The Art of Giving in this Holiday Season

Roundel of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta
For everyone on the face of this earth, the end of the year is a blessed time for giving  - whether you are a Christian, a Muslim, a Budhist, a Jew, a Hinduist, an atheist or whatever else you call yourself.

This is a time for thinking of others, especially the poor, the emarginated, the sick and the dying.

We are all rushing to buy presents for family and friends - why not set aside a little something for someone whose only claim on you is that she or he belongs to the human race but was not born lucky the way you were...

It is heartwarming to see how the media and the blogosphere have woken up to the need to give.

In one instance, Christians and atheists, quickly joined by Muslims, have engaged online in what they call the "overall battle for goodness" and in a few days had raised some $50,000 for a hospital (see the article below).  Then Nicholas Kristof, a columnist on the New York Times, lists eleven worthy American charities and I urge you to look it up (click here for his article The Gifts of Hope). Popular bloggers such as Nathan Bransford and First Person Irregular have jumped in offering Heifer International one dollar for every comment they receive on their blog, thus increasing traffic on their site for a good cause.

I have never done this before but I'd like to do the same: for every comment I'll receive for this post on my blog, I'll offer one Euro to the Order of Malta. Please join me in offering support to this worthwhile humanitarian organization, one of the oldest in the world: imagine, it has been in operation for over 900 years!

Today it can count on the services of some 12,000 members (knights and dames), another 11,000 paid personnel (mainly doctors and nurses) and about 80,000 volunteers spread in dozens of countries. The Order's humanitarian work cuts across all religions and puts the sick and the needy before every political, ideological and religious consideration.

Its main job is medical assistance and it runs dozens of hospitals and dispensaries across the world, many in Africa, and has always operated leprosies (in India). It has some special programmes like assisting children bon from mothers affected by AIDS, a particularly complex and demanding type of assistance as both mother and child require to be looked after for several years (before birth and two years afterwards). It also looks after the elderly and the poor in developed countries (remember, in Europe alone, there are some 50 million people living below the poverty line).  But, in spite of the dedication of its members, the Order is always in need of additional funds: the demands of the sick and the poor are, alas, never ending...

One of the most emblematic of its charities is the maternity hospital in Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus, where all the children are born without regard to whether they are of Christian, Muslim or Jewish parents. Since 1990, when the Order of Malta reopened the hospital (it had been shut due to violence), some 50,000 births have taken place there (the 50,000th one, a baby girl named Aicha, on October 18), without ever having a mother dying in childbirth - something of a miracle! But they need support to pay for equipment and help, so all contributions are welcome! Here is the address to make payments: 
    Bank account : Holy Family Hospital
    Account No. 3890000/0
    Bank of Palestine PLC  PO Box 765 Bethlehem West Bank via Israel
    Swift Code: PALSPS 22
    Bank No. 89/BANKBRANCH No. 450

The Order of Malta, with its relief agency Malteser International, is also engaged in emergency assistance around the world and is present in every crisis with its doctors and nurses - most recently in Haiti where it was one of the first on the scene. Click here for its activity report for 2010.

Why does the Order work so well? Simple: it is almost always there with its own medical facilities BEFORE
the disaster hits. Indeed, this continous world-wide presence is a plus in making the Order's relief efforts particularly effective. And the Order will stay on after the worst of the crisis is over, as needed, to cater to additional needs as communities recover - for example providing them with agricultural tools to work the fields or digging the wells needed for clean water. For contributions, please click the following Malteser International link and you will find a form making it easy to pay in.

Please contribute yourself or, if its easier for you, make comments on this blog and I'll be as good as my word!

I'll take a few days off to celebrate the Holidays with my family and let me wish the same for you, my dear readers, for those of you who are not Christians: a Happy Holiday and for the others: Merry Christmas!

Enhanced by Zemanta