Friday, November 26, 2004

Vital Charity

You may have noticed the list of 'vital charities' that I have linked in the sidebar. I think all of these are wonderful and am sure there are a thousand out there just as great, but I thought today I would elaborate on one of them (on this Black Friday -when the focus is normally on what we can get for ourselves...)

Women For Women International.
This is how it works: You apply to be a sponsor and pick the area that you would like your 'sister' to be from. (Afghanistan, Iraq, Bosnia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kosovo, Rwanda, or Nigeria) You send $25/mo per sponsor. But that's not it...it is strongly encouraged that you correspond monthly with your 'sister'. This money enrolls her in a program that will teach her valuable skills (either crafts/handiworks that can be sold or teaching women to pool the money to say -buy a goat together). Many of these women live in places where (until US involvement) they were not allowed to work or contribute to their families. Many are single mothers struggling to survive with multiple children. Your letters are translated for her and when you receive her letters they will be written in her hand and there will be a translation stapled to the original letter.
If you are not able to make the $25/mo. commitment, there are also ‘one time’ donations AND a new feature that is great is the WFW Virtual Bazaar -where the actual crafts made by these women are sold on line. Last Christmas all my closest girlfriends received beautiful beaded Afghan bracelets. This year the selection is larger --and seriously...how cool is it to give someone wool slippers knitted by hand in Bosnia...or a necklace from Afghanistan? You can go here to Shop the Bazaar.

I will tell you that the letters coming from Afghanistan are rare as most of the women can't read and write- which means they must dictate to the over-worked staff. I believe that in almost three years I have only received two letters (the women are only in the program for 6 months, but the longer you remain a sponsor the more women they can admit to the programs). However, my 'sister' from Bosnia has been out of the program for two years and we still write at least every month (luckily she has a neighbor that can translate letters for her and he just got a computer so we can now email!) I wanted to show you one of the first letters I received from her...this beautiful women who has yet to be able to return to her home...and somehow her letters are so full of hope...and kindness.

"Dear friend and sister A_______,
How are you and your family? I know I can call you my sister and my friend as you have nice heart and soul and you care for people in Bosnia after that terrible war. What you and other women from American do means that you have much love in your heart, much humane honor and other nice things. I can not find right words to thank you and your family and other women of your beautiful country for sponsoring women in Bosnia. I can feel inner happiness and I know that your noble heart beats for me and helps me to overcome this difficult period of my life.
I believe that the great distance, big ocean or big mountains cannot stop people to be together. I would like to live a dignified life as you do.
We live in a town called B_______/Middle Bosnia. My husband has been unemployed since the war started. I do handiworks and we are trying to survive somehow.
Dear A_____, there are so many things in my and my husband's life to write about, the town that we live in, but I leave it for next letters. I hope that you will write about you and your family and other things that happen in the world.
I will close now. I wish you and your family much happiness and joy. God bless you all. Many greetings and kisses from your sister and friend N____ and her husband A____."

Do you see what I mean...how sweet is she?! I have stacks of letters like this one, and no matter how many times I read them -they always make me smile.

So, if N____'s plight, kind words and gentle heart has moved you....you can sponsor one of these wonderful women too...start by going HERE.
If you can only commit to a one time donation -Go HERE.
OR, if you want to give some great and very meaningful Christmas gifts this year Shop the Bazaar!

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