You want to do some good in the world. You’ve traveled enough to know what a privilege it is to be able to drink the water coming out the tap and have your garbage collected by dedicated city workers. You are aware enough that the following facts do not surprise you:
- Almost half the world — over three billion people — live on less than $2.50 a day.
- According to UNICEF, 22,000 children die each day due to poverty. And they “die quietly in some of the poorest villages on earth, far removed from the scrutiny and the conscience of the world. Being meek and weak in life makes these dying multitudes even more invisible in death.”
- Around 27-28 percent of all children in developing countries are estimated to be underweight or stunted. The two regions that account for the bulk of the deficit are South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.
- Based on enrollment data, about 72 million children of primary school age in the developing world were not in school in 2005; 57 per cent of them were girls. And these are regarded as optimistic numbers.
- Nearly a billion people entered the 21st century unable to read a book or sign their names.
- Less than one per cent of what the world spends every year on weapons was needed to put every child into school by the year 2000 and yet it didn’t happen.*
You’ve considered spending some time doing volunteer work when you are traveling aboard but you don’t like the “pay to play” model as you are donating your time, expertise, and efforts. Why should a monetary contribution be required as well?
You’ve considered donating money to large reputable NGOs such as Amnesty International or UNICEF but you are also keenly aware of the hugeness of these organizations and that much of your donation goes towards administrative costs. You’ve wondered if aid is doing more harm than good: making some of these countries become aid-dependent, leading to a “vicious circle of aid dependency, corruption, market distortion, and further poverty, leaving them with nothing but the need for more aid.” **
There are too many elements to consider when it comes to doing good in a responsible manner. The lack of clarity in charitable giving can cause paralysis and makes the conscientious citizen throw their hands up in the air and give up in frustration.
I know. I’ve been there.
But knowing what you know and seeing what you’ve seen, doing nothing (because the complication of all the available choices) seems like the worst choice of all. So act we must.
The Mongol Rally has raised over £3 million since 2004 for charity. The charity this year is the Lotus Children’s Centre (UK registered charity); they provide primary care and education for abused, abandoned and orphaned children. Many of these were street children who had been abandoned at a very early age, and were struggling to survive in brutal conditions – Ulaanbaatar is the coldest capital-city on the planet, and in winter the temperature can fall as low as -50C. Many of the girls on the street had been abused, and some forced into prostitution at a very early age. Others are special needs children for whom there are no facilities in Mongolia. The center’s goal is to help these kids rediscover their self-esteem, and to develop their skills so that they are able to move on and lead independent lives in adulthood. Lotus receives no state support; they rely entirely on fundraising and donations to keep going. The charity has zero running costs, as all their helpers are volunteers, and the auditor gives his time for nothing. Every penny that you raise goes directly to help the children.
Intrepid Foundation (part of Intrepid Travel) is one of our sponsors and the Lotus Children’s Centre is one of the charities they support. As part of Intrepid Foundation’s support for our team, SM Stowaway, and our undertaking of this epic rally, they have pledged a matching donation for what we raise, up to $10,000 AUD.
Click Here and help us reach our charity goal of £59,001 (the current record set by a single team is £59,000).
*Source on global poverty stats: http://www.globalissues.org/article/26/poverty-facts-and-stats
** Dead Aid: Why Aid Is Not Working and How There Is a Better Way for Africa, Dambisa Moyo
*** Top photo via Sherry Otts of Ottsworld – another brave adventure filled spirit who under took the Mongol Rally last year.