of the charities’ CEOs to the dollar trail of where revenues are shared. There’s no reason for paranoia or irrational spats between loved ones during the Holidays over the legitimacy of charitable organizations. All of these charities are only a click away.

www.fhcanada.org
www.womenforafghanwomen.org
www.actionagainsthunger.org

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