I have always wanted the web sites I operate to adopt a charity. Minguo.info itself is a charitable work. Although Minguo is not registered as such, our work here is nonprofit with an aim to improve our society. However, I don’t want Minguo to live in a world of its own. This site must be connected to the outside world—not for its own good but in order to do good for the greater society.
In this spirit, I have been looking for a charity that Minguo could adopt and support and I wanted to do it soon. It’s an easy cop-out to say: “I’ll donate money to charities when I’m (filthy) rich” or “I’ll do something good for the world when I’m famous, powerful, and influential.” Some of the biggest actors for change in the world are ordinary people who are neither richer nor more famous and powerful than the other people in the communities they live in. What sets those great souls apart is a will to do something good and the audacity to start doing what they can with the (meager) means that are available to them. Thus, I didn’t want to have the easy excuse to wait until Minguo is a big and influential web site in order to do something for charities. As of today, Minguo is still a very small web site lost in some corner of the interwebs. But that’s not an excuse for not doing what we can already do.
Having decided to support a charity, my main problem was: Which charity to support? I thought about it for a long time. I could easily have gone with some of the big names like the Red Cross but everybody knows about them and one way I could help the chosen charity would be with name recognition. I wanted to advertise the great work done by some unknown charity. More importantly, I wanted to support a charity working for the poorest communities on this planet, the kind of communities where people do not have Internet access and would never visit Minguo. The charity should work in an area that does not concern me in the least in my daily life. I didn’t want to do it for myself nor for selfish motives. I wanted to do something for other people so that they can enjoy the same things as all the Minguo visitors, including myself, do and that we usually take for granted.
And I am happy today to report that I have found such a charity.
Last week, I was talking with one of my students: The teaching material had led us to talk about Prince Charles in a funny way (a story about a prince with big ears!). That led to talking about Lady Diana and her own charitable work. We watched some videos about her work against anti-personnel landmines. This soon led us to the International Campaign to Ban Landmines and to the work of the Mines Advisory Group.
I then spent some time to have a thorough look at MAG’s web site, trying to understand the scope of their work, etc. I was truly impressed. The charity works in the poorest countries of the world, training local people to become professional mine clearing experts, financially empowering them and their families in the process. It also allows the much needed expertise to be transferred into the countries that need that expertise the most. The charity does not work for the numbers (e.g. to impress donors with the numbers of mines they have cleared) but for the communities, working with them to work out which land, if it were cleared of mines, would have the greatest positive impact on the community by providing arable land—a place to build a home or a field for children to play in.
Every day, I go about my personal business without ever having to fear my life blowing apart or losing a limb should I take a step on the wrong spot. I’m guessing the same can be said of 100 percent of the Minguo members or visitors (with the exception of potential soldiers who have served in Iraq or Afghanistan). We take our ability to move around safely for granted. We have homes and a safe food supply. People in the communities in which MAG works in cannot say the same. They must cultivate their own food but fear for their lives should they dig the wrong field. Children there do not have computers nor game stations and for them, an unexploded ordinance (UXO) looks like a toy. MAG is providing a safer future to such people.
For all these reasons, minguo.info is very proud to announce that, as of today, it officially supports MAG (the Mines Advisory Group).
Next, we should explore all the possible ways our little web site can support this great cause.