A practical post

Vox had an interesting article about the meme that the media ignored the Beirut bombings in favour of Paris.  Essentially, the article points out that, actually, the media writes quite a lot about bombings in Beirut, and Kenya, and Turkey, and Tunisia, and Bangkok, and elsewhere.

It’s just that nobody reads these articles.

As a case study of sorts, here’s what my Saturday looked like.  I woke up when my German penfriend sent me a text saying ‘Terrible things happening in Paris’, and when I opened Facebook (which I realise is not actually a news aggregation service, but does work quite well as one in most circumstances) to see what was going on, all I could see was posts about how everyone was ignoring Beirut.  Which was interesting, but, actually, I really wanted to know what was going on in Paris!  It wasn’t that Beirut didn’t deserve attention, it was that for me, I know and love Paris, my family has friends there and I have friends from there.  So to me, what happened in Beirut is awful, but what happened in Paris is personal. Reading about it hurt.

Would I have gone conscientiously in search of articles about Beirut without the comments on Facebook appearing?  Probably not.  I am actually rubbish at keeping up with the news outside of certain highly specific areas, which is why I use Facebook as my personal news aggregator.  And I do not deny that this is a failing on my part.  Because I can’t follow everything, I tend to follow things that are local and that I might be able to have some effect on, and things happening in countries where I have friends – so yes, Europe, the Americas, and also Tunisia and, in the past, Mozambique.

But I do wish, a little, that I could have just grieved for Paris without having to feel guilty about all the other things I wasn’t grieving for.  It’s an odd thing, and I don’t know how to express it without feeling that I am belittling someone else’s pain.

I’m not sure what the answer is.  I think we are more affected by things we have a personal connection to, and I think that’s OK, so long as we don’t forget that our personal connections aren’t the whole world.

Anyway.  In the spirit of inclusiveness AND of practicality, I was going to make a list of places where terrible things have happened recently that you may or may not know about, along with some charities that are trying to address them.  But of course, most charities do not address events specifically, and also, a lot of terrible things have happened in a lot of places recently, and it’s difficult to know where to start – or where to stop.  (Vox, in particular, linked to quite a few good ones in that first article above.)

And, frankly, there are enough articles out there about terrible things that humans are doing to each other.  I think we need more articles about humans trying to help each other.

So here are some charities that are doing interesting and inspiring work in a variety of places who need it.  I apologise that I don’t have any exciting African charities on this list – I will try to find and add some in the next few days, but most of the ones I could see were fairly generic.

Feel free to add your favourites in the comments.



Syria and Syrian Refugees

  • Groups who are helping the Syrian Refugees – I started collecting charities from this article, and then I realised that I was basically quoting the whole article.  And there are some really cool charities here, from ones organising education for refugee children, to a German organisation that helps refugees find accommodation, AirBnB style, and of course, some basic medical and material aid charities.  I have to say, this article was one of the most cheering things I’ve read all week.

Turkey and the Kurds

  • The Kurdish Human Rights Project – this project seeks to raise awareness of the situation of the Kurds in Iran, Iraq, Syria, Turkey and elsewhere, end violations of their rights, and eradicate torture both in Kurdish regions and globally.
  • Women for Women’s Human Rights – an independent women’s non-governmental organization (NGO) that aims to promote women’s human rights, equality and non-discrimination in Turkey and on the international level
  • Turkish Red Crescent – just in case anyone doesn’t know this already, the Red Crescent is the Muslim equivalent of the Red Cross, and does the same sort of work.

Other charities that are awesome

Médecins sans frontières (doctors without borders) – I’m very fond of this group, and they’ve had a rotten week, what with having a hospital bombed in Afghanistan. MSF provides humanitarian medical aid to anyone who will let them, and are fairly determined about it.  They are absolutely non-political, which, from what I gather, is an increasingly difficult and painful line to walk (particularly when it is governments or pseudo-governments who are responsible for the injuries you are trying to heal).  Full disclosure – I’m related to someone who volunteers with their board, and so I get MSF anecdotes, and they sound like a bunch of highly idealistic and competent adrenaline junkies, so how can I not like them?

Shelterbox – This group deliver boxes of essentials to displaced people.  The boxes contain a tent, camp cooking equipment, sleeping bags, tools, utensils – essentially your survival basics if you suddenly find yourself homeless.

Amnesty International – you’ve probably heard of this lot…

New Tactics in Human Rights – this seems to be a resource for people trying to figure out how to address a human rights issue or start a campaign.

Jewish Christian Muslim Association – an Australian organisation aiming to increase bonds of friendship between people of different faiths, and to reduce racism, intolerance, bigotry and violence and the associated emotional harm through creating and providing forums for interfaith dialogue and shared experience.

(And, random thought caused by impending Christmas madness – charitable donations can make good Christmas presents.  If you are trying to work out what to get for the person who has everything, consider asking whether he or she has a favourite charity to support…)

2 thoughts on “A practical post

  1. One more for your list of charities: Givewell (http://www.givewell.org/). They apply sophisticated mathematics to the question of getting the most effect for your charity dollar. As as result, they tend strongly toward highly specific causes that are tackling a single problem each in a very targeted way, but they’re undeniably doing good.

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