WORTHY recipients include schools, orphanages, foster homes, libraries, community centers, hospitals, NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations). NGO is a term popularized by the United Nations in 1945 and refers to organizations that operate independently from any government or for-profit business.
Use the Internet to locate contacts (here) in the U.S.A. including:
- The country’s embassy in Washington, D.C.
- The country’s consulate in a nearby city.
- Local fraternal organizations (Elks, Kiwanis, Moose, Rotary)
Recollection: Using the Internet I found information about the Rotary in Ajijic, Mexico, (south of Guadalajara) and emailed one of the members listed on their website. This helpful Rotarian, Mac W., in Ajijic, helped us locate Love In Action Center for Children, a nearby orphanage (one of several in the area) where we could donate our suitcase filled with 50 pounds of children’s Spanish-English books, toys, and “goodie” bags. www.loveinaction.org
- Your own university, fraternity, sorority, club, church.
Recollection: Peruvian, Ricardo Behar, owner of Tres Keros Bar and Gourmet Restaurant in the Urubamba Sacred Valley, who attended Kelley’s alma mater, the University of Michigan, introduced us to an American ex-pat, Linda O., who served there in the Peace Corps in the 1960s and married a local man. Linda drove us to a local Habitat for Humanity preschool and an elementary school where we donated Spanish-English children’s books, soft toys, and school supplies.
Photos above: Kelley reads to boys in an Urubamba, Peru, preschool (left and center); while ex-pat Linda O. (right) and children explore the contents in the goodie bags. Our gifts of Spanish-English children’s books greatly increased the preschool’s little library.
Photos: Elementary school children in Urubamba in Peru’s Sacred Valley thank us with songs and stories during our visit gifting Spanish-English children’s books and toys. A former teacher, Mary Jean, told the elementary school teachers that they have one of the most important jobs in the world, generating broad smiles. Fluent in Spanish, American ex-pat, Peace Corps veteran, and now a local, Linda O. (on right), urged the teachers to give the toys as rewards for outstanding scholarship, leadership, helpfulness, good citizenship, etc., and to put the books in the school library.
Use the Internet to locate contacts (there) in the country you will visit including:
- The U.S. embassy/consulate.
- Schools, hospitals, orphanages, NGOs, community centers, libraries, churches.
Already Existing Organizations. Many non-profits with missions to help poor children around the world already exist. If you know of one that appeals to you, contact it. Perhaps one of these organizations will appeal to you:
- International Refugee Committee
- International Red Cross
MAKE INITIAL CONTACT by telephone, e-mail, or regular mail. Embassies and consulates have staff or volunteers who assist with queries. On-site ex-patriot (ex-pat) Americans often sponsor outreach projects. Someone will help you or put you in touch with an appropriate person inside/outside their office.WHAT TO SAY when making your first contact. Introduce yourself saying, “My name is … I live in… I will be visiting … (destination) in … (month).” Explain what you want to do “I want to give … (school supplies, toys, clothes) … as gifts to local children.”
It is not always possible, but with assistance you may be able to locate a specific organization if you identify your interest by saying, “I would especially like to give gifts to a young girls’ orphanage/foster care.”
“Can you help me OR help me find an organization and contact person?” Do you have the contact person’s name, email, (land) mail address, telephone number?”
AFTER you have made contact with an appropriate person, repeat what you want to do. Ask to deliver your gifts during an on-site visit conducted by a staff person or volunteer. If you reach an organization that you want to work with and then you communicate with a senior staff person, ask for a letter, on letterhead stationary, stating that the items you will be taking into their country are for charity, perhaps designated as an American 501 (c) (3) nonprofit, so you won’t have problems with customs officials who might confiscate your gifts or charge you duty.
Recollections: I had positive interest and feedback from individuals I’ve spoken to while researching a worthy recipient organization.
Our U.S. embassy in Hanoi put us in contact with a woman who suggested three possible recipient organizations. We contacted all three but only one responded and not until we were in Hanoi. (We took our gifts anyway.) A young volunteer contacted us by telephone at our hotel and suggested we taxi to a local children’s hospital and meet him there at a prearranged spot. When we arrived, at our request he walked us to the cancer ward where we gave each child a sticker and left a large, plastic garbage bag full of soft toys for all the young patients to share and play with in the (nearly empty) playroom.
Photo: My white, panda hand puppet gives stickers to shy, polite children being treated in the cancer ward of a children’s hospital in Hanoi, Vietnam.