Sunday, December 12, 2010

A World of Giving

By Hilary Davidson

You know that old adage about charity beginning at home? Lily Moore, the main character in
The Damage Done, has followed that saying a little too far. The main recipient of her generosity has been her younger sister, Claudia, who knows exactly what buttons to press to get Lily to do what she wants her to. That's how she ended up living in Lily's apartment on New York's Lower East Side. Claudia, while always on the taking end with Lily, can be generous with her own friends. That has led to situations like the morning when Lily woke up to find a homeless woman passed out on her couch; when Lily got her up, the woman pulled a knife on her.

It's not hard to figure out why Lily uprooted herself one day and moved to Spain. Unfortunately for her, even though she was traveling light, she brought along her overdeveloped sense of guilt. That's why Lily continues to write a check every month for her New York rent; she's soft-hearted enough to want to make sure that Claudia has a roof over her head. But Lily isn't soft-headed, which is why she mails the check directly to her landlord; she knows that if she mailed it to her sister, it would be spent on drugs.

Lily finds it hard to say no to people who need help. She's been poor, she's been hungry, and she's survived on the fringes when she was growing up. Because Lily is a travel journalist, she's had the opportunity to travel around the globe. And even though travel writers are often wrapped in a cocoon of luxury — staying at the best resorts, eating at the best restaurants, sunning themselves on private beaches — Lily has seen grinding poverty up close. The result is that she's drawn to organizations that help people wherever there is need:

Doctors Without Borders: Claudia likes to tell Lily that "Deep down, you're pretty superficial." But while Lily regards her own work as frivolous, she's drawn to important causes, and this would be one of them. DWB is an international medical humanitarian organization that assists people in more than 60 countries.

Kiva: While traveling through developing countries in Southeast Asia and India, Lily has seen some of this microfinance group's work up close. Kiva makes small loans to hardworking, entrepreneurial people in more than 50 countries, lifting many out of poverty.

Heifer International: Lily is a soft touch, after all. Give her the chance to buy some fuzzy ducklings, a goat, or a water buffalo for a village in need and she will do it.

(P.S. The photo above is one I took in Peru, where the second book with Lily — The Next One to Fall, coming in fall 2011 — is set. That's a flock of alpaca with adults, children, and a few dogs herding them.)


12 comments:

Chris said...

My sister gave Kat and I part of a goat through Heifer International for Christmas! What a strange and fantastic charity...

Evil Ray said...

All excellent choices for getting one's philanthrope on, Miss Hilary. If we can make the world a better place for everyone to live, then the world a better place for everyone to live.

Reece said...

Greetings from another newbie to this blog. These are certainly worthy charities. And congrats on the success of "The Damage Done"! Peru should make a really intriguing setting for your next book.

Pop Culture Nerd said...

Those are great charities, Hilary. I love your travel photos and can't wait to read more about Peru in THE NEXT ONE. (See how clever I was there?) It's one of the places on my want-to-visit list.

Michael Wiley said...

Now Lily is also contributing to Heifer International (the same charity to which my PI, Joe Kozmarski, contributed in yesterday's post).

Each year my parents make a donation to H.I. . . . and I'm pleased that families around the world are receiving animals that will help them survive and thrive; but there's still something silly about giving a llama or a sheep, I think.

Great to have you here, Hilary!

Rebecca Cantrell said...

Great post, Hilary! Ah, the bond between sisters. Wonderful charities!

Michael, please don't give me either a llama or a sheep for Christmas.

Hilary Davidson said...

Thanks for your great comments Chris, Evil Ray, Reece, PCN, and Michael! I'm thrilled to find out that there are so many Heifer fans out there. While I agree with Michael that there's something inherently silly about giving a llama or sheep (never mind a water buffalo), it's amazing to think about how an organization like Heifer can transform a family's life... and often a community's as well. Chris is right — it really is a strange and fantastic charity!

Hilary Davidson said...

Rebecca, thanks for stopping by! While I would like for Michael to get me a llama for Xmas, I know I'd have trouble from my building's co-op board. Stupid rules!

The best thing about this week's question is learning about some wonderful organizations. I didn't know about the Kindertransport Association until Rebecca mentioned it in her post on Tuesday. Amazing.

Shane Gericke said...

That's the great thing about setting stories in cool places like Peru, Hilary--it gives us a chance to go visit them for, um, "research"! Very nice post.

Kelli Stanley said...

Wonderful post and wonderful causes, Hilary! :)

Given its well-deserved popularity, I think Heifer International rates as the "official" Criminal Minds charity this year!

And cool photos--can't wait for the next book! :)

Michael Wiley said...

Sorry, Rebecca, the llama's already in the mail. And sorry, Hilary, but they were out of llamas (Rebecca's being the last one); so you can expect the water buffalo . . . in a large UPS box.

Hilary Davidson said...

I know it's better to give than to receive, but I was hoping to get that llama for myself this year. Well, at least the water buffalo will make an interesting addition to my apartment. Hmm. Thanks, Michael. I think. Also, thanks to Shane and Kelli for stopping by!