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  • D. Randall Faro

Choose Something

The picture accompanying this post was taken in the far north of Namibia. It is somewhere northeast of Oniipa, a small cluster of huts east of Ondangwa, the seat of government for the Oshana Region, roughly ten miles south of Angola. The area is semi-arid (emphasis on arid) and I couldn’t find the spot on my own for all the proverbial tea in China. I took the snapshot of this family drawing potable water from the rural community’s single spigot pushing up through the sand. The water was delivered from a feeder off the distant main trunk line bringing fresh water south from the Angolan source. Our translator related that to get the buckets to their home, the family members would have to carry them a kilometer or so. Hard work, to be sure . . . but for life-giving, clean water.

The community users had to pay about three dollars a month for access to the tap. But the tap wouldn’t be there if not for hundreds of thousands of dollars from around the world contributed for the delivery system. Dollars contributed by caring citizens of Finland, Germany, England, Canada, or the U.S. went into the project. The aggregate contributions resulted in . . . the attached picture.


It makes a difference. Charitable giving, as in the case noted above, can improve the lives of the recipients in remarkable ways. The differences can be extremely significant, sometimes the difference between life and death. It also makes a difference to where, what organization, one directs charitable dollars. Some have significantly higher administration costs that result in fewer dollars reaching the intended recipients. A few are shady fronts for dishonest money-grubbers. So it pays to check out the credentials, track records, and financial statements of prospective charities before directing funds.

Given the above caution, it makes no difference to which charitable organization one chooses. The point: choose something; contribute something. There are, of course, varying amounts one can donate depending on available personal resources. Some might only be able to afford five dollars a month while others could easily furnish five hundred. The huge majority in the western world can afford some measure of charitable giving. A couple of Starbucks lattes a month might not seem like much . . . unless it means a Namibian family having or not having access to potable water. In 2019 the U.S. charitable donations totaled $450B, much of it being smaller donations by individuals who felt blessed to be a blessing.


It’s been a decade since I stood in the Namibian hinterland and took that picture. I wish I knew what the situation is today for that family. Maybe they have a water line to their own home by now. If enough people care enough to share – to use part of one’s blessings to bless others – the lives of many others will be measurably improved.


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