Micro-loans and the Nobel Peace Prize
I just read this article about the Nobel Peace Prize winner. I find that inspiring. My wife's minor was in third world development, so it's something that I like to pay attention to. Just to think that a $200 loan (on the honor system!) is enough to benefit people so drastically...it's pretty incredible. It seems like so much of the opportunities we have to help people in other countries turn out to be good for a few individuals but not for the society at large or otherwise have drawbacks to how they're implemented. And maybe this does too, but it seems to be a good program.
In related stuff, I just learned that the Democratic candidate for governor of Colorado spent time in Africa doing development work (as in 'third world development', not as in 'realty developers'--it involved HIV prevention and treatment). I think that speaks very well for him. I'd already been put off by the racist-tinged ads of his opponent, so I probably would have voted for him anyway, but it's a nice thing to learn.
And if you're on the ball and already trying to plan Christmas presents (which I've seen a couple people mention that they are), find one of the organizations that allow you to buy a water buffalo or a goat or drought resistant seeds to be used where they're most needed. Then give the certificate as a gift instead. We did that last year instead of buying stuff that people don't really need anyway. It's definitely a worthwhile program.