Who am I to contradict that giant of Jewish legal experts and philosophers, Rabbi Moses Ben Maimon, or Maimonides of the 12th Century? Well, I think his eight levels of righteousness through giving has to be turned on its head for the 21st Century. Maimonides said that the penultimate act of giving is anonymously to a recipient who does not know the donor – and donor can mean money, food, services, an act of kindness, teaching a skill, etc. Well, this is what most of us do, at least some of the time. You pick a charity that fits your values, type in your credit card number, and hope that the Red Cross builds a shelter for someone deserving in Haiti, UNICEF provides 17.6 children suffering from famine in Chad with 22.8 meals, or Oxfam drills a water well in the Turkana.
Yesterday, returning to the airport in Entebbe, Resty of IsraAID (as well as the volunteer Chairman of the Board and one of the founders of Little Light), asked the driver to drop me off at the Little Light Children’s Center in the Numowongo slum in Kampala for a few hours. Numowongo is one of the two sister slums of Katwe (yes, as in the already critically acclaimed, just released Disney film “The Queen of Katwe”). Resty had arranged for Godfrey, the director, to escort me to the home of Elizabeth, a 7 year old slum dweller girl, whom our family supported last year in school. The cost of support is pathetically small, and I was certainly plenty pleased with myself to chalk one up for charity without having to walk across the slum or Elizabeth having to meet me. In fact, I was much more looking forward to having a cappuccino on one of the beaches near Entebbe, or doing a little gift shopping in the Oweino Market in Kampala, but I was too embarrassed to tell Resty that.
Suffice it to say that walking along the abandoned railroad track, across the mountain of refuse to Elizabeth’s home was infinitely more powerful than pressing return on the keyboard. People often ask me to recommend NGOs for donations. Generally, I say small is better than big, but beyond that I am always hesitant as I see it as completely a personal choice reflecting personal values and resources. Nevertheless, riding the wave of Phiona Mutesi and “the Queen of Katwe” (who unfortunately truly is one in a million), having met most of the staff (most or all of whom live in the Numowongo slum) and students and board members of Little Light, having been there twice, and having met a few of the beneficiaries at their homes….you certainly can be confident that any donation to Little Light Uganda http://www.littlelight.ngo/ is massively needed and will be well used.