Monday, December 21, 2009

Child Sponsor

I've been sponsoring a child through Compassion International since 1996; she lives near Phitsanulok (พิษณุโลก) in Northern Thailand. I chose a Thai girl because many girls from poor families are sold into prostitution there. Anyway, over the past 14 years, I've donated ~$4000... hopefully it has helped her live a better life. Since she is about to turn 18, my sponsorship will end soon. I've inquired into a scholarship for college but her school performance is only "average" so I'm not sure if she's able to attend.

Looking to sponsoring another child, I found a charity called Half the Sky Foundation through a book I'm reading. I did some research and they were highly rated on Charity Navigator. Basically they help run programs at orphanages in China for children with birth defects. With China's one child policy, often babies born with any defects are abandoned by their parents. I thought this was a worthwhile charity so I sent in some money to sponsor a child for one year. Since they allow you to choose which orphanage, I asked to sponsor a child in Chengdu; the orphanage appears to be very close to PMI's new factory.

I received an email this evening with the child's info and now I'm a bit depressed. It's a little baby boy born on 7/30/09 and the English translation says he only has one arm. The original Chinese report is more specific: he is missing his right forearm. He's only been at the orphanage since September and he is "thin and small" per the report. Hopefully they can help him gain some strength and maybe I can visit during my next trip to Chengdu.

Sigh... it's hard not criticize the Chinese government in this situation when you read about stuff like this.
$73 billion a year on banquets

Heavy consumption of hard alcohol is a common aspect of business and government functions, where “gan bei,” or “bottoms up,” is the standard toast. Academic researchers have estimated that government officials spend $73 billion a year of public funds on banquets – one-third of what Chinese citizens spend on eating out annually.

That's an absurd amount of money wasted on food and alcohol instead of social welfare for its citizens. Less than 1% of that money ($750 million) is enough to help millions of orphaned kids. Instead, NGOs have to rely on laowais* like me for donations.

*OK, I'm not a real laowai...

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