Friday, February 29, 2008

Giving revisited

The other day I posted something about people who give money to organizations that take care third-world children, that sort of thing. My stand was that it was an easy, effortless, and essentially worthless way of being a caring, loving, individual. It was a moral stand, driven by outrage at people who assume that money is the same as caring.

Like most moral stands, it was a little short-sighted. Ain't it wonderful how your moral structure puts a pair of blinders on you? There are two aspects to helping people in foreign climes that I didn't put into my blog, so now I'm making reparations.

The first aspect is one that would occur to anyone not blinded my moral fervor. It's this: No matter what the motives of the givers, the kids in Zambia end up getting something they need, toothbrushes, or shoes, or books, or reconstructive surgery. That is the reality of it, and so, if you puff your ego by donating to Save the Children, more power to you.

The second aspect is that there are people who help others simply because it needs to be done. They are not righteous about it, certainly not self-righteous, but are people who, quietly, go about doing good. Let me, for instance, introduce you to the Swan Foundation. SWAN is an acronym for "Serving Women Across Nations," and it is the brainchild of two ordinary but extraordinary women who live in a smal town in northern Washington State. The younger of the two is a mother, a wife, and a kind of a human dynamo who is trying to bring shoes to children in Bolivia and to stop Malaria in Africa. She sells ice-cream on the street corners at summer festivals and hamburgers at football games. The money goes into the foundation. She does all this, not out of some version of the "white (wo)man's burden," but simply because there are those of her brothers and sisters out there who need shoes. If someone needs shoes, you try to see that they get them. End of story. Check out the Swan website and give 'em some money.


bekkieann said...

Here's the link to the SWAN site you mentioned:

If you Google, you'll find there are a number of foundatons by the name of "SWAN" and there's even one that uses the phrase Serving Women Across Nations. But this link takes you to the real thing.

That web site also links, as you know, to another site about your mother's wonderful book, "Lucy Shook's Letters from Afghanistan" which you should also recommend while you're at it - the proceeds from sales of that book go to SWAN. I don't think I told you I wrote a review of the book (edited by your sister and nieces) on my book review blog site. It's a marvelous book.

bekkieann said...

What do you call something when it isn't clear which noun is the antecedent? To clarify, your sister and nieces edited the BOOK, not my review.

Haha. I know how you love phrases like that!