March 26, 2015

The other day, as I was trying to clean the house to prevent dust from irritating our fragile airways, I noticed that David has many very similar, nice-looking, black leather shoes stashed under his side of our bed, collecting a lot of dust. As I was peering under the bed, I noticed that Sonic the cat was sniffing inside the shoes, looking for something he’d lost. It turned out that a petrified lizard had hidden inside one of the shoes to flee his captor. I pulled all the shoes out, extracted the lizard and then carried it outside into the bushes, much to Sonic’s chagrin. I then lined up all the shoes. From above, they all looked the same and in pretty good shape, but David had told me before that he wears out his shoes in a very particular way that only shows on the underside. Because of his degenerative neurological condition, he struggles to walk and now uses a cane almost all of the time. He leans to one side as he walks and this wears out the soles of his shoes on the side he puts more weight on. Over the last year or so, he has worn down a few pairs and has more waiting in boxes in the closet. However, he hadn’t disposed of the old ones. When I pointed out all the under-the-bed shoes, he immediately suggested he give some of them away as part of my giveaway.

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Today, I was stuck in hospital all day being treated, observed and tested. The only thing I had brought with me that I could have given away is a Turkish coin purse, but since most of the staff and many of the patients at the hospital I’m in are Armenian, and this year is the centennial of the Armenian Genocide, such a gift didn’t strike me as very culturally sensitive. So, even though he already had his hands full looking after Theo, taking him to a doctor’s appointment to get him checked out too, David gallantly offered to contributed three pairs of his shoes to the Giveaway by dropping them off in the Planet Aid (http://www.planetaid.org) bin near our home. He even took the picture for the blog! Hopefully, the shoes, which still look pretty sharp and hopefully won’t tilt too much to one side (!), will help a young man out there with very little money for clothes, stand up proud in his first job interview. With this blog, I never know from day to day how the giveaway will play out, and I may never know the impact some of the gifts will have on the recipients, but that’s part of what makes it such a rewarding exercise, especially on a day like today when I didn’t get to put my own shoes on and step outside.

2 thoughts on “March 26, 2015

  1. Interesting blog. Sorry to hear that you’re in the hospital. I hope you get well soon.

    Your give-away program is a great idea, but I wanted to give you a heads-up about the Planet Aid company. The so-called nonprofit has attracted a storm of criticism for disturbing reasons:

    1) For starters, the Chicago-based CharityWatch gave Planet Aid an “F” grade after analyzing its 2012 tax form and audited financial statements, determining that Planet Aid spent only 27% of its expenses on programs.

    Google search:

    CharityWatch Debunks Planet Aid’s Recycling Program

    2) A charitable spending ratio of 27% is certainly too low, but the actual figure may be far lower than even that. In 2009, WTTG News in Washington DC examined Planet Aid’s then most recent tax records and noticed many of the overseas charities Planet Aid claims to support have the same address. A list of South African charities was shown in example. But the South African Embassy told WTTG those groups are not registered charities.

    WTTG’s investigation found that all of the charities listed in Planet Aid’s most recent tax return are controlled by the same parent organization — a group called “International Humana People to People Movement,” which, according to its own web-site, also controls Planet Aid.

    3) Worse, Danish prosecutors link Humana People to People and Planet Aid to an alleged cult called the Tvind Teachers Group. Five leaders of this group are Interpol fugitives wanted in their native Denmark in connection with a multimillion-dollar tax-fraud and embezzlement scheme.

    4) The Teachers Group (TG), the controlling body of the broader Tvind organization, is reportedly a political cult based on communist ideology.

    Self-described humanitarian programs run by Tvind-linked groups have been criticized by former volunteers as being ineffective, culturally insensitive, environmentally unsustainable and even abusive toward volunteers.

    Similarly, Tvind’s “schools” around the world have elicited many complaints from former students, with allegations ranging from low standards of “training,” to dire living conditions, unreasonable work hours, bullying and even a “cult-like” atmosphere. Some ex-students also claim they were required to beg for money on American or European city streets and were exploited as free labor benefiting TG-owned businesses.

    Most disturbingly, several young TG members and Tvind participants have over the years been raped, injured or killed during ill-advised land and sea excursions. In many of these cases, the victims’ families directly blamed senior Tvind officials for knowingly endangering the young people. Tvind, however, has never admitted any wrongdoing.

    Not nice folks. Sadly, your donations to Planet Aid help to perpetuate all of this harm. Google search:

    “Kindness into Cash” – exposé of used clothes company Planet Aid – pt. 1

    [For more info, click ‘Show more’ in the description box under the video.]

    Thanks for the chance to express my opinions. Research before donating.

    Like

    1. Hi, Wade,

      Thank you for reading my blog and replying to this one. I was shocked to read this about Planet Aid. You’re right that I should have checked them out more before donating. I usually only donate to organizations that I know well and can trust, but those bins are very convenient when regular charity shops are closed. I will make sure to stick with the trustworthy ones in future.

      All best wishes,
      Meher

      Like

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