Monday, November 30, 2009

Some holiday gift ideas

Well, the holidays are coming up, and that's something to be happy about! I only get a day off for Christmas, but since Christmas is on a Friday this year, its nice to know we'll be able to enjoy a long holiday weekend.

I've been thinking about gift buying a bit, and I know I have to overcome my procrastination tendencies and shop early, otherwise things won't arrive in Ireland or America until weeks after Christmas.

Anyway, I was also thinking about some creative and helpful gifts to give this year. We are all so fortunate as to have our basic needs met and to live pretty comfortable lifestyles, even despite all the economic difficulties so many of us are dealing with at the moment. I always think that the holiday season is a great time to think about how good our lives are, how much love and support we get from and can give to our family and friends, and to think of how we can spread that love and goodness to people who lack our abundance and good fortune.

I've made a list of some of the charitable organizations I think are doing really important work around the world. Maybe some of you will be inspired to give a holiday donation to one of them. And, as it might not be the easiest thing to ship anything to Turkey for Christmas, maybe you'll consider supporting one of these charities instead of sending me a gift. I won't speak for Richie though! I don't want to deny him any Christmas gifts that may be heading his way!

In Tibet, 1 in 15 women who become pregnant die before or during delivery. And among children born healthy, 1 in 5 will not live to see their 2nd birthday. According to statistics, it is three times safer to be a US soldier serving in Afghanistan than to become pregnant in Tibet.

The Surmang Foundation medical clinic provides valuable healthcare, training for health workers and education support for monks, nuns, and common people of Eastern Tibet. Their important work is improving the lives of so many people.

I hope you will visit the Surmang Foundation's website to learn more about the various projects helping the people of Tibet and consider supporting them in their work through the Prayer Flags: Make a Wish campaign. For a $25 donation, your wishes, intentions or prayers (for yourself or others) will be written on a prayer flag and flown at the Surmang Monastery in Tibet.

Prayer Flag Promotion

Last year I read the amazing novel called What is the What, by David Eggers. It's about the life of Valentino Achak Deng, a Dinka man from Southern Sudan and one of the 'Lost Boys'. His story is so inspiring, and this man not only survived the horrors of the Sudanese civil war, but has earned himself an education in America, has overcome the trials and difficulties of making a life for himself in American culture, and has started a foundation to support education and development in his home region in Sudan. I strongly recommend that you read his book and visit the Valentino Achak Deng Foundation website to see the great work that is being done in Marial Bai with the Foundations support. Also, if you are interested in reading the book, you should know that all the profits from the sale of the book go to the Valentino Achak Deng Foundation. So, you can kill two birds with one stone there!

There are great pictures, videos and information about what you can do to support peace and development in Southern Sudan. You can also make a donation that will really help the foundation continue its education centre project and provide opportunities to young Sudanese people, especially girls, who need a quality education if they are to survive in the world.

The WWF is the biggest international conservation organization in the world. They work on so many projects helping to protect vulnerable wildlife, conserve endangered habitats and work with and assist local people in working towards sustainable development. I think they take a realistic approach to conservation and are also very concerned with the human element involved, making sure that habitats and animal species are saved from extinction while helping people to make a better living and enabling local people to benefit from their natural resources in a responsible way.

You can learn more about the WWF's work around the world. There are many campaigns to support, and you can even write a letter to your local congressman or a government official thousands of miles away to encourage them to protect endangered wildlife. Or you can visit the Gift Centre to symbolically adopt an endangered species on behalf of an animal lover in your life.

Anyway, these are just a few interesting charitable organizations doing compassionate and life changing work in the world. If you support a charity, I would love to hear about it and I will add it to my holiday charity gift list! Please leave me a comment.

I hope everyone's holiday season is off to a good start! Happy gift giving!

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