Change Your Habits, Change The World
For Christmas this year, my sister and I decided to forgo the traditional gift giving and instead, donate money to a charitable organization of our choice.
Why would I suggest such a thing?
Well, to be honest, Christmas gift giving feels very forced, consumeristic, wasteful and inconvenient. Sure, it's fun to surprise the people you love, but for the most part, the whole thing feels very obligatory (hence, not fun at all.) In 2018 I want to start "practicing what I preach." If I want to live in a more just world, then I have to break the cycles that prevent me from doing so, such as being an active participant in a holiday that promotes waste and thoughtless consumption. You can read more about my thoughts on this subject here.
So, which organizations did we pick?
My sister opted to donate to an organization called Presenscia in Brookhaven, GA. The organization focuses on mentoring and tutoring children from immigrant families. Because the immigrant parents are struggling to work full-time jobs, learn English, and navigate life in a new country, Presenscia steps in to make sure the children are cared for. You can read more about this organization here.
I, on the other hand, was having a hard time deciding which organization I wanted to give my money to, especially since there are so many incredible organizations out there. I had recently heard a podcast interview with comedienne Tiffany Haddish and she mentioned a charity that broke my damn heart. She grew up in the foster system and mentioned that they often move you from home to home without much warning. When a child is displaced, they often cram the child's few belongings into trash bags. Not only does The Felix Organization offer fun activities for foster children such as overnight camps, but they also give children suitcases to put their belongings in. Instead of being moved around like trash, the suitcases give children a sense of adventure, as if they are going on a trip.
The others that were on my list include, Girls Write Now, a writing mentorship for young girls, and The Keep a Breast Foundation, an organization that promotes the early detection of breast cancer via art and educational programs.
Instead of donating to any of the organizations listed above, I decided to buy my niece a shirt from Sudara that says "future world changer." I opted for this option because this Certified Benefit Corporation teaches women who have escaped from, or at the highest risk of, human trafficking women in India, how to earn a dignified living. Sudara empowers these women by teaching them to sew and then paying them a living wage. They also offer training programs, so that the women can go on to start their own tailoring businesses or even explore other career options such as cosmetology. You can read more about this wonderful organization here.
Changing My Habits for a More Just World
Even as a child I've found it incredibly unfair that some people are born into comfortable lives full of endless opportunities while others are born into ones rife with strife. I challenge anyone reading this to start upholding the ideals that you hold so true. For some, that may mean making a monthly donation to a charity that speaks to them. For others, it might mean incorporating a meatless Monday into your week, mentoring at-risk youth, or choosing to wrap your sustainable gifts with old newspapers. We all have the power to change the world, one habit at a time. Good luck :)