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Thanks, guys, for the encouraging words - they make me feel all warm and fuzzy.

Unfortuately, the migraine I have is not very warm and fuzzy  - it's more stabby and mean - so I'm not feeling up to writing much today.  

...Except to note the huge increase in Starving-Children-in-Hellholes charity ads; it's one of the charms of the season.  I like to think of them going through whichever picturesquely impoverished bit of town they've staked out, sifting through the available urchins and only picking the prettiest ones:  "no... no... did you see the ears on that one?! ...no, cleft palate - save that one for the doctor charities... oh, this one's perfect!  She looks like a cross between a furby and Sailor Moon!  Quick, muss up her hair, and daub a few artful smudges of indigenous dirt on her!"

Seriously.  Those kids are cute.  They could be featured in the Hell-Holes of the World coffee table book  - "page 20:  Brazil, downtown Rio, the poor section.  In between piles of human feces, small attractive orphans sell themselves for heroin".

(This kind of book always seems to be available on the clearance table at Borders, along with twenty other large expensive looking books for $5.95 each!  Glossy, hard-cover values!  Perfect for people you're not really sure you want to buy a gift for in the first place!, that no-one ever sees for sale anywhere else in the store, and no-one can tell you where they get them from.  I think they spend their entire life on the clearance tables, and winter is their spawning season. )

You will never see a really unattractive child in these ads.  Sure, one or two might be a little too dirty, but there aren't any dweebs, feebs, or skeeves in this photogenically poor world that doesn't have people picking through human waste for usable garbage, no-one has open sores or unfixable medical conditions, and you'll never smell the indescribable odour that is comprised of equal parts burning tires, open sewer, rotting vegetable matter, and stagnant water.

(Though if you sniff the paper you "get a letter from your sponsored child" on really hard, you might get a faint echo of it.)

Personally, I like my money to go to people who don't have an overweening religious agenda (everyone has an agenda; it's just a question of deciding which one you can live with).  I'm a big fan of Medecins sans Frontieres - they are the doctors that will go into almost any war zone to treat people.  They'll go where the Red Cross and the U.N. fear to tread - and they'll only pull out in cases of immediate danger to their life (which happens rarely, though they get beaten up and robbed a lot).  I also like the people that go out and fix cleft palates in for kids whose parents cannot afford the (simple and cheap) operation.  Yes, cleft palates may not be photogenic, but they are one of the most common birth defects, and fixing them changes a child's life.  So, good on them - and they will also travel all over the world, regardless of risk, to help children in need.

And, you know, I'm evil, and enjoy the idea of saying "no, little Billy, you have enough stuff.  You don't need any more toys.  I'm sending your Christmas money to a child with a mouth they can't close."  And I'll steal his Wii while he's distracted with that tantrum.

Aah, Christmas.  My head hurts.


( 32 brains — Leave a chunk of brain! )
Dec. 10th, 2007 02:39 pm (UTC)
Those charities don't often survive close scrutiny.

Besides, I think I recall the "This is Maria" commercial running for at least the last ten years. Maria is likely a mama with 4 starving cute waifs of her own to pick through garbage to support her heroin habit.
Dec. 10th, 2007 02:53 pm (UTC)
Bob and I looked at each other and said "in three years, Maria will be a prostitute".

No, Consuela, you're not cute enough to be in the ad.

I think most of those kids look pissed off because their neat hairdo has been messed up for the camera crews.
Dec. 10th, 2007 03:40 pm (UTC)
I am sorry for your migraine (they suck).

However, the rest of this post? Win. My thoughts exactly.
Dec. 10th, 2007 03:46 pm (UTC)
I really, really dislike those commercials.

The one that irritates me the most is the little girl who "walks barefoot in a filthy street covered in glass, because her parents can't afford to buy her shoes."

My only thought is "You're there, put some shoes on her dickhead!!"

Those commercials irritate me on many levels, but my biggest one is that yes, there are starving kids in third world countries.. but you know what? How bout you check your neighborhood first, I bet there's some starving kids round there somewhere too.

*gets off her soapbox before she rants entirely too much*

Dec. 10th, 2007 04:25 pm (UTC)
I have thought the exact same thing. Especially about looking around your own neighborhood. I want to tell them, "It's called an Angel Tree. They're wonderful things. Found in just about every store in town, and the cool part? They help kids right in your back yard. :)"
(no subject) - lorihalia - Dec. 10th, 2007 05:07 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Dec. 10th, 2007 05:09 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - lorihalia - Dec. 10th, 2007 05:15 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - attack_laurel - Dec. 10th, 2007 06:27 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - landverhuizer - Dec. 10th, 2007 05:31 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - lorihalia - Dec. 10th, 2007 06:07 pm (UTC) - Expand
Dec. 10th, 2007 05:20 pm (UTC)
I think Operation Smile is the group that corrects facial deformities for those who can't afford it. Good group. http://www.operationsmile.org/

Edited at 2007-12-10 05:21 pm (UTC)
Dec. 10th, 2007 06:28 pm (UTC)
It is, indeed. :)

Their ads are very straightforward - a page full of kids who need surgery. Damn the cute, show us why you need our money. :)
Dec. 10th, 2007 05:27 pm (UTC)
When I went to Egypt a few years back, I went by one of those "porrest of the poor" areas. It was a garabage dump/junk yard. The houses were really made out of old cars and tin foil. However, myself and everyone else on the bus did check and, yeap, all the kids had shoes. Okay, flip flops but they had shoes.

I prefer to give my money to either the local police/fire department or to St. Josephs who actually needs beading supplies right now. Basically, keep the money local (ish) and know where it's really going.
Dec. 10th, 2007 05:56 pm (UTC)
Everywhere I go I find those annoying bell-ringers with red kettles. I politely ignore them if they ignore me, but if they try to engage I say "I find your organizations political agenda offensive and its religious proselytizing apalling. I choose to give my money to 'charities' that don't make me want to vomit."

They rememeber me next time I pass, and we go back to polite silence.
Dec. 10th, 2007 07:52 pm (UTC)
And, having been one of the people they helped--with no strings attached, and no questions about my religious affiliation--I never pass by the red kettle without dropping something into it.

My family puts a fair amount of time into Toys for Tots, as we know that the toys stay local. I feel for the Children in Hellholes, but yeah, charity begins at home.
Dec. 10th, 2007 05:57 pm (UTC)
Then there is the mail
I've always found the commercials exploitative as well.Usually I just channel surf through most of them .
My big pet peeve lately is solicitations I get in the mail all the time with little "gifts" included i.e. a nickel or address labels.I am sure they are trying to guilt people into sending money.It almost works on me but not quite.I just think the money they spend on address labels increased postage and sending nickels could be better used in their programs
Dec. 10th, 2007 06:30 pm (UTC)
Re: Then there is the mail
I love the address labels, but then I like free stuff. The begging letter? Goes in the trash/recycling.

It sounds cold-hearted, but hey, they sent me the labels free...
Re: Then there is the mail - cathgrace - Dec. 10th, 2007 08:24 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Then there is the mail - psalite - Dec. 10th, 2007 10:53 pm (UTC) - Expand
Dec. 10th, 2007 07:34 pm (UTC)
I'm big into our state's Foodbank Network. I've met too many people (lots in the SCA!) who have struggled to make the decision between food, medicine, and shelter.

After that, probaby Heifer International. The whole idea behind the organization rocks on ice. Check out www.heifer.org.
Dec. 10th, 2007 07:51 pm (UTC)
Interesting concept. Cows are a pretty inefficient food source, though.
(no subject) - tattycat - Dec. 10th, 2007 07:56 pm (UTC) - Expand
Dec. 10th, 2007 07:55 pm (UTC)
At this point, about the only charities I'm even marginally involved in are Tricoteures sans Frontieres, and knitting charities like Afgans for Afghans and the Dulaan Project. Our actual money usually goes to friends who find themselves in some sort of crunch, or to places like Donors Choose.
Dec. 10th, 2007 08:39 pm (UTC)
I find the 'charity begins at home' comment fairly incomprehensible. Here in Australia we have the giving trees and the like which are for toys for disadvantaged kids in a wealthy country. Not a bad idea, but a lot less important than stopping a child dying of starvation elsewhere. If you live in a democracy you have the opportunity to deal with issues of poverty and disadvantage through your governmental system. I don't know about the US, but in Australia there aren't any kids starving, and nor should there be in a wealthy country. So on a scale of importance, more food or more medical assistance has to come ahead of more clothes or more toys. And I just can't see that some people count more than others just because they happen to live in my country.

For my money, the best charities are those like Oxfam where you can buy a goat or some chickens or an education pack or a water purification system for a community on behalf of a friend, and the friend gets a card with a picture of your gift on it. The kids I know like the idea that a poor family has 'their' chicken.

Dec. 10th, 2007 11:13 pm (UTC)
The U.S. does not have a terribly good safety net, which is why we keep coming in low on lists of developed nations that rank health care, children's welfare, etc. So, yeah, there are children in this incredibly wealthy country that go without basic necessities. :(
Dec. 10th, 2007 10:32 pm (UTC)
Sadly, there are children dying of starvation and neglect (not to mention freezing to death) not a mile from where I live. From a purely practical point of view, it costs me less to help the locals because of the infrastructure. And because they live in a wealthy country, only a little help may be needed to lift them to the point where they can help others.

It's like the stewardess lecture; you have to take care of your own mask before you help others or you won't last long enough to do much good. Applied to the community rather than the individual it means that helping your neighbors become self sufficient (so they can join in) does more good than simply helping the desperately poor elsewhere.

My choice for charity is to give time, not money; I teach classes on how to create healthy and delicious meals on food-stamp budgets. In the process I teach nutrition, childcare, basic sanitation and first aid, and some economics. Many of my former students are now able to help others.

I'm also grooving on micro-credit.
Dec. 11th, 2007 12:39 am (UTC)
Amen, sister! I am always suspicious of things like that. I prefer to see how my money is used rather than seeing how many times little Pedro's picture has been prostituted to a number of unsuspecting souls who all think that they have "adopted" the little tike.
Dec. 11th, 2007 02:06 am (UTC)
Next time you pass through Zions Cross Roads, pull up to the abandoned motel where Rt250 comes thru, and just sit and watch the world go by..you don't need to be watching TV to see where the poor destitute children of the world are from.

But the Crescent Inn does make a fine roadkill stew so at least they are getting a meal now and then.
Dec. 11th, 2007 10:54 am (UTC)
Heh - Bob suggested we try it out for lunch last Sunday. The look on my face made him laugh.
(no subject) - bizarro_beppo - Dec. 11th, 2007 12:53 pm (UTC) - Expand
Dec. 11th, 2007 04:19 am (UTC)
migrain relief
fill a tub with water as hot as you can stand. turn the lights off, get yourself a large glass of water and a bag of ice. sit in the tub, up to sholders, ice on head, drink the water in silence.

chiropractor may help too. there are pressure points but you do not want to over stimulate them.
( 32 brains — Leave a chunk of brain! )

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