personally, i'll be spending the start of our new year caring for the sick and contagious at home. they caught colds on our recent california holiday - probably on our southwest flight back to chicago. during the six + hours in transit, inbetween drawing on a doodle pad for one child and dressing/undressing dolls for another, i actually managed to read this article in sw's spirit magazine about regifting by kimberly garza.
in the article, she recalls early memories of her mother regifting into a balikbayan box, "I got my introduction to regifting on my sixth birthday, at the hands of a true master. I eagerly ripped into a present from a classmate only to reveal an exact replica of the Dream Bride Barbie I already had. I scowled, but my mother gently placed Dream Bride Barbie back in the box. “Your cousin Eunice would like this very much,” she said. Then she turned and placed Barbie in a large cardboard box labeled “For Manila.”
sound familiar? my mom STILL does this... as does my stepsister and all of the other matriarchs of my family. i don't actually have any boxes, i just contribute to theirs... :) in addition to new "unnecessary" things that we received as gifts, we would also put our gently used things in as well. i used to think my mother was telling a stale joke saying that one could tell who our relations were in iligan because they would be wearing my old handmedowns. and then, i visited and saw for my own eyes that she wasn't kidding.
at one point, i remember complaining to my mom saying, that a balikbayan box wasn't "enough" that we could/should be doing more by donating money to charities in the philippines. but she replied that she didn't trust any organizations in the philippines, she wouldn't be able to tell if her money would actually reach any one in need or just a corrupt few. her sentiment was seconded by the other aunties and uncles i knew of her generation. unfortunately, her concerns and my father's firsthand stories of institutionalized bribery, fraud and exploitation scared me away from filipino based charities as well.
it wasn't until i went back to manila for my sister's wedding that the idea of donating to a filipino charity crossed my mind again. every so often i saw a commercial for children's hour on tv, "a fund-raising and grant-giving organization that taps individuals, employees, and corporations to donate at least one hour of their earnings once a year to fund projects committed to promote the welfare of our Filipino children". although i didn't commit to anything, i started to research other charities when i got home and found these:
gawad kalinga- translated in English means to “to give care”, and it is an alternative solution to the blatant problem of poverty not just in the Philippines but in the world. GK’s vision for the Philippines is a slum-free, squatter-free nation through a simple strategy of providing land for the landless, homes for the homeless, food for the hungry and as a result providing dignity and peace for every Filipino.
cu foundation - a non-profit, non-religious, volunteer-based charitable foundation which provides financial and educational assistance through scholarship to under-privileged children in Ballesteros, Cagayan. The Foundation further delivers requested educational resources and equipment directly to public-based Day Care centers, schools, colleges and libraries in the Philippines.
pinoy kids-envisions a stable and viable community that will uphold the rights, welfare and aspiration of filipino families especially the children towards authentic human development.
teresa charities- provide life-sustaining rice monthly to the elderly poor in Vietnam and Philippines working through a network of churches. Three dollars buys a month's supply.
children's shelter of cebu-Orphaned children in the Philippines need more than just shelter...we provide food, medicine, education and a loving home through three residences and a school.
operation christmas child-enables caring individuals, families, schools, churches, businesses, and other organisations to fill ordinary shoe boxes with small toys, school supplies, sweets, and other gifts for needy children around the world.
haribon foundation- a membership organization dedicated to the conservation of Philippine biodiversity. It aims to build a constituency for environmental issues that will call for prioritizing conservation actions on habitats and sites, based on solid scientific and socio-economic research. We are the pioneer environmental organization in the Philippines.
pearl s. buck foundation- has three distinct functions that operate as one with the common mission of continuing the legacy and dreams of Pearl S. Buck - her commitment to improving the quality of life and expanding opportunities for children and promoting an understanding of the values and attributes of other cultures, the injustice of prejudice, and the need for humanitarianism throughout the world. coincidentally, apl.de.ap of the black eyed peas was sponsored by the foundation as a child.
peapod foundation- this is the black eyed peas foundation. it supports innovative programs for children and focuses attention on universal needs including music/artistic education, shelter/housing and healthcare. some of the donations go directly to charities in the philippines.
wikipedia also has a long list of charities in the philippines here.
honestly, even after all that reading, i was still having trouble getting over my handmedown biases. finally early in december, i ended up donating two shoeboxes to operation christmas child - one for a girl the same age as the paloma and another for a boy the same age as the porkchop. although samaritan's purse sends boxes to the philippines, i couldn't specifically request where our boxes would go. in a way, i felt like operation christmas child was the best of both worlds - a box of gifts coupled with a charity that also served children in the philippines.
i am disappointed in myself for not doing more, for not taking a larger leap of faith. but, i took an itty bitty teensy weensy baby step which is better than nothing i guess... and tomorrow, i'll have a whole 365 more days to take a few more.