Laura believes that charitable giving should be motivated by the desire to help, not for marketing purposes. That is why she has never advertised her charitable giving before now. However, in light of the fact that it may inspire others to donate to these worthy causes, she is posting them online now. Here are the charities that Laura Giles supports:
Laura believes that if you give a person a fish, you feed him for one day. If you teach a person to fish, they can eat forever. That is the premise behind Kiva. Kiva provides microloans to people around the world to help lift them out of poverty. These loans are used for transportation (to work), education, and to create or grow a small business. Laura has been a participant since 2011 on the Pan Society team. (feel free to join us) As of October 2020, she’s made 142 loans in thirty-two different countries. Her loans focus on sustainability and beekeeping. (Laura is a beekeeper).
Laura visited Cambodia in 2004 and was struck by the horrifying legacy of the Pol Pot Regime. Twenty-five years was not enough to erase the effects of genocide. The land mines still hadn’t been cleared from the countryside and amputees were everywhere. Child prostitution was open and rampant. Poverty and disease made it impossible for many children to reach adulthood.
Sustainable Cambodia has made incredible strides to change all that. When Laura started with them, they were in their infancy. Their projects focused on creating the infrastructure to allow children to go to school – such as providing rice for the family so that the family could afford to do without their child’s labor, providing bicycles so that kids could get to school, and giving families mosquito nets to ward off malaria, and building wells so that people could have clean water. Now that that is done, they focus on elementary through college education. They even have a vocational school. Laura’s first sponsored child graduated college long ago and now has a career in banking. She is just one of the many who will never have to choose between prostitution and starvation.
The Cambodia Arts & Scholarship Fund is another organization that does similar work. It focuses on helping poor and at-risk girls as Cambodian society favors boys over girls. Girls are often overlooked when it comes to education. They are forced to help with domestic and agricultural chores. If they are lucky, they will go from their parents’ homes to their husband’s. If they are unlucky, they will find work in sweat shop factories or in the sex trade. The Cambodia Arts & Scholarship Fund helps to give them alternatives.
Laura supports American troops and their families by offering free counseling through Give an Hour. War is hell. Fortunately Laura, and others like her, have the skills to make sure the trauma doesn’t last forever.
“Okini” is Lakota for “sharing of material things.” In the Native American tradition, if you have more than you need, you share. That’s what the Okini Program is all about.
The Pine Ridge Indian Reservation sits on the poorest county in the United States. Many homes are without running water and sewage. The unemployment rate is 80-90%. The average annual income is $4,000. Diabetes is eight times higher here than the rest of the United States. Suicide is twice the national rate. Teen suicide is four times the national rate. Eighty percent of the population has alcoholism. Life expectancy is the second lowest in the world – second only to Haiti.
Giving through the Okini Program is direct. You have direct contact with a family and can either send a one time donation of food, clothing, blankets, baby supplies, heaters, or other items, or you can sponsor a family and provide regular assistance. Since many families only have a few dollars in food stamps to live on, support from outsiders is crucial to survival.
If any of these charities speak to your heart, please give.