Thursday, December 05, 2013

Omo Child

Warning: This is a plea for money.

A few days ago I pointed you to a NY Times article about the U.S. Navy Veterans Association, a telemarketing scheme devised by a Harvard Law graduate that raised $100 million and gave almost none of it to Navy Veterans. They were good at what they did; unfortunately, what they did was fraud, theft, and money laundering.

Keep that number in your head: $100 million raised, and almost none of it went anywhere good.

Now let me tell you about another charity: Omo Child.

It is hard to find an inhabited area of the world that is more remote than the Omo River Valley in southwest Ethiopia. A National Geographic article called it Africa's Last Frontier.

I stole this excellent National Geographic map from the Omo Child web site. I just couldn't find another nearly as good. Click on it for a better view.

The Omo Valley is home to several tribes, including (as you can see) the Mursi, Kara, and Hamar. Among some Omo tribes there is an unfortunate practice called Mingi. Simply stated, Mingi is the designation of some children as a curse on the tribe, children whose presence provokes evil spirits to withhold rain, cause illness or death, or otherwise wreak havoc on the tribe.

A child can be declared Mingi if his/her top teeth come in before the bottom teeth. Or if the child is born out of wedlock, or pregnancy occurs without the elders' consent, or if the child is a twin.

To remove the curse on the tribe, the Mingi child is killed, either by drowning starvation or by exposure.

Omo Child takes as its mission the rescue of these children, and "to provide a safe, nurturing home and quality education for Mingi children. Our hope is that these children will become future leaders in their tribes and communities." In addition, Omo Child is trying to end the practice of Mingi in the Omo Valley tribes. So far, they have been successful with one tribe, the Kara, who ended the practice a year ago.

Omo Child was founded by a member of the Kara tribe, Lale Labuko (the first of his tribe to receive an education), and an American businessman and photographer, John Rowe. Labuko is the man on the scene, and he and the organization's work are spotlighted in the December 2013 issue of National Geographic.

So far Omo Child has rescued 37 children. The children are being raised in a three-room house. They have loving nannies and the older children go to school.

Please explore the Omo Child website for more information.

Now, do you recall that number I asked you to remember?  It was how much money a sorry excuse for a human being stole from people who were trying to be helpful to others.

Right: it was $100 million.

In 2011, Omo Child had total revenues of $109,000.  Take a look at their financials. There is no fat there. There are no professional directors pulling in $500,000+ salaries.

Food for one child costs $42 a month. Nanny care for one child costs $38/mo. Sending a child to school costs $34/mo. There are other expenses, but you get the picture. It's pretty simple: a moderate contribution has a real impact because it goes to the kid.

If you're looking to get some bang for your charitable dollar, it's hard to see how you could do better than Omo Child. And the potential of these children to have a real impact on their communities and country some 20 years down the road is incredible. More bang!

Omo Child is currently conducting a year-end fundraising campaign. They are hoping to raise $30,000. Can you help them?

"It is not what we say or feel that makes us who we are. It is what we do; or fail to do."

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