Spreading the Holiday Cheer

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all our loyal readers (and lurkers)! Yes it’s a day late, but the big day is always a little busy. All in all, it was a grand day with family and friends. Santa must’ve adapted to the internet age and reading our blog, because we got a number of things to help us on our adventure. Sporks, duct tape, silk sleeping bags, a gorillapod, and a new compact digital camera all found their way under the tree at the Dowell’s (I’ve always been amazed at how Santa can find you even when you travel). In other exciting news, we now have corporate sponsorship to go gorilla trekking! Good news gorillas! Thanks mom!

In keeping with the spirit of the holidays, we’ve been putting a bit of money toward our charities of choice. You probably won’t be surprised to learn that we tend to support organizations that are effective in assisting the developing world. We want to share three of them that we strongly support with all of you:

Kiva.org: Populizing the nobel winning Grameen Bank (another great organization) microloan style of developing world investment, this organization allows you to loan money to entrepreneurs in places as far ranging as Tajikistan, Uganda, Bolivia, and Samoa. Most loans are about $1000 over about one year, though the brilliance of Kiva is that each loan is put together by many lenders loaning $25 each. And the best part is you get your money back (without interest naturally), so you can then send it to another entrepreneur in need a year down the line. We have recently completed our first two loans (a co-op in Ecuador and a soap maker in Sierra Leone) and have reissued the money to a restaurant in Uganda and a shopkeeper in Afghanistan, and added a beauty salon in Nicaragua and a general store in Peru). The site has a lot of social aspects, and you can easily track the progress of your loan and see it at work. The link up there is a referral link, but we don’t get anything else out of it other than the satisfaction of knowing how many people sign up and donate through us.

Doctors Without Borders: Most likely you have heard of Doctors Without Borders. This Nobel Peace Prize winning organization provides health care to those who most need it: people affected by wars, disasters, or simply lack of access. The doctors, nurses, and other professionals have the courage to give up everything and put themselves in harm’s way, and no regard is paid to politics, religion, or other such factors. The need for medical care is the sole determining factor for where Doctors Without Borders goes, and often they’re the only people to go to some of the world’s most needy and dangerous places.

Charity Begins: An organization that we’ve had contact with in the past that coordinates delivery of aid supplies to developing countries. You can help by donating goods, delivery time, or money. We plan on being couriers for them when we travel, so even if you’re not headed anywhere, maybe you can donate something for us or other travelers to transport. Check their website for a list of desired items.

Those are our favorites, and we’d love it if we’ve convinced some of you to support them as well. But we’re always looking for great causes, so what are some of your favorites? Who do you think does great work in the world (or even your local neighborhood)?

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