Where to donate this holiday season

It’s holiday time! Around this time of year I see a lot of people wanting to give back, or donate which is beautiful. There are countless organizations out there where you can donate to build a library, or adopt a child. Unfortunately with some, not all the money goes to good use, some is pocketed, or sometimes things are built without proper research being done. I’ve compiled a list of a few organizations, or places to donate that I have personally seen in action. People want to know that where they’re sending money to is actually receiving it and being put to good use. So here’s my own two cents. Happy donating!

 

Bakashana

www.bakashana.org

This organization is run by former Peace Corps Volunteers and my friends that lived in the village next to where I was staying. They help girls from rural villages with funds and a home so that they can attend secondary school in town. I have met some of these girls personally and seen how excited they are about learning and how motivated they are to finish school. The girls that are chosen for this program have shown commitment to learning, and would not have been able to afford schooling without the program. At Bakashana they also help with tutoring, computer lessons, and health education. Visit the website to sponsor a girl, make a general donation, or learn more. I’d also be happy to answer any questions.

 

Restless Development

www.restlessdevelopment.org/Zambia

Restless development is a worldwide organization. What I saw of it in Zambia is that they have local youth teaching youth which I think is awesome. They came to the school I was working at and ran a fantastic program. They taught my students about everything from malaria and HIV prevention to goal planning using music, comedy, and dance. The students were engaged and excited about the topics. I’d love to see more programs like this. Visit the website to learn more, see what other countries they work in, volunteer, or donate.

 

PC Grants

www.peacecorps.gov/donate/projects

Some Peace Corps Volunteers write grants for a wide range of things. Some have building projects for boreholes, or health clinics, while some have program projects like girls or boys camp. I participated in a girls camp, or GLOW camp, run by one of these grants and it was one of the best experiences I had in my service. The girls were in a safe environment learning about confidence, goal-setting, HIV, malaria, and sexual assault. It was amazing to see them open up about some of these serious topics. You can search through the website, there’s hundreds of places to donate to. I highly suggest donating to a GLOW or girls camp if you see one, or I have a few links below for volunteers I know personally working on a few different projects.

Allison – Northwest Province – Library

Jordan – Northwest Province – Library

Ireri – Northwest Province – Maternity Ward

Colin – Northern Province – School Block

 

Insaka

www.insaka.org

Insaka was recently started by a Peace Corps Volunteer that I served with in Zambia. He has continuously worked hard, and shown passion about girls empowerment and education. Similar to Bakashana, Insaka helps connect donors to girls, so that they can access schooling and higher education. Check out the website for more information, and to help a girl out!

 

Cheetah Experience

www.cheetahexperience.com

AMAZING place! This is a big cat sanctuary/cheetah breeding and research facility. There are only about 7,000 cheetahs left in the wild and this place is working to fix that. It’s run by a few extremely dedicated, big cat loving people from all over the world. They take care of these animals so well, and put their heart into everything they do. I saw them pull 5 all nighters to take care of a sick cat. As you can imagine, vet bills are very expensive for big cats, so a lot of donations go towards helping out with them, as well as food, medications, and enrichment activities for the animals. You can also volunteer! I paid to volunteer here for three weeks in October. To volunteer is not as expensive as some other pay-to-volunteer programs. As a volunteer you get to feed, clean up after, and interact with the cats. Some of them like the caracals, servals, and a select few leopards and cheetahs you can play, or even have a sleepover with. If you donate to this place I can assure you it will be put to good use. This place is filled with so much love. Check out the website for more information!

 

Toms

www.Toms.com

We’ve all heard that Toms does the ‘one for one’ program, where for every pair of shoes you buy they donate shoes to some child in need. I haven’t seen it personally, but I’ve had a few friends working in other rural villages tell me that Toms has come to their schools to distribute shoes. So that’s comforting to see that they’re doing what they said they were! If you have any shoes to buy this holiday season I’d consider getting them from Toms!

 

World Vision

www.worldvision.org

I’m conflicted with World Vision. They certainly do a lot of work. They are all over Zambia and always moving around. I’m conflicted because what they do isn’t always the most helpful, and I feel their donations could be used in a little better ways. I’ve seen them deliver 100 Lego sets to a school, which is awesome, but the school really needs books and chalk. I’ve seen them build a toilet at the school I worked at which was great, but we already had 5 toilets, and no one uses the new one because it was close to the teachers offices. They also came in once a month to play a Jeopardy-like game with a few schools in the district which was fun but it always interrupted all day of teaching, and was always right before exams when the kids should have been studying. What my school really needed was electricity, or another classroom, which we even asked World Vision for. So I can definitely say that World Vision is very active in developing countries, and trying to help out, but I don’t think what they give is dispersed in the right way, and there is hardly any research done ahead of time.

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