Mr McSmirkersons told me about a website he'd found today. It's called nothingbutnets.net and it's for a group that purchases mosquito netting, distributes them throughout Africa, and teaches families how to use them effectively. Why mosquito netting? Because every year entire families come down with malaria, a disease that causes chills, fever, convulsions, delirium and even coma. The symptoms can recur many times over a lifetime once a person is infected. I know this from personal experience because I once had a dorm-mate from India with it, and my sweetie also has it, from the time he lived in Africa.
A net costs $10. Yeah. $10. In New York City, that's less than the going rate for a first-run movie ticket. We all buy skeins of yarn that might cost around that much. If you really want to make a difference, you might want to think about throwing a crochet and knitting party, and charge $2-$10 a head, and donate the money to the group.
Why should you care whether a family in Africa has to deal with malaria? Well, besides the fact that caring means you are a good person, There are some pragmatic reasons- like how every time a family doesn't have to deal with infection, that'sa bit less money the US feels it needs to spend overseas to help people in developing nations, which can mean more money in your pocket. It means that for every child who doesn't die or get debilitated, there's a better chance that one of them will grow up and find a cure for malaria, or ensure democracy in his or her country, or become a teacher or doctor or lawyer or farmer, making his or her nation a little less dependent on handouts from the First World. In other words, don't help because you see people in African nations as charity cases. Help because it makes life easier for everyone around the world, including yourself. Since I know greed has a greater effect on opening people's pocketbooks than does altruism, I'll ask you to give a little money for greed's sake. Make yourself feel good, and buy a cheap mosquito net- I'm going to buy two, since I feel real greedy today.