Causes That Need Your Help - Now!
For Those Who Want to Fight Injustice
How can I make a difference? Where can I help people? What can I do with my life to make the world a better place? If these are questions you are asking, here is a list of causes that need your help NOW. Every day that goes by, more people die, more families are torn apart, and the harder it becomes to turn these issues around.
As I'm writing this article on my personal laptop, I'm sitting on a comfortable couch, almost bursting out of my American Eagle clothing because of the extravagant lunch I just had, watching a huge flat-screen TV. Meanwhile, in Asia, Africa, South America, and my very own city, there are people who are being abused, abandoned, and left starving. I want to make more of a difference. If you do to, keep reading.
The following causes are big problems that can be improved with small changes. Take a look at these and start thinking about what you can do to make a difference. Read "The Problem" and decide if you want to help a little bit using the "What You Can Do Now" section, or a bit more with the "Bigger Commitment" paragraph, or finally, if you really want to get involved in the cause, consider "The Adventure" to learn how to go all out for the cause.
We will all leave a legacy. Do a few things to make sure that yours is positive.
The Problem: About 15 million children die every year from malnutrition. Economists estimate that it would cost about $30 billion a year to eliminate malnutrition in children under five. This sounds like a lot doesn't it? Well, here's something crazier - American's spend $60 billion a year on dieting programs! If Americans controlled their own diets, and gave the money they would have spent on learning how to stop eating to feed the hungry, it would be double the amount required to eliminate world hunger in children!
What You Can Do Now: There are a lot of things you can do to help the hungry at home at abroad. Firstly, consider feeding someone every time you buy a meal. Think about it, if you paid for one persons meal every time you ate, you would be keeping one child alive. One of the best ways I believe that this can be done is through World Vision. For just over $1/day (not even the cost of a meal at Taco Bell), you will be providing a child with food, clean water, and an education. It's good to give a man a fish when he's famished - but teaching him to fish will eliminate this problem in the future.
Bigger Commitment: Do you want to get into shape AND help those in need? Drop your gym membership and drop your cable connection. The reason American's are obese is because we spend too much time sitting in front of the TV. I am confident that it will be much easier for you to get in shape without the ability to watch TV for hours. Why drop the gym? The gym can make you buff, but not healthy. A healthy lifestyle comes from being active all day long - not just for 30 minutes 3 times a week. Once you're healthy, if you want to build up your arms, go back and get that membership. Meanwhile, the $100/month that you're saving you need to immediately commit to feeding the hungry.
The Adventure: If you would like to invest more time and money into making a difference, you could spend a year or two working with non-profits either raising money or providing aid. If you learn the basics of gardening or farm care you can travel to another country and educate the locals on how to grow crops and care for animals that can provide them with a living.
The Problem: All around the world women are being taken from their homes and sold to pimps and wealthy men as personal sex slaves. Often these are girls rather than women - teenagers taken from unaware parents wanting to give their daughters a chance to find success, only to be sold into a life of abuse and drugs. If you've ever watched the movie Taken, you have a vague understanding of what goes on - the movie is not an exaggeration, this actually happens.
What You Can Do Now: Treat the men around you as valuable. The majority of men who get involved with prostitutes are men who feel alone and neglected. Whether they find a local woman or travel to the sex capitals of the world such as Bangkok and Amsterdam, usually they are simply looking for companionship. Care for the people in your neighborhood, at your work, and within your own family. If men feel valued, they will be less likely to seek value in prostitution. Additionally, minimize your own involvement with media that promotes sensuality. By boycotting media that objectifies women, you can minimize their effect on you and weaken their stand in society.
Bigger Commitment: Treat women with respect. Young girls and women who dress provocatively are often looking for attention - if you can give it to them in a positive way, they won't seek it out in harmful venues. Take it a step further and find women that are already involved in prostitution - and treat them like princesses. Love them and accept them for who they are - your thoughtfulness can change their lives.
The Adventure: Spend a year and go to Thailand to fight the sex trade. How? Get involved with the MST Project, a Christian run organization in Bangkok focused on ending the sex trade by ending the demand. My brother was involved with this project. This group walks the streets of the red light district and contacts men who are entering brothels. Because many of these men are simply looking for companionship, when a couple of people come up and are willing to talk to them (and mention the devastation that the sex industry is having in Thailand), a good number of them realize they can find contentment other ways.
The Problem: Currently there are 42 million refugees in the world along with many other people who live in nations where they are treated unjustly. Imagine living in a tent or worse, a concentration camp. Countries such as Somalia and North Korea are filled with people treated like they're worthless. Additionally, refugees are often unable to work - which implies that they are unable to add to the over all economy of the world. By helping refugees adjust into the world, you will be attacking many problems at once. Whether they are war refugees, or flood refugees such as those from Hurricane Katrina and the tsunami in Japan, your help can make a difference.
What You Can Do Now: Donate to groups like ADRA that provide relief and first-response to those displaced from their homes. These people need immediate care and a few dollars provided to organizations that help with this can make a world of difference to someone.
Bigger Commitment: Volunteer with the Red Cross. After the tornadoes that struck the southern United States, my brother and I spent a week working with the Red Cross in Tennessee to assist in disaster recovery. We had just finished our final exams and decided to take an extra week before going home - it was well worth it. Although timing is tricky, if you can be one of the first to respond to those in need, the reward of knowing you made a difference is well worth it.
The Adventure: North Korea treats its citizens terribly. There is a group that works hard to provide for those who escape the cruelty of the North Korean dictatorship. This group is LiNK. If you are interested in spending a semester driving around the country putting on presentations, using your summer to help plan fundraising strategies, or live for a couple of years in Asia helping people escape to freedom, LiNK has a place for you. Check out their website and learn how you can make a difference.
Can I Really Make a Difference?
There's an old story about a man who was walking down the beach. He noticed that this beach was completely covered with starfish - washed up the night before. As he continued to walk along he saw a man who was picking up the starfish, one at a time, and throwing them back into the ocean.
The first man asked the second, "Why are you throwing them back in? There are thousands of them! You'll never be able to make a difference."
The second man paused for a moment, reached down and picked up another one, threw it into the ocean, and said, "To that one I made a difference."
These causes may seem overwhelming. No, you will never be able to feed every starving child or free every sex slave. But you can do your part to change just one life. And you can encourage your network of friends and family to change just one life as well. If enough people decide to make "insignificant" improvements to the world, we will leave the world significantly better.
I look forward to hearing how your involvement in making the world a better place has improved your life. Leave your comments below.