Service Projects for December 2008: Operation Holiday Card and Earth Birth

(Scroll down for today's Q&A.)

It seemed like a daunting task to pick service projects for us to do, until I read what hedra said–we get a holiday season every year. So I'm just picking two for this year, and will pick different ones next year.

If you do not want to participate in either of these projects, please don't feel bad. Just pick something else to support. These are the two projects that struck my fancy this year.

Operation Holiday Card
Operation Holiday Card collects holiday cards to send to American servicepeople at military bases in the Middle East. The cards can be purchased or homemade (please no glitter!) and you should write on the back if the card is for Christmas, Hanukkah, or a general Seasons Greetings card. Since you send the cards to the collection point in the US and the cards are all forwarded together in bunches, people from all over the world can send cards if they'd like to.

Cards must be received by December 3! So this is a project for today or tomorrow, to be in the mail by Wednesday. Send cards to:

Operation Holiday Card
226 Albany Ave
Shreveport, LA 71105

For more information on the project, go to the website.

Earth Birth
From the description on their Facebook group:
"Earth Birth Global Women's Health Collective is a project run by midwives and health care professionals to help mothers in war and trauma affected areas give birth safely and peacefully.

Our pilot program is based in Gulu, Uganda. We are setting up small on site birthing centers in Internally Displaced Person's camps where women can come for comprehensive services, counseling, education and care. We have linked with community organizations and hospitals in these areas to help "child mothers" gain access to jobs, school and childcare so that they can mother with every possible opportunity. Our goals include community sustainability, lowered maternal and infant mortality rates, lowered HIV/AIDS transmission rates from mother to child, access to supplies and local medicine, access to trauma therapy and counseling, the experience of a 'positive' birth to facilitate empowerment and mother/child bonding and the ability to articulate one's story.

The war in Northern Uganda has largely been reproductive. Women have been raped as tools of war and are now giving birth to babies which have historically been abducted as soldiers for the war. Often these women have a hard time bonding with or knowing how to care for their children with limited resources and trauma counseling. The ability to articulate one's story is an integral theme of the Earth Birth project. Women have always told stories as a form of information transmission and ownership of events. To have safe spaces for the sharing of taboo and traumatic events allows for understanding and processing of events in context, ownership of experience and networking among women- all of which are integral to a healthy women's movement and improved practice of motherhood. Our spaces function as a community centers for story circles, workshops in active listening and sharing.

Traditional birth attendants live throughout the IDP camps, most of them victims of war and mothers themselves.The TBA's are currently unemployed and do not have formal training. Our international group of midwives work with the TBAs to develop practices that are community centered, culturally competent and sustainable. These women are the cornerstone of the birthing center sites. The TBA's are offered professional development, training, counseling and jobs."

Earth Birth needs donations of money, and ridiculously small amounts make a huge difference: $10 buys a box of gloves, $50 funds the training of a Traditional Birth Attendant, $300 buys a midwife pack of supplies, and $3500 can supply an entire site.

Reading all this just made me start sobbing. Imagining being raped, and then having no help giving birth, no hope for my future, for the baby, for anything. And then thinking about how elemental and simple and yet deep birth assistance is, and how I can help give these women as good a birth as possible under the circumstances.

Please give, any amount you can: http://www.givemeaning.com/project/zangua

The project is also looking for donations of maternity clothes and baby supplies, but they need to be shipped to Uganda. It's super-expensive for those of us in the US and canada to ship to Uganda, so we should donate to local groups. But if you live near Uganda and have items to donate, send them to:

Earth Birth
C/O St. Monica's Girls Centre
P.O Box 669

Gulu, Uganda

The clothing line LOVEMORE (organic onesies and baby clothes) is also donating 15% of all profits to Earth Birth.

I just donated to Earth Birth, and will be getting cards tomorrow to have my kids sign with me and send to Operation Holiday Card.

15 thoughts on “Service Projects for December 2008: Operation Holiday Card and Earth Birth”

  1. This came just in time! I bought some supplies last week for my daughter to make cards tomorrow (having heard about this on the radio), but didn’t know where to send them to. I also didn’t know there was a deadline, so thanks!

  2. Wonderful selections. Hmm. Need to get some cards. Should have time tonight to write some with the kids, though. This is great, because my sister (who does the stockings to send out) didn’t let us know in time to send letters out with the stockings (that has to be done in October). Same results, though – personal note to someone in the risk zone.Thanks for doing the research and selection.

  3. Great selections. I saw Operation Holiday Card in the what we give comments and already had it on my list for my family. It feels really good and necessary to be thinking of others right now. It’s so easy to get caught up in the stresses that come with our holiday season…and a few thoughts about what other people are going through right now puts it all back in perspective.Thanks.

  4. Heather, yeah they do. Big need for that stuff (although some baby supplies are less useful there, like, say diaper genies). But just check to see how much it’ll cost to ship over there, because it might not make sense to send it.

  5. Moxie, I am so pleased that you chose Earth Birth as one of your charities to focus this amazing community of women (and men 🙂 toward… I worked for many years with IDP and refugee women and girls in Africa and the former Soviet Union, and that experience pushed me to go back to school to get a degree in maternal and child health. Giving birth with a trained birth attendant is one of the biggest predictors of safe maternal and infant outcomes. Earth Birth has a sustainable model that calls on the talents of the women in the IDP/refugee community – something that is so instrumental for the women to have a sense of self-efficacy and worth… Displacement, by its very nature, disrupts communities and traditional sources of assistance and education – Earth Birth is helping to rebuild some of that. It looks like they will be working in Sudan as well – help that is sorely needed.

  6. US postal service international mail, would be 16 dollars for a 2 lb package and 29 dollars for a 4 lb package. After that there are flat rate boxes for 50 dollars. I just did those estimates to give an idea of the cost.

  7. These are really great causes! I have obviously missed a lot last week while I was on vacation, but it’s nice to come back to Ask Moxie and see ways to help this holiday figured out for me. ;-)I will dig out my holiday cards tonight and write some up to send. I will talk with hubby about our donation funds for Earth Birth. Thanks, Moxie!

  8. I just told my daughter’s preschool teacher about Operation Holiday Card and her class will be making cards for the troops tomorrow in class and I’ll send them out Wednesday. Thanks for the great idea!!

  9. I just bought two boxes of cards (50% off at Duane Reade, New Yorkers!) and will ask my book club to help me write some of them tonight.I’m so happy that we’re doing this!

  10. Moxie, I love both of these ideas. I “borrowed” the Card for a Soldier idea. Since we live in a community built around a military base, the soldiers are a big influence in our lives. I bought some cards and last night my DH, DS (who is 3) and I wrote some notes in the cards and will get them in the mail today. Thanks for the reminder to give back during this season of so much getting.We have also helped my DS contribute to Operation Christmas Child this year since it is specifically for children and I am hoping it will help cement in my his head (and heart) that Christmas is *not* just about getting and that we need to be conscious of those who have less than us especially during the holidays.
    Thanks for the reminder to give back! 🙂

  11. This is fantastic! I had never heard of Earth-Birth, but I’m definitely going to support them. Thanks, Moxie!And I hope that no one minds – I just posted this comment on the other thread where Moxie asked us what charities we support, but since that was started a few days ago and this one is newer and has fewer comments so far I thought I could maybe get a bit of attention for my friend’s charity here.
    I am asking everyone I know to check out
    http://www.ahundredforahome.com/
    This is a site dedicated to helping out my friend Shannon whose two children, Waverly and Oliver are afflicted with a horrible, fatal genetic condition called Sanfilippo Syndrome. I truly cannot imagine being in Shannon’s situation. All I can think is that it must feel like living in a nightmare you cannot wake up from — watching your children slowly die!
    I’m begging everyone to read the website — and Shannon’s blog (she and her husband Matt are amazing parents)! http://www.familymctravels.blogspot.com/ And help out if you can — even just spreading the word is helpful!

  12. Hey. The pain of making the necessary sacrifices always hurts more than you think it’s going to. I know. It sucks. That being said, doing something seriously creative is one of the most amazing experiences one can have, in this or any other lifetime. If you can pull it off, it’s worth it. Even if you don’t end up pulling it off, you’ll learn many incredible, magical, valuable things. It’s NOT doing it when you know you full well you HAD the opportunity- that hurts FAR more than any failure.I am from Fiji and , too, and now am writing in English, tell me right I wrote the following sentence: “Please note – take your time when comparison shopping.”
    Waiting for a reply :(, Sidney.

  13. Hello. If one morning I walked on top of the water across the Potomac River, the headline that afternoon would read “President Can’t Swim”.I am from Burkina and also now am reading in English, please tell me right I wrote the following sentence: “Lamisil tablets novartis drug reference encyclopedia physicians pdr following oral administration, terbinafine is well absorbed and the.”
    🙁 Thanks in advance. Alden.

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