Inspired by Betty Londergan's What Gives 365 and the Bible (not necessarily in that order!), I'm giving away $250 a week in 2011.

This is where I'm recording that journey, and I hope you'll come along for the ride.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Surviving Five in Tanzania

We have four kids. When our youngest turned 5 last year, I cried. It felt like a 'big birthday' to me, although at the time I wasn't sure why. Although I'm sure it was partly about not having any preschoolers in the house anymore (I can still hear my husband cheering...), I think there was something larger going on.

For those of you that know me, it will likely come as no surprise that my choice for our first donation, on this our first 'international Friday,' is World Vision. I landed my dream job at World Vision Canada straight out of university. It took me to Eastern Africa several times a year. I had the privilege of seeing World Vision's work firsthand in countries such as Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia and Kenya. I met the people whose lives were being changed as a result of a lot of hard work and of the generosity of Canadians who might themselves never get there to see it. But I also saw kids who were still sick and dying from things that I knew were easily preventable.

Worldwide, more than 1000 children under the age of five die every hour of every day -- read that again -- most of them from things we know how to prevent and/or treat, such as malnutrition, diarrhea, pneumonia or malaria.

It's unbelievable to me  -- wrong somehow -- that I haven't been to Africa in 15 years. It feels as though it's always with me. I miss the singing most. I wish I could go back now to do the job I was hired to do then. I think I'd be better at it in lots of ways. Or maybe just different. Because although the work touched me deeply, I would be less analytical about it than I think I was then. I'm a mom now. I wonder if I'd cry more -- or just get really, really Mama Bear mad.

I try to communicate some of what it was like to my kids. Our three girls and one boy sponsor three girls and one boy in Mtinko Area Development Program in Tanzania. Recently, we wanted to make a non-sponsorship donation to a project in the same region, and were directed to the Survive Five initiative. World Vision is partnering with CIDA, UNICEF and local governments to provide things my own kids don't need, take for granted or even turn their noses up at: vaccines, antibiotics, nutritional supplements, mosquito nets and training. World Vision's involved in 12 communities in Tanzania -- as it turns out, Mtinko is one of them.

My eldest daughter wants nothing more than to visit Africa. And I'm hoping to be able to join her there sometime soon. When we go, we'll visit Asha, Aisha, Yasinta and Yasini, whose pictures are on our fridge. By then, each of them will be over five years old. I hope that lots of other kids in their community will have survived to five as well, in part because of the good work World Vision is involved in there.

Five is a big birthday, and not just because it marks the start of senior kindergarten.

You can get involved in helping kids Survive Five too by clicking here or in Canada calling 1-866-595-5550. And thanks to Ellen for the photo.


  1. Awesome Rebecca! Excited for you and Hannah as you dream about the idea of visiting your sponsor community in Tanzania...

  2. I'm curious - will each of your Fridays of the year be to a different agency/individual? I'm curious about the different benefits of ongoing giving to one organization vs. giving to a wider group of organizations.

  3. That's one of the questions that actually led to this blog, so I'm hoping others will join this conversation. At first I thought it would always be preferable to give larger donations to fewer organizations, but recently I'm not so sure. Not that it's always better to go the other way either -- just that I think both can be helpful in different ways, for the organization(s)and its beneficiaries as well as for the giver(s). I wonder if it partly depends on the size of the organization -- large organizations have a wider reach, but proportionately, my gift (even a big one for me)is very small to them. A smaller organization might benefit more from a donation, or 'notice' it more, but their impact on the ground may also be proportionately smaller. And is a donor more committed when s/he gives lots to one place than if s/he develops a somewhat weaker connection across multiple sectors and causes? At the risk of sounding patronizing as I muddle through this, if I have $100 and give $25 to each of my kids, is that of less consequence than giving $100 to one of them? I'm not sure. Over the course of a lifetime I hope to be able to do both.

    And yes -- here, the goal is to make a donation to 52 different places this year.