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View Full Version : For the cost of postage, help kids in a 3rd world country have a Christmas?



FatPalomino
Nov. 25, 2009, 03:13 PM
Twice, I wrote up a long description of the kids, their situation, and why they need your help.

Twice, it went ka-poof on me :(

The short version:
I have been studying vet med in a 3rd world country for some time now. By 3rd world, I mean kids don't have shoes, GDP of $10,000US, giardia-free water and beater cars are a luxury, dog-fighting and drug violance is out of control, no laws on parents beating kids, sewage running down the middle of the road into the ocean, families renting overcrowdedshacks without window screens to control bugs, stray dogs getting poisoned routinely for eating skinny, feral goats, and families of 10 with completely empty refrigerators.

What was the most amazing of all, was that the local families I met were some of the kindest, keenest, most compassionate people I ever met. The kids are nothing short of amazing. Their parents try so hard with the little they have. Christmas isn't in the budget for most of them, as they are just literally trying to put food on the table.

These kids are compassionate towards animals. One 10 yr old boy, Tariq, wants to be a vet. He does very well in school and eagerly helped me with the all the strays and puppies. His father, who lives in a seperate house in the area, is one of the biggest players in the dog fighting ring and rountinely gets drunk and beats Tariq. Tariq asked me to take his dog inside my home when she had puppies "so they were safe from his father." He wanted his dog to be safe, even though he never was. :cry: His dog, (Sarah, the blank and tan in the pictures) and her 8 puppies, were all safely inside, and I brought the remaining 2 pups that needed homes back to the US. One is still inside my house :D

The Hanley family asked me for help when their little white dog ChiChi got sick. They asked me to help give him medicine the vet gave them (even though they couldn't afford the vet bill, thankfully they still got the medicine they needed). It was in the refigerator. Chichi's medicine was the only thing in the refigerator. There are 7 children living in the home, and no food. I would bring them fruit that grew in my yard, and food that I didn't need, and everytime their father, PJ (who raises the kids with his 2 sisters, I don't know where the kid's mom is) was so grateful. PJ would often find neglected dogs in the neighborhood, one very sad one tied to a chain starving covered in mange, and would bring them in his house and feed them scraps, until I could get there and bring the dog to my house to rehabe and rehome it. That dog, named Dweezle, made a full recovery from the brink of death and we flew him to his adoptive home right here in Ft Collins, CO.

The compassion doesn't stop with animals in need. These kids share EVERYTHING. They are so responsible- their parents work until late at night, so they get off the bus, go home alone, change out of their uniforms, tend to the livestock, eat food if their parents left some, do their homework, go play with friends, and are always back in time to greet their parents. The kids watch over their younger siblings. The kids watch out for each other. For example, Tariq's friends always warn them if they see or hear Tariq's father around. Tariq is constantly running and avoiding his father and the beatings that occur in his presence.

I can go on and on about the kids and families I've met, and how amazing they are. They have almost nothing but would give yo the shirt off your back if you asked.

Last year, I was able to give some kids a Christmas. I went to the thrift store and spent $50 on 100 pounds worth of t-shirts, sneakers, sandals, electronics (20 question ball, cheap digital camera), silly string, popcorn kernals and candy, dog collars and leashes, and some slinkies. I threw it all in my suitcases and brought it back for the kids. It made the world of difference for these kids. PJ, who was able to buy an original Xbox to "keep the kids off the street", was so excited when I brought down our "old" grand theft auto game. The kids played it non stop for weeks.

The favorite toys were the simpliest. Tariq LOVES silly string and the slinky. The flashing light that could go on the dog's collar was a big hit. Any electronics make the kids feel like thay are special- old ipods, mp3 players, gameboys, etc. Tariq loves rabbits so I've gotten him books on them with lots of pictures. Tariq needs a microphone or headset so we can talk on Skype. The little kids love playing with toy cars and little shovels to move dirt. And all kids LOVE US branded clothing (I Love NY, Nike, etc). Sean John jeans and Nike shoes are worth their weight in gold there. The Henlay family also asked for "rice, beans, chicken, and fruit snacks" last year. Tariq loves popcorn kernals. Tariq still asks me to ship him a pool. I haven't figured that one out yet. ;)

This year, I can't bring anything back, as my time studying on island is done. But, you can help. I can PM the addresses of these kids. If you have some old clothes, old toys, old electronics you don't use, for $20-$30 you can send it USPS (use the flat rate box- anything else is 2-3x more expensive) and these kids can have Christmas. You'll be mailing it directly to the family, no middleman, and you can stay anonymous if you want. No money need to be exchanged. I won't be involved at all rather than providing the address and details. You probably won't get a thank you card from them (postage is a luxury and many parents aren't literate), but I promise you, it will make the world of difference.

Just imagine trying to live your life the right way by going to school and working, resisting temptation from the drugs, dog fights, and other money making opportunities, and then, one day, Christmas comes. And it's so different than the other years, because someone, somewhere, has recognized your good heart. Can you be that someone?

I know 3 families very well. Kids range from 3-17. There are many more kids (it mainly seems like boys?) in the neighborhood that could use a little gift. The 2 families I know very well are very deserving and extremely grateful. here's some photos of them:
(The big tan dog is my dog, that taught the kids not to be afraid of dogs, and how to teach their dogs tricks)
http://i72.photobucket.com/albums/i161/margpete/Picture4-1.png
http://i72.photobucket.com/albums/i161/margpete/Picture2-2.png
http://i72.photobucket.com/albums/i161/margpete/Picture1-3.png
http://i72.photobucket.com/albums/i161/margpete/Hanleyfamily.jpg
http://i72.photobucket.com/albums/i161/margpete/Tariq2.jpg
http://i72.photobucket.com/albums/i161/margpete/TariqandZach.jpg
http://i72.photobucket.com/albums/i161/margpete/Tariqbody.jpg
http://i72.photobucket.com/albums/i161/margpete/Zach.jpg
http://i72.photobucket.com/albums/i161/margpete/HanleyfamilyII.jpg

Have you ever seen smiles so bright?

FlightCheck
Nov. 25, 2009, 03:17 PM
please send me a PM with more details

Kairoshorses
Nov. 25, 2009, 05:53 PM
I have two boys, age 11 and 13, and we have a lot of old clothes, toys, etc. PM me, and I'll load 'em up!

sickofcollege
Nov. 25, 2009, 07:19 PM
FatPal...I just want to thank you for posting this. I really want to send them a little something. Is it possible to send food? Thanks :)

FatPalomino
Nov. 25, 2009, 07:35 PM
Food, definatly! Just make sure it'll be good in the 3-4 weeks until they receive it, esp. in hot/humid conditions. For example, I brought down sugar loaded candy instead of chocolate for them :D These kids eat just about anything.

These kids love the things they see on US TV. They want to be just the TV shows the US to be :D

The Hanley family has kids (and cousins living together) ages 3-17. Tariq is 10, his older brother is 15 or 16 now. Zachary is also 10, his little brother was is in 1st grade (6 ish?).

You guys are awesome. Really ;) I will PM the addresses.

ETA: I found some more pictures. Here's Dweezle, the dog that lived next to PJ and the Hanleys. Here's a picture of him before I left for break, starving, chained out, nothing I could do but throw him food over the fence. I left the Hanley's with food for their dog and asked them to please give some over the fence to the starving puppy.
http://i72.photobucket.com/albums/i161/margpete/Picture10-1.png

This is how fat he was when I got back to island. He had a bad irritation from the chain, and demodex mange. But, he was alive and fat, off the chain and ready to be rehabbed, which is what really mattered:
http://i72.photobucket.com/albums/i161/margpete/Picture11-1.png
Tariq 'dancing' with Dweezle:
http://i72.photobucket.com/albums/i161/margpete/Picture9-1.png
We flew him home a month later and he got an amazing home, only because of PJ's kindness.

FatPalomino
Nov. 25, 2009, 11:29 PM
shameless bump :D

rideagoldenpony
Nov. 26, 2009, 02:08 AM
Please PM me some details.

missliz
Nov. 26, 2009, 04:17 AM
Thumbs up for this!! I teach at a school for missionary kids in Rwanda, and there is so much need in Africa. Thanks for posting this and hugs to all who donate!!

FatPalomino
Nov. 26, 2009, 09:57 AM
PM Sent.

Thanks for your encouragement MissLiz!

Kairoshorses
Nov. 26, 2009, 10:04 AM
I told the boys about this, and they are really excited. We're off to Austin for T-Giving, but will be back Sunday, and we'll compile old clothes and toys then.

Missliz, if you had addresses, I bet we could find enough for them, too...we haven't "gutted" the closet, etc. for a while....and we have WAY too many toys, etc. PM me if you have them. If not, then FatPalomino's kids get the haul! ;)

Stono Ferry
Nov. 26, 2009, 10:32 AM
Send me an address please.

FatPalomino
Nov. 26, 2009, 10:41 AM
PM's sent. YOU GIRLS ROCK!

FWIW, I knew of at least 10 other families in the village, many living in the "projects", that I'm working on getting their full (proper spelling) names and proper addresses. There were SO many kids, and I got to know them all by their dog's names (I am horrible with name). It was easy to remember mine, as the only white girl on the block :) I hope to be able to get in touch with someone down there today and get all the addresses.

Kaleigh007
Nov. 26, 2009, 10:44 AM
I'm donating to the Toy's for Tots this year. There are a lot of AMERICAN kids who will wake up with nothing under the tree more so this year than other years. I also donated to local shelter's so people could have dinners on the holidays.

FatPalomino
Nov. 26, 2009, 12:35 PM
Sadly, Toys for Tots doesn't help the kids I know, many of which have NEVER EVER had a Christmas, a Christmas tree, etc. What I'm doing is bypassing employees, salaries, funradaising expenses, etc, and sending some used or unwanted things directly to kids. No one is forced to participate, but the ones who can and do, will make all the difference for these kids. It's an amazingly kind gift to give.

True, there are a lot of Americian kids without the coolest holiday gifts, and it's awesome that you can help them and that there are charities to help these kids!! But, most of the US kids at least have shoes, electricity, clean water, food, clothes on their back, and a guardian during the day. The kids I described, don't have those luxuries, so that's why I've asked for help for them. There is no charity, no food stamp agency, nothing available for them.

Toys for Tots had a revenue of $201 MILLION in 2007, and $233 MILLION in 2008. They paid $1.57 MILLION in salaries and benefits to their 14 employees. Their CEO pulls in $233,000/year. Their former president/CEO pulls in $437,576/year!!! The 2 VP's are also compensated at $195K and $180K/yr. That's awesome they can help SO MANY kids.
http://www.toysfortots.org/documents/annual_reports/2008%20IRS%20Form%20990%20(public).pdf

mroades
Nov. 26, 2009, 12:50 PM
I would love a pm, I am about to muck out my house of 6 years, and I have lots of clothes and shoes that I could send.

rideagoldenpony
Nov. 26, 2009, 01:47 PM
PM's sent. YOU GIRLS ROCK!

FWIW, I knew of at least 10 other families in the village, many living in the "projects", that I'm working on getting their full (proper spelling) names and proper addresses. There were SO many kids, and I got to know them all by their dog's names (I am horrible with name). It was easy to remember mine, as the only white girl on the block :) I hope to be able to get in touch with someone down there today and get all the addresses.

I'm so excited about this!

I wonder if we should try to spread this around? So that each person sends to one family, and everything doesn't all go to one?

Your thoughts on this?

Do you know how long it will take for a package to get there?

Do the kids (or parents) know how to read?

Horse with No Name
Nov. 26, 2009, 02:30 PM
FatPalomino - shoot a PM my way with some info too please :)

deltawave
Nov. 26, 2009, 02:34 PM
Send me info too, please. It's too depressing trying to help people "in need" whose wish lists include requests for video games, cell phones or designer shoes. :sigh: But for kids, it's different. Probably my gifts will be far more sensible and on the "simple toy" side, but send some I shall! :yes:

cloudyandcallie
Nov. 26, 2009, 02:43 PM
I'm donating to the Toy's for Tots this year. There are a lot of AMERICAN kids who will wake up with nothing under the tree more so this year than other years. I also donated to local shelter's so people could have dinners on the holidays.

While it is wonderful to donate to the impoverished in other countries, here in the USA people, especially children go hungry each day. If you live in a big city, you can go down to the project and leave clothing or food, or if you feel uncomfortable doing that, you can donate thru a church in the project (call them they'll come pick up your clothing and food and money). Or call DFACS, (family and childrens' services or whatever it is called in your city or county) and ask for a case worker to assign you to a family for Xmas.) I dealt with children for over 20 yrs in Atlanta who had never eaten a meal in a restaurant, had never had money to buy Xmas gifts, and who saved some of their money that was donated in order to buy gifts for their younger siblings and mothers.
Yes it is great to help out the needy in other countries, but please make sure that those in your own neighborhoods or cities don't go hungry or without warm clothing too.

Toys for Tots is great and the toys do go to the kids thru DFACS here in GA. If people volunteer too, you can help distribute the items, the organizations need help with sorting and delivering them.

shakeytails
Nov. 26, 2009, 03:19 PM
Now I'm curious. What country are these adorable kids in? I'm basically broke, but I might be able to scrape up money for postage. I don't have children, but I'm sure I could get some nice but outgrown clothes from friends with kids, and surely I could spring for some rice and beans (and some candy!) if that would help. I'm a sucker for kids who love animals!

FatPalomino
Nov. 26, 2009, 04:48 PM
I'm so excited about this!

I wonder if we should try to spread this around? So that each person sends to one family, and everything doesn't all go to one?

Your thoughts on this?

Do you know how long it will take for a package to get there?

Do the kids (or parents) know how to read?

You don't even know how excited I AM TOO. You guys really are awesome.

Last year, I asked other students and faculty to help out. Not one did. I got nasty emails back "we shouldn't have to care..." and was told it "was too much of a burden". :sigh: Some faculty members and students did tell me that they realized how much they had- and didn't need- and how easy it *would* have been to bring/ship things. One dean told me he gave away things like bikes to locals- but asked me not to tell anyone- as he didn't want to alter his "cold hearted" reputation ;)

The kids read very well, sadly some of the parents don't.

OH, I just remembered one girl. Dejanie (De-john-E) was mute. She was very good friends with Tariq. She was very bright. I remember a local adult saying he wished she had a better way to communicate- such as being able to text her friends- as she was so smart but so isolated. I see things in Walmart like mock cell phones where kids can communicate via "text" within a short range. Does anyone have any ideas?

I think "assigning" kids is very helpful, if you'd like to. For example, in the Thomas family, there are 2 kids and 1 mom. In the Hanley family, there are 2 boys and their dad PJ, but then there are also the 3 toddler cousins, and 2 teenage girl cousins that are there, with 2 aunts. I can probably think of about 10-15 other kids in the local area I didn't interact with every day, but knew, that were great kids trying hard. I've had a hard time connecting Tariq, my main point of contact, to get all those kids proper names and addresses (Tariq speaks very slowly- and very good English- so he's the easiest to understand on the phone). I'll see if I can gather a complete list of the kids I know today.

Shipping through USPS usually took me about 3-4 weeks to get a package. Packages are held at the post office, written packing slips are delivered to the recipient, who then has to pick up the package at the post office (and open it, to show the customs agent that there isn't anything too valuable in there). If sending anything new, please take the tags off, so the families aren't charges duty. Duty is charged most often on electronics.

The only other shipping options were Fedex (the only "quick" way, but very very expensive) and Amerijet. Amerijet ships either by sea or plane, and I think most packages need to be picked up at the airport- or the receiveing end pays a customs broker to get it to clear customs and delivered to their home. People ship big barrels and bigger items through Amerijet. Of course, if anyone's bored and looking for a vacation, it's a great vaca spot and you can deliver items for the cost of the plane ticket :D I can hook folks up with free housing (very safe and secure, which means barbed wire fence, bars on windows, guard dogs, and alarm systems). The island is plagued with crime, and "white people" are targeted, but I never once had a problem. If you treat them with respect, you'll get it back. I had 2 puppies stolen, and after "word on the street" heard they were mine, they were returned that afternoon :D

Someone asked about sending cash. I personally do, and have received it, without problems. In a package, I seal and enclose a card that is thin and doesn't look like it has anything valuable. $1 US= $2.7 local dollars, so US money is literally, like gold. Visa and mastercard to work there (gift cards?). US checks take 6 weeks to clear, and I'm not sure most of the families I know HAVE a checking account. A money order or traveler's check may be the safest, most secure way to send things. To give you an idea of how far the dollar goes, normal rent for locals is probably $100 US- $200 US/month.

Really, I am blown away by everyone's kindness. DH and I long ago (haha, I'm 28, but....) gave up buying things for each other, and instead, helped others during the holiday season. Sometimes it was as little as feeding the barn on Christmas morning for a family we knew that had kids. It's really an awesome feeling. I only wish I was down there, and could afford to personally deliver these kid's gifts, and be able to show everyone photos and videos of them. One day....

shakeytails
Nov. 26, 2009, 05:58 PM
So how much does a US$ buy? A bag of rice or two? I was googling and found that rice is now price controlled, but what is the cost? What about toiletry things like toothbrushes that are lightweight and take up very little space? (I'm asking 'cuz I have a pretty big stash of toothbrushes and toothpaste- anytime I can get them free after rebate, I do). I'm kinda excited, I'll hit up a few of my friends with kids for clothes as soon as I see them. I'm guessing summer type clothes are best?

TurnpikeOpera
Nov. 26, 2009, 06:00 PM
Hi, long time lurker, here.

I'd like to help, too, FatPalomino. I try and be as creative with spending as possible so I can get as much bang as a buck will provide. Since I don't have kids to provide pre-owned toys I would be happy to send food. Rice, beans, instant oatmeal, granola bars, fruit snacks, candy (he, it's Christmas!) etc. Or another thing I thought of that would make my contribution go even further would be to just sent a Christmas card or even a plain envelope with a money order or cash (whatever you think best) if it is safe to do so. Is that a workable idea? That way rather than spend money on postage I could get more into the hands of a parent who could buy meat/protein whatever else is needed for the kids that can't be sent in the mail.

I make year-round monthly donations to a local food bank since they can stretch my dollars way farther than I can through the purchasing discounts they get, and I would encourage anyone who wants to help "at home" to consider something like that as well. Even a very small donation -believe me, mine isn't large- provides quite a few meals with the purchasing power and resources of the food bank behind it.

Even though things are tight for me I still feel fortunate to have as much as I do and I really would like to help, so PM away, FP!

FatPalomino
Nov. 27, 2009, 11:26 AM
So how much does a US$ buy? A bag of rice or two?
Don't quote me, but rice and beans were definatly the cheapest thing down there. Chicken was usually a bit worrisome to buy (past exp. date, warm, funny looking)... For me, used to US food but living as frugally as I can, I'd probably spend US$30/week on food.


What about toiletry things like toothbrushes that are lightweight and take up very little space?
Dental hygeine is not very common there :) Things like toothpaste, shampoo, soap were all very expensive. I always brought mine from the US.


I'm guessing summer type clothes are best?
Yes, but even though the coolest it is during the day, in 'winter', may be 70 degrees, I used to see some kids in sweatshirts at night. But by far, summer clothes/sandals/etc is what they can use.


Or another thing I thought of that would make my contribution go even further would be to just sent a Christmas card or even a plain envelope with a money order or cash (whatever you think best) if it is safe to do so. Is that a workable idea?

If you were to send just a card, I wouldn't send cash. I'd only send cash if it's in a box. I have gotten cash in a card, however, but I wouldn't recommend it. I'll also have to see if these kids can get regular mail. It's an odd system they have down there, as those of you may have noticed who received their address. At school, we had it send to a PO box for regular mail. I know one friend, who left school but lived down there in an apartment, didn't have a mailing address, and her mom sent her items to me with the PO box.


Even though things are tight for me I still feel fortunate to have as much as I do and I really would like to help, so PM away, FP!
Will do. You guys rock.

TurnpikeOpera
Nov. 27, 2009, 02:26 PM
Now that I've seen the addresses -or rather how general they are- I don't think I'll take a chance on sending cash/money order in a card. I'll put a box of things together to send & maybe include card with something inside with that. It will be fun to do that and send it off.