I have recently been thinking deeply about some of the issues raised in Matt’s recent post over at Times and Seasons regarding how we might better allocate our resources to helping eradicate world poverty. Although I was admittedly a bit flippant in my initial response to that post (I often am when initially presented with fodder for thought), it is an issue that has bothered me ever since I read his thoughts. I have been thinking about how I can better help. What can I do?
In that vein, I recently discovered a blog by a friend I knew at the University of Michigan, entitled Riches for Good. His number one ambition in life is to be a philanthropist, and his blog is an admirable start. For two years now, he has blogged tirelessly about various charities, listing them and evaluating them. He has also tracked some of his own efforts to contribute on a less-than-wealthy income. After reading his blog, I have been moved to conclude that everyone can do more no matter how meager their means. Anyone who was stirred at all into deep thought by Matt’s recent post or by their own consciences for any reason should take the time to visit Ryan’s blog. Here are some highlights of a few of my favorite posts/topics:
- Ryan’s conversion to philanthropy: Here Ryan discusses some life-changing moments serving a mission in Thailand as well as some books that have shaped his philosophy. The main book discussed is Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World, a moving account about a medical student who takes the fight against poverty in Haiti and elsewhere to a personal level despite very limited means.
- Leaving Microsoft to Change the World: This post discusses the book Leaving Microsoft to Change the World: An Entrepreneur’s Odyssey to Educate the World’s Children, in which John Wood describes a life-changing trip to Nepal started him on a quest to educate the children of Nepal. He started an organization called Room to Read, and this organization has now established over 3,000 libraries the countries of Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, India, South Africa, and of course, Nepal. Read this post for touching background on the author John Wood, and the book’s impact on Ryan.
- Room to Read: Here Ryan discusses Room to Read, the organization founded by John Wood. He devotes many more posts to this subject as well.
- Finally, Ryan adds LDS context to all of this with thoughtful and inspiring discussion of scripture and other thoughts dealing with poverty and blessing others.
Did I also mention that Ryan’s blog lists and analyzes literally dozens of charities, microcredit organizations, and other ways to help others, including documenting his own experience with a “volunteer vacation”? If you are really interested in acting on some of the feelings/stirrings you feel inside from time to time to help in more significant ways than you have already, I highly recommend consulting Ryan’s blog often. You may find a way for you and your family to contribute some time, talent, or resources to an efficient organization or directly to those in need of your help.
I am interested in hearing what people think about Ryan’s blog and/or the organizations he highlights.