Ruchira from the Accidental Blogger called me up the other day to tell me she was very passionate about a new cause she was supporting called Save A Mother. She asked if I could highlight the cause here on SM (I urge you to check their website for more info):
India Development Service (IDS) Save-A-Mother project aims to minimize suffering and death associated with pregnancy and child birth. We have been working in partnership with local NGOs in the state of Uttar Pradesh, India, which has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world. Many other regions in India and rest of the world are in a similar situation where this program can be replicated.
Save-A-Mother programs educate women about pregnancy, nutrition, immunization, delivery and care of the child. Save-A-Mother has a complementary benefit in saving the child also.
1. Decrease maternal mortality by 50% in Sultanpur in 5 years. (Pilot Project)
2. Replicate this model to two more districts in 2 more years and institutionalise the program.
3. Replicate the program to vulnerable districts where mortality exceeds the national average.
4. Partner with NGOs in other high MMR countries [Link]
p>Ruchira said that the Chicago-based organizers are primarily looking for involvement via the donation of money. They have a dedicated core of organizers and volunteers, including Ruchira, but they were having some trouble spreading the word and gathering contributions for their efforts, especially from the younger demographic. This led to a conversation between myself and Ruchira as to why it is often difficult to find donations from the under-40 crowd. I attribute it to several reasons:
p>1) Younger potential donors usually want to donate more than money. They typically have youthful energy and a full supply of idealism. Thus, they want direct involvement, not simply involvement by proxy.
p>I know this is true of me. I give money to charities every year, but I feel like I am making more of an impact (whether or not I really am) when I donate time and effort instead of just money. When the earthquake hit Haiti I read a couple of good articles about how it is often counterproductive to donate anything BUT money.
p>2) There is a greater social (and personal) cache that comes with starting your own cause than in supporting an existing one. And it sometimes looks good on your resume and helps “pick up” guys/girls.
p>In the desi community it seems like everyone I know is starting an NGO or charity or has a cause they are not just supporting, but leading. I am not questioning people’s intentions at all, but I wonder about the overall effect. How many clusters of quite similar desi NGOs/Charities/Causes are already out there but are not cooperating because everyone wants to be a leader or execute a more narrowly focused vision? I wonder if a more cooperative effort would be more productive. There is the old saying that one should “lead, follow, or get out of the way.” In the desi community most people only see two of those three options. In this day and age geography should not limit people. Sepia Mutiny is not an NGO or charity but we have successfully run it since 2004 without all of us even having met to this day.
p>3) There are just too many causes out there. I am overwhelmed. Even picking stocks seems easier.
p>In addition to all the good causes out there (desi and non-desi related) there are also South Asian American politicians asking for our donations. Many of us believe strongly in supporting those whose policies align with our own, but sometimes we also feel guilty. There is so much money in politics already. Do I give to politics and my social causes? What percentage to each? Indecision then leads to inaction which helps no one.
p>4) All our friends (except the really lazy ones) are running in that race for breast cancer/AIDS/MS etc. It slowly saps our attention span and diffuses our giving.
p>I support all those causes and I would give money to sponsor my friends for some of them (I am going to give nominal amounts to several of a large group of friends running the MS150 here in Texas). BUT…most of the people I know run races as much for themselves (goal is to get in shape or ) as the charity they are supporting. That is totally ok. Does that meet one’s yearly obligation though (assuming you believe in an obligation)? Does it then deter one from giving beyond that race?
Those are my thoughts and I have some ideas on how I would improve this “state” we are in. I’d like to hear some of yours though. Do you think there is even a problem or are you happy with the “free market” approach that exists now?