It's a tough job, being charitable.
Yesterday I had to stand unmoving for a whole four minutes, leaving my vanilla latte unsipped for a while, as I video'd the Artemis Tribal Belly Dancers at a benefit for the Elizabeth Bowers Zambia Education Fund.
Actually, I could have stood there for four hours.
I love to watch belly dancing -- for all the right (and wrong, if there are any) reasons. And thanks to the troupe for only trying to entice females into attempting some moves at the end of their performance. I was ready to run for an exit, but didn't have to.
Gerry (who is a fellow Tai Chi student) and Linda Bowers showed a deeply moving video about their trip to Zambia this year to officially open a Memorial Library in the village of Lumwana West.
Their daughter, Elizabeth, died in a bicycle accident in Zambia seven years ago while serving as a Peace Corps volunteer. However, she lives on through all the good works being done by the Elizabeth Bowers Zambia Education Fund.
The people of the village danced, sang, and were otherwise beautifully ecstatic over the opening of what we take for granted here in the United States: a library.
This fund has become my favorite charity. Donations go a long way when they're being used to offer Zambian girls an education that would otherwise be denied them. Women are the key to eradicating, or at least lessening, poverty in Africa.
It's satisfying to know that when I give some money to the Fund, it's being used highly effectively. From the web site:
So little money goes so far:
$160 sponsors a student in grade 8
$105 sponsors a student in grade 9
$280 sponsors a student in grades 10 and 11
$350 sponsors a student in grade 12
$2,000 funds a two-year college degree
$10,000 funds computers and equipment
$11,000 funds communications
$24,000 funds library solar power system
Thus I didn't mind throwing caution to the winds when I bid on an African coffee-themed gift basket at the Zambia Night silent auction. I like coffee almost as much as I like belly dancing. So I was determined to go home with the basket (which also had teas, an African music CD, and other donated items).
When Gerry saw me carrying the basket after the silent auction closed, he said "Did you get a good deal?"
"No," I told him. "It was a terrible deal. I think I just paid $30 a pound for this coffee." Somebody kept upping my bids by $5 up to $70. So I decided to jump up to $100 and see if that stopped my competition for the basket.
I was happy. Because there's no way I could overpay, knowing what my money would be used for. I'm going to get a lot of cups of strong coffee out of my gift basket. But I'm already buzzed by what the Zambia Education Fund is accomplishing.