It’s already mid-December and although we live in China, Christmas decorations have gone up around town and the local Carrefour and RT-Mart are playing Christmas music. Christmas is a time when many people like to give gifts to friends and family, but for expats in China it can be difficult to send gifts to whatever country (or countries!) our friends and families are living in. If you haven’t sent those gifts months ago, you can always shop online and hope the rush shipping will make it there on time…
There is another option for gift giving or even end of the year tax breaks though, and that’s giving to a charity. You can always donate in the name of your gift recipient, and while they might have enjoyed a physical present more, perhaps they’ll be just as grateful not to have to try to figure out how to regift that panda poop tea.
Since charity giving among Chinese has dropped quite a lot this year after various charity related scandals, many charities in China could especially use the boost. Of course we don’t want to see our money siphoned off to line the pockets of dishonest charity administrators instead of really helping those it’s meant to help, so we’ve got to be careful about who we give to. I’ve put together a short list of a few charities working in China that seem fairly reputable, and of course if you’ve got more suggestions please add them in the comments!
1. Half the Sky
Dedicated to bringing the love and concern of family to thousands of orphaned children in China who have lost theirs. Their goal is to ensure that every one of China’s orphans has a caring adult in her life. They provide individual nurture and stimulation for babies, innovative preschools that encourage an early love of learning, personalized learning opportunities for older children, and loving — and most important, permanent — foster homes for children whose special needs may keep them from being adopted.
I’ve personally met Half the Sky workers in local orphanages and seen the great work they are doing. Without their help, Chinese orphanages would be a much more dismal and horrible place for kids to spend their childhoods.
Wokai is a microfinance loan provider seeking to create opportunity for those living in poverty in rural China. In their own words:
“Utilizing the principle of microfinance, we connect you with people in rural China who want to start small businesses, but just need a little help getting there. You make a tax deductible contribution to sponsor that person’s loan, watch as they grow their businesses, repay their loans, and lift themselves from poverty. At the end of the year, you re-invest your contribution and help another borrower start a businesses.”
I gave a loan through Wokai last year and earmarked it as a Christmas gift for some of my family back in the US. They really enjoyed reading the stories of those applying for the loan, choosing who they wanted “their” money to go to, and then getting to re-allocate the money after the loan was repaid.
We’ve mentioned this film being made about kidnapped children in China and we still think it’s a good cause! It explores the widespread problem of kidnapping through the eyes of parents searching for their children, as well as examining the lives of street children and adults to see what happens to kids after they’re kidnapped. The film is currently in production and is tentatively slated for release in 2012. They are still accepting donations so hurry to be a part of this before they wrap!
The Library Project donates books and libraries to under financed schools and orphanages in the developing world. They believe education is the key motivator to breaking the cycle of poverty that exists in the developing world. As they see it, education is change.
I used to work in a library before moving to China, and books have always and will always hold a very special place in my heart. I can’t imagine being without books. As I’m now a teacher, I’d love to see better education here in China. Although it’s also been mentioned on this blog several times already, I couldn’t leave it off. Building libraries in rural schools and orphanages? I can’t say no to that!
The Bright Connection is a rehabilitation center for helping children with cerebral palsy, autism, developmental delays and hearing impairments live as normal people. Located in Sanya, it was founded by Maggie and John Davis whose own adopted daughter suffers from cerebral palsy. When they discovered there were no resources to help parents with these children, they poured their hearts, time, and life savings into creating one. Over the years they have had to keep expanding the center to accommodate more and more children, including several from the local orphanage. They have been featured in the Sanya Expat website as well as the Hainan news. You can see a video about their work and “meet” some of the kids here.
Full disclaimer: I have known John and Maggie since 2005 when I moved to Sanya, and have done some volunteer work with The Bright Connection. Personally I think they are doing a great job!
Our fellow humans aren’t the only ones hoping for a bit of holiday giving. Jaiya’s Animal Rescue (JAR) in Shanghai does an amazing job running a rescue center and animal adoption events. In their words:
JAR is a non-profit small animal rescue group that is committed to protecting and improving the health and welfare of animals through pet health care, education, and the promotion of adoption / fostercare as an alternative approach to purchasing animals. We are dedicated to domestic animal population control, promoting pet adoption/fostering and reducing the incidence of abandonment.
They are currently maxed out with rescued animals and could surely use both financial support, or help with animal adoptions. Also check out our interview with JAR from last year.
Hope you have a great Christmas (or Hannukah, or birthday if you’re like me and celebrate in December) and thanks for checking out these great China Charities! And please, if you know of, or are involved with a good China-focused charity, please make mention of it in the comments.