Here, There and Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘donation’

One of Largest Typhoons Ever

One of Largest Typhoons Ever

Residents rush to safety past a fallen tree during strong winds brought by Typhoon Haiyan that hit Cebu cityLess than 3 days ago, one of the largest typhoons ever recorded ripped through the Philippines.

Sustained winds measured 195 mph, gusts as high as 235 mph. Initial images show trees uprooted like toothpicks. Buildings demolished. Homes washed away by a torrential storm surge.

A child stands little chance against this kind of storm. There are reports of 1,000 deaths in a single coastal town. Up to 1.7 million children are believed to be living in the areas that were hit.

UNICEF is rushing staff, relief and resources to the region. “…We know how vital it is to reach children quickly,” says UNICEF’s Philippines representative Tomoo Hozumi.

You can help this effort by donating to UNICEF’s EMERGENCY response. Every donation will go directly to relief efforts there.

Just three weeks ago, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake rocked the islands in the very same region. Tens of thousands of children were left homeless and living out in the open in make-shift tents.

Super Typhoon Haiyan couldn’t have come at a worse moment.

For children who have survived, clean water is a matter of life and death. Safe drinking water can be impossible to find after such a massive natural disaster. And without it, a child will drink whatever water she can find, no matter how dirty or diseased. That drink can quickly lead to diarrhea, disease and death.

UNICEF’s first priorities are to make sure every child has access to clean drinking water, essential medicines and emergency nutritional supplements. Even without a full assessment, we know tens of thousands of children are in grave danger.

Every moment matters for these children.

Please donate to UNICEF’s EMERGENCY response in the Philippines. Any donation will make a huge difference. Right now, UNICEF’s resources are stretched thin by three major crises in the country in just two months.

The last few months have been heartbreaking for children in Syria and now the Philippines. You’ve done so much already, but this is urgent and children’s lives are on the line, so I’m asking for your support again.

Thank you for your compassion, your selflessness, your generosity in the face of such a heartbreaking crisis.

With gratitude,

Caryl M. Stern
President & CEO
U.S. Fund for UNICEF

Families Need Food Now!

Families Need Food Now!

In some places, hunger isn’t just something that happens for a few hours, or even a few days. For some, hunger lasts a whole season – and we’re right in the middle of it.

Stores of food from last year’s harvest have run low in Mali, Guatemala, and Lesotho, but next year’s crops aren’t ready to eat or sell. There’s no money left to buy more food. Children are getting more and more hungry. Many parents are desperately trying to make what food they have stretch for just a few more days.

Because if they can’t – if the food won’t last until the crops come in – their children might not survive. These families need food now.

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This is the worst time of year for hungry families. But right now, we have a special opportunity to fight back: from now until August 29, every single dollar you give will be matched, so you can fight back twice as hard against hunger.

Your donation can help CARE provide relief to a hungry child and help eliminate the hungry season for good. Donate today and your gift will be matched – everything you give will be doubled.

To fight hunger right now, CARE is providing immediate nutritional assistance, including bags of corn, sorghum, millet, or rice, and emergency therapeutic foods to treat malnourished children. It costs just $7 to feed a person in crisis for an entire week.

But we don’t believe in temporary solutions to big problems, and I’m sure you feel the same way. That’s why CARE isn’t just fighting the hungry season this year – we’re also working to break the cycle, to prevent a hungry season next year. And every year.

The cycle of hunger is a vicious one: Families sell shares of their upcoming harvest at rock-bottom prices just to get food to eat today, leaving them less to sell at fair prices the following season and reducing the amount they will earn. Worse yet, in moments of desperation, they’ll even eat seeds meant to plant next year’s crop, leaving them with less to grow next year.

To fight hunger in the future, CARE is taking long-term steps. We’re working with communities to improve farming techniques to make fields more productive. We’re also setting up savings and loan groups so families can diversify their sources of income by taking out loans and investing the capital in ventures like sewing or animal husbandry.

We can’t accomplish any of that without the support of people like you.

Your support can feed a child right now, and can help a family stay nourished for all of next year.

Donate now, and help CARE work towards ending the hungry season for hard-working families – this year and forever.

Thank you for all that you do.

Sincerely,

Helene D. Gayle, MD, MPH
President and CEO, CARE

All Women, Not Some

Dear Gabriel,

W1302EAWMN1_2Congress turned its back on women last year when it shamefully failed to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) for the first time since 1994.

The reason? A group of lawmakers in the House of Representatives wanted to deny protections for three communities that face disproportionate levels of violence — Native American and Alaska Native women, immigrant women and LGBT individuals.

But there is hope. Last week, the U.S. Senate passed a strong, inclusive and bipartisan VAWA that will help support all women facing violence and exploitation.

Amnesty is mobilizing an urgent effort to get an identical bill passed in the House. Please donate now and support our work to defend human rights.

The stakes couldn’t be higher.

1 in 3 Native American and Alaska Native women will be raped in her lifetime. When the perpetrator is a non-Native man – as in 86% of cases – a complex maze of jurisdictional issues can delay the judicial process or potentially even allow the perpetrator to escape justice.

Immigrant women often face higher rates of sexual harassment and domestic abuse – but when it comes to seeking justice, they have few legal rights and little protection from abusers who could exploit their immigration status.

LGBT violence survivors often face discrimination when attempting to access potentially life-saving social services – discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.
An inclusive VAWA would put an end to these injustices . Stand with us and help pressure Congress to put partisan politics aside and protect the rights of all women. Donate now.

Your donation will help mobilize grassroots activists to pressure Congress through phone calls and office visits, educate the public about the current gaps in services that survivors face, and pressure key Representatives to muster the political will to support an inclusive bill.

If you believe in justice for all people – not justice for somedonate now.

Thank you for all that you do to protect human rights.

Cristina Finch
Managing Director, Women’s Human Rights Program
Amnesty International USA

Good Small Things

Dear Gabriel,

They say the best things come in small packages. At FINCA, we think so, too. That’s why we believe in the power of our small loans. Time and time again, we’ve seen poor women transform a loan into a life-changing opportunity. It doesn’t take a lot to make a difference in someone’s life – just a small act of faith.

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Did you know that, within a year, one single donation to FINCA can fund as many as three loans to hardworking women? Did you know that $50 is enough capital for a hardworking mother to buy more materials for her small business so she can send provide for her children? Small loans like these have unlimited potential to support FINCA clients all over the world. Small loans for big change – that’s our mission, and it wouldn’t be possible without your support.

Bit by bit, we can help break the cycle of poverty that grips many of the world’s working poor. FINCA’s clients are doing their part by using their loans to build self-sustaining businesses that transform their families and their communities. Their repayment rates are remarkable – as soon as one FINCA woman repays her loan, another deserving entrepreneur is given a chance. Every small loan counts. The more loans we can give, the faster the progress, the bigger the success story. No matter how small or large your donation is, it will leave a mark much bigger than you can ever anticipate.

Help us write the world’s success story today, and support small FINCA loans for big change. Support hard work, the human spirit, and resilience. Donate today, and join the global fight against poverty.

Thank you for your generosity,

Soledad Gompf
Vice President,
New Business Development

Breaking Out All Over

Avaaz Supporters,

Something big is happening. From Tahrir Square to Wall St., from staggeringly brave citizen journalists in Syria to millions of us winning campaign after campaign online, democracy is stirring. Not the media-circus, corrupt, vote-every-4-years democracy of the past. Something much, much deeper. Deep within ourselves, we are realising our own power to build the world we all dream of.

Avaaz.org - STEP FORWARD, TAKE OUR WORK TO THE NEXT LEVEL

We don’t have a lot of time to do it. Our planet is threatened by multiple crises – a climate crisis, food crisis, financial crisis… These crises could split us apart or bring us together like never before. It’s the challenge of our time, and the outcome will determine whether our children face a darker world or one thriving in greater human harmony.

This is our challenge to meet. With 17 million hopeful citizens and rising, Avaaz is the largest global online community in history. There is no other massive, high-tech, people-powered, multi-issue, genuinely global advocacy organization that can mobilize coordinated democratic pressure in hundreds of countries within 24 hours. Our potential is unique, and so is our responsibility.

Responsibility is why we never accept money from governments, corporations or even large donors. 100% of our support comes from small online donations – the highest integrity funding in the world. Donating is an act of hope and trust, and I and my team feel incredibly serious about being worthy of yours.

It’s amazing, but just 20,000 of us make our entire community possible with a small weekly donation of around $2.00, the price of a cup or two of coffee. That funds all of Avaaz’s core expenses, but to rise to this moment and win it, we need to accelerate — by doubling our number of weekly ‘sustainers’ to 40,000, and doubling our capacity to do everything we do. Click below to make it happen and buy the world a cup of coffee:

https://secure.avaaz.org/en/sustain_avaaz_dec_2012_2/?bMPbqab&v=20333&a=2.00&c=USD&p=28

Making a small but steady weekly contribution enables Avaaz to plan responsibly around long-term costs like our tiny but awesome staff team, our website and technology, and the security of our staff and systems (this can get pricey when our campaigns are taking on shady characters!). It also means we have the ability to respond immediately to crises as they occur and jump on opportunities for action without delay.

A very small donation of around $2.00 per week from 20,000 more sustainers would enable our community to expand all our work next year, helping to save lives in humanitarian emergencies, protect the environment and wildlife, support democracy and fight corruption, push for peace and reduce poverty.

Donating to Avaaz has a double-impact — because our donations not only make change now by empowering particular campaigns, every contribution builds our community that will be making change for decades to come. It’s an investment with both immediate and long-term results for our children’s and our planet’s future. Click here to contribute:

https://secure.avaaz.org/en/sustain_avaaz_dec_2012_2/?bMPbqab&v=20333&a=2.00&c=USD&p=28

Fundraising is often a problem for social change organizations. Government or corporate funding would profoundly threaten our mission. Funding from large donors also often comes with strings attached. And high-pressure tactics like telemarketing, postal mail, or direct on-the-street programmes often cost nearly as much as they raise! That’s why the Avaaz model – online, people-powered donations – is the best way in the world to power an engine of social change, and a huge part of our community’s promise.

If we can multiply the number of sustainers we have, it will take our community, and our impact, to a whole new level. I can’t wait.

I know that donating is an act of hope, and of trust. I feel a huge and serious sense of responsibility to be a steward of that hope, and my team and I are deeply committed to respecting the trust you place in us with your hope, time, and resources. It’s a special thing we’re building here, and if we can keep believing in each other, anything is possible.

With hope and gratitude for this amazing community,

Ricken Patel
Avaaz.org

One Million Clients

Dear Gabriel,

Two significant moments arrived recently. The kick-off in our general election season you no doubt noticed. The other was much more significant for FINCA. Thanks to the generosity of supporters like you, we took a leap towards finding and funding our one millionth client.

This advance against the general election backdrop, made me think of Ronald Reagan and his famous line about relations with the Soviet Union that you may recall or at least have heard about: “Trust – but verify.”

‘Trust – with verification’ is such a perfect summary of FINCA’s method for working with our clients and our donors that it could almost be our tag line!

Trust with verification is the model that has brought FINCA tantalizingly close to sponsoring our one millionth client. It’s the model that has earned us the respect and faith of donors like you, and over 100,000 other Americans.

Since 1985, we have entered into commitments with our clients based on trusting them to establish and manage micro-businesses – in tailoring, food production, craft-work and hundreds of other local in-demand products, by using funds invested by FINCA, with one condition: FINCA verifies that clients fulfill their commitment to us and are repaying their loans on time.

Simultaneously, we have been asking you, our supporters, to trust in our professionalism, expertise and commitment to the poor, particularly financing women entrepreneurs, those who live in impoverished communities, where women are expected to accept a passive or even submissive role. But this has not been blind faith – we have encouraged you to verify the results. And now look: Almost 1,000,000 clients!

FINCA’s results – your results – continue to be magnificent!

Closing in on client one million is, in many respects, the ultimate evidence of our work’s and your support’s impact, durability and success.

Today we are seeking just one thousand people to make a donation of, on average, $100.

Become one of the 1000.

Your donation today should not be made in blind faith. Verify the impact of your support: Meet our clients, hear their testimonies.

Help us find and fund client number one million.

Thank you for your support,

Soledad Gompf
Vice President, FINCA
New Business Development

Hunger Is Not A Game

Dear Gabriel,

Hunger is on the horizon for more than 13 million people in the Sahel region of Africa – with fields bone dry and crops ravaged by plagues of insects. Food prices are rising quickly in local markets.

In parts of Chad, villagers have resorted to raiding anthills for the tiny caches of food stored there.

This crisis isn’t just the result of dry weather or failed harvests. In some cases, up to half of US government aid that could help these struggling communities is wasted. It supports giant agribusiness firms and shipping companies. It’s shipped expensively from the US, instead of being purchased locally. It’s dumped on markets – competing directly with the small farmers it should be helping.

Farmers in the Sahel region can assist more effectively during food crises – but they urgently need your help to do it.

Make a gift to the Oxfam America Advocacy Fund, and you can help people in the Sahel and beyond by pushing for reforms that allow for food aid to be purchased locally. You’ll help fix the underlying causes of this crisis – and if you give today, your donation will be matched to make TWICE the difference.

Make your gift today toward our $50,000 goal and it will be doubled to help change the laws and policies that keep people poor.

Oxfam is working in places like Niger, where our partners are rebuilding cereal banks so any surplus food can be stored for the months ahead. We’re in Mauritania, where we’re working with 1,300 women to launch a cooperative vegetable garden program, with water pumped from a nearby river. And we’re in Chad, helping farmers dig irrigation systems that will capture any rain that falls.

But we need your help to tackle the destructive policies that can turn a dry season like this into a catastrophe. Every day, we see the heart-wrenching impact of these misguided policies that lead to manipulated food prices that maximize corporate profits, or fall short on providing basic investments that could help communities prepare for disasters. Too many policies are made without consideration for how they could affect poor people.

The Oxfam America Advocacy Fund is working to turn this around, making sure aid gets to where it’s needed and is used to build long-term self-reliance. In order to continue this work, we need your support today.

Help raise $50,000 to reform aid policies – give today and your gift will be MATCHED.

We have the experience and the expertise to make systemic change – but we need your immediate support to make it possible. Thanks in advance for working toward a better future for families in West Africa and beyond.

Sincerely,

Raymond C. Offenheiser
Board of Directors
Oxfam America Advocacy Fund

Rwandan Oprhan’s Land

From ROP Stories
Rwandan Orphans Project Center for Street Children.

We own our own land!
Posted on October 25, 2011 by Sean

The Rwandan Orphans Project has never had much to call our own. In the early days the Center was nothing more than a half-built, abandoned warehouse in Kigali’s dingy industrial district where hundreds of street kids came in search of food and a place to sleep. Fast forward to the present and the ROP Center occupies what was once a boarding school that sits on a large piece of land in a peaceful area called Nyarugunga. As wonderful as our current home is, it doesn’t belong to us. We only use it thanks to the generosity of a wealthy Rwandan couple who own the property and allow us to use it rent free.

The dream of all of us at the ROP has always been to have our own purpose built center on our own land. For years that was nothing more than a pipe dream, as our greatest priority was, and remains (we are facing tough times now more than ever) raising enough money to continue providing the care, education and other needs of our nearly 100 boys. To be frank, we put the dream of even owning our own land in the back of our minds; hopeful but not very optimistic about it happening anytime soon.

That all changed after a visit from a group of Australians back in July. Jenny and I were on holiday in Bujumbura, Burundi, but Jenny cut her vacation short, taking a six hour bus ride alone back to Kigali in order to meet this group. Jenny had been in touch with one of the group before their visit, who was keen to see the center, and particularly our quilting project. The day they came Jen gave them a tour and explained our project and what our goals were. They had kindly bought some quilt batting with them from Australia to help our project, along with some gifts for the boys. They all seemed very enthusiastic about our work and they spent a couple of hours with our boys. One of them even bought one of our quilts.

Not too long after their visit one of the members of the group, Tony, contacted Jenny and informed her that he and his wife Carol wanted to help the ROP to buy our own land. We were pleasantly shocked at the offer and told him we already had a plot in mind. In fact just a few weeks earlier we had been told about some land that was for sale in our own neighborhood. This land was being sold by a local family at a very low price considering its size and location. Tony asked us about the price and within days he had made a donation to cover the full cost of it. All of us at the ROP were thrilled. For the first time in our existence we would OWN something. As an organization we have been making great strides for some time now, but having our own land would be a giant step forward for the ROP.

Read complete story at ROP Stories.

Nicholas Lives On – Part 2

Excerpt from Don’t Just Sit There, Do Something! Grief’s Wake Up Call

In the fall of ninety-four, Reggie and Maggie Green were on holiday in Italy, driving peacefully through Messina with their children Nicholas and Eleanor (seven and four years old) sleeping soundly in the back seat. Out of the dark night a vehicle creeps alongside. They hear angry shouts and demands to pull over. Terrifying gunshots slam into the body of their car. Reg outruns, what turns out to be, Calabrian highway bandits. Upon arriving safely at their hotel they check the children, who they believe have slept through the traumatic incident. As they try to arose Nicholas they discover a horrible gunshot wound to his head. Two days later Nicholas is pronounced dead.

Without hesitation the Greens decide to donate his organs. This act, which to them is the only choice imaginable, soon catapults them into national and international attention. Nicholas organs go to seven people. Organ donations increase dramatically. Surprisingly, revenge is not in the Greens’ vocabulary, only the reporters ask about retribution. Reg Green says, “There is no sum of money that could give me back my son. Whereas justice heals, vengeance just creates new problems.” The Italian Ambassador Boris Biancheri tells them, “Your names and the name of Nicholas have become for Italians somehow synonymous with courage, of forgiveness and compassion.” Upon their arrival back in the U.S. they continued to advocate for organ donations and speak frequently in public about the importance of turning personal tragedy into life for others.

Nicholas Lives On – Part 2

REGGIE: And we both spend a lot of time with books. It’s through books that I learn about life. They tell you how life was and how it should be; what was foolish and what was effective. Those things get inside you I think and cause the reactions, which become instinctive.

When people say they thought that Nicholas was the brightest star in the sky or they saw him in a grove of trees or as an angel . . . I like to hear that . . . it shows their compassion . . . that they went outside themselves to find the most comforting thing they could think of and wanted to pass it on to us.

Such comments don’t convince me in any way, shape or form about any spiritual realities however. I have to look for concrete things which continue to do good. For example: organ donations are up in Italy by more than fifty percent. That’s hundreds of people walking around today who would have died by now. There’s a real sense of something good coming out of it . . . real hard physical good.

Life is a complete mystery to me; I’ve got to say. Death is a complete blank. I really don’t know about it or even have a hypothesis. What I’m trying to do in my life then, if you don’t understand death or the purpose of life, is deal with it on the level that I can and I know there are certain things to me that seem to be better than others: kindness is better than cruelty; full stomachs are better than starvation; making a joke is better than hurting someone. Those sorts of things have always struck me as I’ve grown up.

I’ve tried to concentrate on the things I can understand and handle. And this was one of them where one could palpably see good come out of it. We’ve since met all the people who received Nicholas’s organs. The difference in them is quite astonishing. The thought has come to me since, “We saved those people from going through the devastation we’ve gone through.” And you know, if you can’t do that then, come on . . . it seemed so obvious at the time.

We go to a lot of organ donating meetings and I have never met anyone who’s ever said they regretted it. Most people say it’s helped them a lot. In fact, most meetings we go to someone will come up and say, “I wish I’d done that.” Because they sense that somehow we got something back from it.

The worse thing about Nicholas’s death, besides the loss, which is terrible, is that he never reached his potential. To me that’s the most awful thought. It does subside after awhile, though it’s always there. The fact that he never got that chance is the thing that I find most difficult. It’s not just one’s own dreams having been unfulfilled; it’s the fact that his dreams weren’t fulfilled. To me that is the worst thing about it. He never got to live to his potential. But . . . we have all the memories and he was a wonderful little boy and because of that I think we can deal with it.

As you know I’m a father late in life and I always wondered what would happen . . . that I might not get to see him as an adult or know how he’d turn out in the end.

People that have helped have tried to give what they could. Whatever they’ve done seems to be the best possible. If they’re budding poets, and every Italian turned out to be a poet, they write a poem. Someone wrote music, part of a piano sonata to Nicholas. Somebody else did a full-scale choral work. People reached down inside and found the essence of what they wanted to do. That is very comforting; that it made people feel that way. One man sent us a book about Eskimos written in Italian, of which we don’t speak a word, but that was what was important to him.

And we’ve been very active in all this. Whenever the flame dies down I pour some more gasoline on it. What I didn’t want to happen was have everybody very sympathetic about it for a couple days and then comes along the next tragedy. I was determined to use whatever resources I could. I was a journalist and dabbled in PR for a time so I had some skills. My idea was to make it stick; to etch it on people’s minds; to not have it forgotten. We’ve written articles by the dozens, traveled all around the country, spoken to all kinds of audiences. The universality of the response was not just from mothers and fathers, but from admirals, writers, police.

I think there are a lot of elements to this response, a sort of mixture that’s made the alchemy . . . an innocent child for one thing. I think we were able to get across a sense of what he was like. We had a photograph of him in my camera and that picture was sent around the world , so right from the beginning people knew what he looked like. And we’d tell stories . . . Maggie would tell stories. People built a picture about him fairly early on. The fact that we were foreigners in their country and they didn’t “protect us”, as it were, also struck a chord.

All those factors came together. And though neither of us are Catholic, the Catholic Church has been hugely supportive. The Pope blessed the central bell that’s in the memorial bell tower. Catholicism itself, at some level, probably has a theory about all this. The official position certainly is very supportive.

MAGGIE: One reason has to be that Reg was a journalist and therefore had no fear of the press. Some people are afraid to talk and don’t know what’s going to happen. We were willing to talk to people right from the beginning. The day after we got back to the states we were on all three morning shows (television). It’s hard to be willing to do that about organ donation because it’s always the result of a loss and some families aren’t up for it. A good part of it is being willing to be in newspapers and on TV. All the stories we’ve encountered talking to other donor families . . . they always have some cruel twist or the child had a lot of promise . . . any of them could have been that sentinel.

Reg was on the phone from the hotel room to the London Times as soon as we found out Nicholas had died. They did a terrible story and got three-quarters of the facts wrong, but he still thought of talking to them like that.

REGGIE: That’s right. Many people will say, “Not now, we need to think about it.” Or, “We’ll get back to you.” The press isn’t like that. They want immediate information and if you haven’t got it the story will get written anyway, so you might as well get it accurate.

I made a conscious decision when we came back that, “We can do some good here.” I really made a point of going out and trying to get as many people interested as possible. I saturated the market. As a result there are very few talk shows or magazines that the story hasn’t been in. Of course, there’s always the feeling when you go on television or in a newspaper, wondering if your doing it for self advertising. I try to examine myself closely and although the attention is flattering, I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t think it was doing some good. I can’t get rid of the fact that I’m pleased if Barbara Walters wants to talk to me but I’ve tried to do a rational assessment of whether it will help or not.

And we’ve been on all kinds of shows. You know that one called The Other Side? A guy on the day before us was a private detective whose job was to track down vampires. You wonder if this is the right kind of an audience, but on the other hand, perhaps it’s the very people who wouldn’t otherwise consider it. The National Inquirer called and one always has to worry . . . because they do distort the facts . . . tabloids have a tendency to do that. We talked for an hour and a half and a very sober article came out of it. So, a lot of people read this that might never even think of organ donations.

MAGGIE: In a way it helped too. Those first numb days . . . when we visited the Prime Minister and President of Italy and went on the Italian equivalent of the Jay Leno Show . . . that helped prepare us for the future when we were talking to The Rotarians. There was a sense of, “We did that” and nobody’s looking for the bad in us, so we can deal with it.

REGGIE: It doesn’t bother me if people are looking for the bad and as far as I can tell there isn’t any of that here . . . on this particular topic. As far as this is concerned our motives are clear. Whatever people make of that, that’s fine. And if at the end of the day people decide they wouldn’t want to donate their organs, I for one wouldn’t want to change their minds. People have really strong beliefs. For some people it’s wrong. They should not be forced into it.

I was in Italy last week talking with a journalist and he said, “You know, not everybody sees it like you. My grandmother, for instance, is terrified of donating organs because she thinks she wouldn’t go to heaven.” And a chaplain I met said, “A lot of these splinter groups in Italy, these fundamentalist groups, are against such things.”

I don’t like coercion. I’d like it to come from the heart. The use of coercion just raises the whole tone of society. Being agnostic I can’t rule out the fact that these people may be right. I know it seems ridiculous now but it was a very strong belief at one point. A week before his death we were in a church in Switzerland, with Nicholas, and there was a painting of a man who wouldn’t get into heaven because he was deformed. Of course that doesn’t occur to me, but if somebody believes that, it would be terrible to try to force that person into something. I much prefer the other method, which I see is working, of information and raising awareness.

All polls in this country show that something like ninety percent believe in organ donation, almost nobody is opposed to it. When it actually happens of course the actual decision is much more difficult. The key to it therefore is giving information and that approach is much more likely to get results than coercion or pressure.

The bell tower is a part of all this too. It was made as a memorial for Nicholas. It isn’t anything I would have thought up myself. When I first heard about it, it took my breath away. A sculptor in Italy wanted to produce this tower; at first with the idea that there would be only one bell. He was designing a bell for the United Nations Fiftieth Anniversary, which was a private venture and made from melted firearms collected by the police. He said he wanted to design it and wouldn’t charge anything. In addition to that he put in innumerable hours trying to get the right kind of steel structure, the right stones for the wall. He drove all around California looking for what he needed and just wouldn’t take a penny. Once we mentioned this in Italy and got one of the big magazines to support it, bells started to appear. People would rush into their house and come out with a hundred-year-old bell they’d give us. Sometimes they’d be from people who’d lost a child or some other loved one, but often just people who were touched by the whole idea. There are church bells along with cow bells on it now, and we keep getting them. There are over a hundred and thirty bells and we have no more room. Now we’re having to think about what to do next. There’s a real sense that people have taken to a lovely idea . . . which is the preciousness of life.

The Papal Foundry, which has been making bells for a thousand years, offered a bell. It’s a very big bell. The Pope blessed it before it left Italy, even though neither of us are Catholic.

It’s there for the children and a way to remind people of the power of organ donation . . . that it can save lives. And, on a more spiritual note, it reminds people of the impermanence of life . . . of using life for whatever good you can. You know, I think that’s a thing about both Maggie and I have come to separately . . . even though we don’t believe in any particular cause to go out and say, “You’ve got to do this or that.” We prefer to say, “This is what we believe; what we’ve done.” Maggie leads by example. She doesn’t talk about it much; she’s very diffident about her capabilities. Her example is the thing that struck me when I first met her. I’ve never known such honesty, gentleness and purpose . . . they sort of transmute themselves.

If you go back to what has influenced me most, it’s the example of people doing their thing; not telling you about it, but doing it. I always knew about death. It wasn’t a strange concept. And if you’ve got a set of beliefs, you should stick to them. Don’t throw out a whole lifetime of thinking or believing just because something happens.

I always knew there was violence in the world. I always knew there were catastrophes . . . but because it then happened to me doesn’t mean that suddenly the whole world is wrong or different than yesterday. Now, it may be a good world or a bad world, but it’s there all the time. If you believed in God before you shouldn’t stop because he’s not being “good” to you in this particular case. Or, if you don’t believe in God, you can’t all of a sudden start inventing one. I never believed in deathbed repentances, especially someone else’s deathbed. Certainly you’ve got to let events modify what you believe and indeed they may revolutionize it, but it’s not something that ought to be done lightly or wholesale in an emotional state. I don’t know exactly what it is that gives Maggie her strength, but she has continued, as far as I can see, as far as her religious beliefs are concerned, to not be very different than how she was before. I think this is bigger than religion . . . it’s about all life.

I’ve always known there was violence and poverty. There is a random quality to these things . . . if I’d gone left instead of right this might never have happened. I get strength from the belief that people are fundamentally decent. I’ve seen a lot of cruelty as a journalist. I’ve seen miserably self-centered behavior, but I think people in their core are decent and they want to do the right thing. I also think people are very lethargic. They want to do something but never get around to it. In general though, there’s a wellspring in most people of wanting to stand up tall. I’ve experienced hundreds and hundreds of people who have that human sympathy. They’ll write to us in order to be comforting in some way. The letters have been such an outpouring of compassion and sympathy. A lot of them say, “I’ve never said this before” or “I don’t know how to say this . . .” and then say something with simple eloquence and depth.

I’ve learned a lot going through this about people I already knew. It turns out that a very good friend of mine had lost his brother and family but never spoke about it. And I never knew that before; even though I’d known him for over thirty years! I realized that there is a lot more behind peoples’ faces then we give them credit for. They’re often harboring the memory of some terrible thing that happened. They hide an enormous amount of death. It makes you more sympathetic to life.

Tolstoy said, “To know all is to forgive all.” I always thought that was a real nice idea. To be fair to myself I’d say I knew it before, but Nicholas’s death intensified it. The more you know about yourself . . . I’d say if there’s one key to everything it’s to “know yourself”. Just to understand yourself. If you know your own workings then you understand others much better.

In a sense though Gabriel, what I find is that to give people a “how too” in this kind of thing . . . I don’t see that there’s a kind of recipe you can use. It takes a long, long time to create who you are and how you react to whatever. If I was going to try to preach to anybody it would be on those kinds of lines.

MAGGIE: This is one of those situations where getting information out there helps. I suspect that one reason the donation rate is so low in Italy is because you’re expected to be prostate in grief . . . screaming and shouting. We were forgiven for not acting like that because we were foreigners. They would be made to feel guilty for appearing to be rational enough to make such a choice at a time like that. They now see there are many ways to grieve and choices that can save lives.

THE END

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