21 September 2006

Humanitarian Aid Tips

The ward we're currently going to had a humanitarian aid fest last night. I have a few suggestions about humanitarian aid projects after spending time in Central Asia and the Middle East and seeing how aid is used and not used in those countries:

Find out what current needs are. Yes, a baby blanket might be quick to make and you've heard so many stories about babies who need blankets that you feel good when you give one away, but sometimes they aren't needed. There's not much point in making something that will be stored for a while (and wastes money storing it) when there are other things that are needed now. The current needs page is updated regularly; make or donate those things. If there is a Humanitarian Center near you, ask there for suggestions. Sometimes they have other ideas that aren't on the church website.

Also, the humanitarian aid people aren't in the business of shipping your son's Eagle Scout project or your great idea to help people. Shipping is a huge expense and hassle and they're not looking for new ideas of things to send to people.

Follow the guidelines to the letter. When they say no buttons and snaps on baby clothes, don't buy clothes with them. When you've got 12 babies needing diapers changed, I promise you're not interested in snaps. Sometimes shipping can be slowed down if you don't put the right amount of items into a school, newborn, or hygiene kit. Your creativity and extra generosity make well just mean more work for someone else.

Stick to the basics. While it's nice to make a newborn kit with all girl stuff or all boy stuff, it's just as likely that that kit will end up with the opposite gender than it was intended for. A tied quilt can be just as beautiful (and more durable) than a beautifully pieced and hand-quilted quilt. If you've got time for the extras like that, great, but it's not necessary.

Money is always a good choice. Items are good when there is an emergency, but things like quilts and clothes can often be purchased more cheaply in country than trying to ship them from Salt Lake to all corners of the world. The humanitarian aid missionaries we've known in Central Asia and the Middle East usually donate items purchased in country instead of items shipped from Salt Lake. Money goes towards buying furniture for blind schools, giving pregnant goats to families, remodeling rooms in nursing homes and so much more. Your money will be put to good use, and often to better use that you think it might be.

The number one goal of supporting humanitarian aid is not to make you or your children feel good. It is to get desperately needed help and supplies to people all over the world. Feeling good should be a nice benefit, but remember what your goal really should be and work toward that.

No comments:

Post a Comment