I read Lucid Gypsy’s reblog of Inside Out Cafe’s review of “A Small Act: Documentary.” It’s about a woman, Hilda Back, a Holocaust survivor, who donated $15/quarter to a Kenyan boy named Chris Mburu, so he could go to school in his village. He went on to go to Harvard University, graduate, and start a foundation in her name, to help others.
I admit, I’m one of those people who look upon these solicitations on TV or print with much skepticism. I’ve heard and read accounts of how many non-profits are so cumbersome to operate that a large percentage of the donations do not actually reach the intended recipients.
There are the scammers who solicit for various beneficiaries like the police, the military, firefighters, the homeless, etc., but really, their organization is far from legitimate. I’ve discovered, after our company was victimized, that much of their claims are false. One that comes to mind is this very pushy phone solicitor, who would call our office at least once every few weeks, claiming to represent various injured police officers in the Bay Area. He would badger our staff with a solicitation. One day, we called a few of the precincts in our area. Boy! We were not surprised hear them disavow any connection to any such activities.
This does not mean, however, that I’ve stopped trying. A few years ago, a former schoolmate asked me to join him in funding a scholarship in the name of a fellow schoolmate, Chic Migallos, who succumbed prematurely in her 40’s to breast cancer. He wanted to establish this educational program in her name. We would all donate, on an annual basis, $100 per child to fund the education of children with committed parents. We were to see them through their elementary school graduation, which is grade 7 in the Philippines.
My friend, Terence, would painstakingly call, email, send envelopes to everyone who cared to join the cause, and collect the needed funds for these children every year. He established liaison in Manila, more friends from school, who would ensure that the funds would be spent for the chosen children, and that the families would spend the money for their child’s education.
I chose to fund two children. Over the years, I would occasionally receive a hand-made holiday card, a letter, or a copy of a report card. Every so often, I’d communicate with Terence by phone. He has kept in touch with Chic’s family.
We are now at the end of the commitment. The children would be graduating soon. I have expressed my interest in funding them through high school. I sincerely believe that a high school education would make an even bigger difference in their lives. I am still hoping we will continue to see these children through their more turbulent years ahead.
Gilly’s reblog was very inspiring. Yes, there are so many unsung heroes out there, performing small acts of kindness, so that others may improve their lives. We only have to look around us. There is so much we can do, to make a difference in people’s lives. We don’t always need the hype-driven programs we see on TV nor the solicitations mailed into our homes. Nor do we have to look very far.