For this quarter I decided to concentrate on the world at large. The three organizations I chose focus on either improving the third world or helping the environment, or both. My contributions, like always, were small, but I hope they helped the recipients.
One Laptop Per Child
I have been interested in the One Laptop Per Child project since I first heard about it a couple of years ago. In short, researchers from MIT have been working on an ultra-cheap, portable, durable laptop suitable for aiding and enhancing childrens’ education, especially in developing nations.
Further, the reasoning behind the project is something I believe in wholeheartedly – that children can benefit enormously from new technology if it is easily accessible and presented in the right way; technology is secondary to the idea that education is what is necessary to pull developing nations into the first world, and it is the responsibility of developed nations to help do so.
And, on a lesser note, the new technology being developed for this project is just cool. The computers form mesh networks, are based on linux, and can be used for several different functions from e-mail to e-book reading and sharing.
The project is nearing its finishing stages, with some countries having already placed orders and the first units ready for sale this fall.
Kiva.org has gotten a lot of press as one of the cooler ways to donate recently. Actually, they are not technically a donation recipient as they pass on the money, in the form of a microloan to those who need it. They boast of a very high success rate, based on the number of people who receive loans, use them to do what they need, and then repay the loan provider.
For example, I signed into the site and looked for people who were requesting loans. I found Chung Por Yip, a woman in Samoa, who was looking for about $300 USD in order to expand her vegetable garden, and I decided to help. I made the donation in late August and I have not had much feedback yet, to know whether or not she met her goal and how well she is progressing on her project, but I’m not worried about it. The amount I lent was small enough that I am willing to write it off as a donation should she be unable to repay it.
Having said that, I hope she does repay the money, not because I need it, but because I would see it as proof-of-concept. Having her repay me would mean that there are alternatives to massive loans and burdens of debt for the third world.
Worldchanging is an organization dedicated to raising awareness and activism for environmental issues through education about green lifestyles and technologies. Their book is on my list of ones I should get, just as soon as I have enough money and some room on the to-be-read shelf; their book, like the website, has a strong focus on things you and I can do to help protect and / or restore the environment.