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What is the International Day of Charity?


The importance of charity is irrefutable. It allows us to reach out and aid vulnerable communities, giving hope and support to millions of people around the world. It also champions the needs of the underprivileged and leads to the development of more inclusive societies. 

For these reasons, the United Nations General Assembly declared 5th September as the International Day of Charity. The day serves to raise awareness about charities and their work, get people to recognise their responsibility within society as well as inspire them to take action and help others. This idea took root from a Hungarian civil society initiation, which was then supported by the Hungarian Parliament and brought to the UN. 

Why 5th September?

This date was chosen to commemorate the death anniversary of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who dedicated her life to charity. In 1950, she established a Roman Catholic religious congregation known as the Missionaries of Charity. The congregation is currently still active, serving in 139 countries and caring for the homeless, poor, ill, orphaned and dying, 

Throughout the years, Mother Teresa was honoured with numerous accolades. This included the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 and the Ramon Magsaysay Peace Prize in 1962. She eventually passed away on 5th September 1997 at the age of 87. 

How can you celebrate the International Day of Charity?

Volunteers packing food for donationNo one has been spared by the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. But for some, the impacts are much more extensive than others. As schools close down, businesses shutter their doors, and millions of people get retrenched or displaced due to the prevalence of the virus, already vulnerable communities are now at even greater risk of poverty, hunger and health concerns beyond the novel coronavirus.  

While the onslaught of news revolving around COVID-19 may have left many of us feeling helpless and uncertain, every little action that we take as a global community can have a profound impact on the lives of people who need help the most. For this year’s International Day of Charity, here are some ways you can get involved.

Reading up and reaching out to charities to understand what sort of help they require can be a good starting point. You may consider volunteering or donating essential items such as food, masks or hand sanitisers. If financial contributions are possible, making a cash donation can go a long way in helping charities achieve their goals. 

Should your charity of choice not have any ongoing fundraisers, organising one is a great way to help them raise funds and promote their cause. Blood donations are also urgently required worldwide due to a drop in the number of blood donors during this period of crisis. Many blood banks remain open with precautionary measures in place. 

Here are some charities and nonprofit organisations to consider giving your support to:

Action Against Hunger is a global humanitarian organisation that is committed to ending world hunger. Their teams have been on the front lines, treating and preventing malnutrition across more than 45 countries.  

Mercy Relief was established in 2003 to respond to human tragedies and disasters in the Asia Pacific. Their longer-term sustainable development programmes aim to uplift and empower communities in five key areas: water and sanitation, shelter, sustainable livelihoods, healthcare and education. 

GiveDirectly is a nonprofit organisation that provides a simple approach to addressing poverty – letting donors send money directly to the world’s poorest. They believe people living in poverty deserve the dignity to choose for themselves how best to improve their lives. 

Save the Children was founded with an aim to give children a healthy start in life, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. 

GlobalGiving is a global crowdfunding community connecting nonprofits, donors and companies in nearly every country. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, they have established a Coronavirus Relief Fund. These donations are used to send doctors, nurses and other front line responders to communities in need, get lifesaving medical supplies to hospitals and clinics, deliver essential items to struggling families and individuals, and more. 

Humanity and Inclusion is an independent and impartial organisation working in situations of poverty and exclusion, conflict and disaster. Their COVID-19 Emergency Project reaches out to protect refugees, older adults and people with disabilities from the virus.

Misión Ko’ox Hanal Fall 2020 is a campaign launched by CINDAQ, Mexico, that provides food and basic supplies to rural Maya communities impacted by the coronavirus pandemic due to a loss of income from ecotourism. As their communities depend on the tourism industry as their main source of income, they have been greatly affected by the coronavirus pandemic which led to a dramatic loss of income.

BALI Needs Your Help! is a campaign created by Paul Tosh Tanner to support the people of Bali during this economic recession brought on by the pandemic. With 80% of Bali’s economy coming from tourism, the country’s shutdown from March 2020 till the end of the year means that the island will go a year without 80% of its economy. Paul makes use of donations to buy basic supplies for sustenance, purchasing food from local farmers and superstores and passing it to the NGOs, SOS Children Village International and Food for the Soul Denpasar, to give food directly to those who need it. To help out, you can contact Paul on his Facebook for more details here.  

Feed the Hungry of Riviera Maya, Mexico is a GoFundMe set up by Todd Essick to help feed the children of families in Riviera Maya that are going hungry as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. In Mexico, where there are no organised food banks or reliable government programmes to help feed those in need, Todd has been working with Father Hubert Rainer and a group of dedicated individuals to feed the hungry in Riviera Maya. The funds collected are used to provide additional food packages in impoverished neighbourhoods and to buy food for the soup kitchen run by Father Patrick at the Church of the Sacred Heart in Playa del Carmen.

Ultimately, charity comes in different forms. Whether volunteering your time, contributing money or donating necessities, charity can make a huge difference for others, spreading the message of kindness and courage in these tough times.

Asian Geographic would like to thank all charities for their tireless work and wish everyone a Happy International Day of Charity!

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