• The Ideal Holiday Gift: A Toilet!

    Now that Thanksgiving is over, it's time to make those Christmas lists. I'm sure there is someone on the list who you feel obligated to give a gift, but has everything. Or maybe they don't have everything, but you haven't a clue what to get. Maybe you always pick out the wrong thing and your gift gets regifted or unused.

    This year, consider the perfect solution. A toilet. On the behalf of the person you need to get the gift for, buy a toilet for someone who really needs one. There are millions of people in the developing world who don't have a pot to piss in -- literally. Your gift recipient will get a warm, fuzzy feeling at the thought you put into this gift and the fact that your gift will have a major impact on the life of someone else.

    Vist the World Toilet Organization to find out how you can gift a toilet.

  • 12 Days of Christmas: Digital Rabbit's Gift Guide

    For 12 days, starting tomorrow, I'll be highlighting gifts to help those of you who are looking for holidays gift ideas for friends and family. You can make sure that you receive my gift wisdom by subscribing to the Digital Rabbit blog.

    Happy shopping!

  • Stumped for Christmas Gift Ideas? Adopt a School

    If you can't think of a gift for someone, that's a sure sign that they either don't need or want anything, or you don't really know them that well. If that's the case, the perfect gift is to help someone else out in the name of your gift recipient.

    There are many places in the world where home isn't the most comfortable place to be because of the lack of running water, sanitation, electricity, and adequate food. Touch Africa's mission is to make school a better place than home, and "to provide self sustaining achievable projects which, will ultimately change childrens' lives."

    I personally think that home should be as good as school, too. But in many countries the first achievable goal is to improve the schools. Education can empower people with the skills to improve their lives economically.

    So give it up for Adopt a School. Make a donation in the name of that person for whom your are stumped for gift ideas. Contact Elise Fish to find out more:

    More about the program (from the Touch Africa website):

    Adopt a School

    The concept of making school a better place than home is an incredibly easy thing to do. With this there will be a natural migration to school with attendance increasing and more children potentially realizing their short term dreams and finishing Grade 12. The simple ways of Making School a better place than home are:

    1. Providing Electricity – Access to Educational TV , Warmth
    2. Providing comfortable Infrastructure- Desks , Chairs
    3. Providing decent ablutions – Home does not have running water
    4. Providing Sporting Facilities – This makes School a cool place to hang around
    5. Container Kitchens and Vegetable Gardens – They have to be self sufficient and this has been very successful in our Storms River Project.

    Adopting a school is all about taking ownership and focusing on changing lives. Its measurable and sustainable.

    The Storms River School is in need of a Grade R Class as well as a Day Care Facility which will also require the provision of additional ablution facilities. This project has been adopted by WRN (World Relief Now) thanks to the tireless work of Mr Steve Huff.

    The monies raised will ensure the construction of ablution facilities as well as a Grade R and Creche facilities.

    We are now looking for donors to adopt the school to provide equipment and furnishings. Get Involved and make your pledge.

  • Lifesaver Bottles: A 2-for-1 Holiday Gift Idea

    Do you have an avid hiker or military person on your gift list? Someone who spends time in the wilds and usually carries water with them? The consider the LIFESAVER "Buy one, gift one" program. Your gift recipient will not only receive a fine gift, but will be super-impressed that you also gifted a Lifesaver bottle to someone around the world who doesn't have access to safe drinking water.

    The bottle is equipped with filtration membranes and an activated carbon filer that removes bacteria, viruses, cysts, parasites, fungi, and all other waterborne nasty bugs. No iodine or chlorine! You fill the bottom with water from any source, including scavenged water. Then drink out of the bottle. It's clean water!

    Your hiking friends won't have to carry water. Just the bottle. Your military friends will be able to drink scavenged water if they get into a dire situation. And your gift bottle will go to the Typhoon Ketsana Aid appeal.

  • Pretty Pictures and Alarming Facts Make Great Gifts at a Bargain Price!

    The avid readers on your holiday gift list are sure to be impressed by the book Blue Planet Run: The Race to Provide Safe Drinking Water to the World. Some time ago, I provided a link to the PDF version of this book which you can get for free. But the print version is far more impressive. Amazon recently repriced it so the book it practically free. It is only $14.04 USD, down from $45.00. Your friends will think you spent far more than you did.

    To convince you how great this book is, read this excerpt from an Amazon reviewer:

    "Awesome, simply awesome. Not only do you learn about "water," its' characteristics and challenges to people all over the world, some one billion having little access to clean water, but the photography is magnificent. The scenes are realistic, yet compassionate and communicate deeply. The people shots become you, me.... Buy this book, you'll learn from it, delight in the photographs, you'll find sadness, joy, hope in it. And, you'll be inspired to action."

    Don't waste anytime. Snatch up this bargain book now!

    Then visit the Blue Planet Run website.

  • Holiday Gift Idea: Put Some Meat on This Boy's Arms

    Are you one of those people who enjoys giving gifts of food to family and friends for Christmas? Gourmet cheese packs, fresh fruit, organic wine, specialty chocolates, antelope salami, buffalo steaks, and the like? Before you order that yummy gift, consider the girth of your gift recipient's arm. 

    MUAC looks sort of like a tape measure. But is it a tool used to judge whether a child is suffering from malnutrition. You wrap it around the upper arm. If the child's arm is in the green range, they are normal. Yellow is at risk. Orange means moderate malnutrition. Red means severe malnutrition. The little boy in the photo has severe malnutrition. (Photo courtey of Doctors Without Borders.)

    In addition to that gift of food you plan to send your friend or family, consider also donating to help put meat the the arms of children with malnutrition. You can donate a gift in the name of your friend or relative. I bet that will impress your gift recipient even more than the gourmet food item.

    Doctors Without Borders is one of the front-line nonprofits that works with malnourished children. Visit their site and donate now.

    The MUAC tool used to diagnose malnutrition.

  • Great Gifts for the Thirsty on Your List: Bottled Water Makers

    Got some people on your holiday gift list who are always slurping bottled water? Give them something to wean them from the bottled water habit. You'll not only help your friends save money on future purchases of bottled water, but you'll help stop corporate water giants from sucking down the water tables of rural communities. You'll reduce the waste created by all those "recyclable" water bottles too.

    To make bottled water, you need two things: a water tap and a bottle. Sounds simple? Chances are that your gift recipient already has a water tap at home. All you need to buy is the bottle.

    Here's are two places where you can purchase reusable bottles:

    If your gift recipient prefers carbonated water, then consider giving them something like the SodaStream.

  • Give the Gift of Making History

    Guinea worm is a parasitic disease contracted by drinking water contaminated with larvae. Inside the human body, the larvae mature into long, spaghetti-like worms that eventually exit the body through painful blisters in the skin. The crippling pain leaves victims unable to work or attend school, sometimes for months, until the worms completely emerge from the body. (Photo by Louise Gubb of the Carter Center.)

    History buffs on your holiday gift list will be flattered when you donate in their name to help the Carter Foundation make history by eradicating the Guinea Worm.

    The foundation is very close to eliminating this alien monstrosity. There are only 6 countries left with the disease, reporting 4,600 cases. That's down from 3.5 million cases in 1986. Help them finish up quickly.

    Eradication requires two things:

    1. Getting people to drink filtered water so they don't get the parasite to begin with.
    2. Containing the infected person during the time the worm crawls through their skin.

    Having a worm crawl through your skin is excruciating.

    If you are not convinced this gift is worthwhile, read Sadia's Story, provided by the Carter Foundation:

    Triumph Over Guinea Worm (2008)

    In 2007, Sadia Mesuna—a young girl from Savelugu town in Northern Ghana—spent two agonizing months in a Carter Center Guinea worm containment center with 20 other children suffering from the disease. Today, Sadia, 7, is Guinea worm-free and has returned to school. This is her story of triumph and a new life without fear.

    Sadia Mesuna, 6, was in agony in February 2007 as three Guinea worms emerged from her feet, forcing her to spend two months at the containment center. "It was very painful, especially when they were dressing my wounds," Sadia said. "It feels more painful than stepping on fire coals or being cut. And you don't feel like eating anything."

    After treatment, Sadia recovers in a quiet corner, also rediscovering her sense of humor as she dons a volunteer's sunglasses, worn upside down.

    Sadia returns some days to her school, but after her two-month absence with Guinea worm disease in 2007, she struggles to cope and catch up.

    "I'll only drink filtered water from now on," vowed Sadia.

  • Give the Gift of Life

    What could make the people on your holiday gift list happier than knowing that they saved the life of a child, mother, or father? For only $10, you can provide a mosquito net to someone who lives in a malaria-infested area. Millions die each year from malaria, a nasty disease transmitted by infected mosquitoes. World Relief Now delivers nets to villages that are hard-hit by malaria.

    These are children with new mosquito nets from World Relief Now.

    Find out more about malaria.

    Go directly to the World Relief Now donation page.

  • Nothing Says "I Love You" Better Than a Cow

    Are you looking for something special to give that person you are dating or engaged to? Nothing impresses more than a cow. You can donate money to Send A Cow in your loved one's name. In turn, they purchase a cow in Africa and give that cow to a family in need. The family who gets the cow must give something back to their community—the cow's offspring, seeds resulting from increased crop production, or training. Families obtain financial independence while at the same time improve their neighbors' lives.

    Send a Cow says:

    • People expect to receive an average of 7 presents this Christmas
    • At least one present under the tree will be something people don’t need
    • 62% of people would happily give up a present for an ethical gift

    Visit their site today!

  • Can't Find a Gift to Give? Why Not Give a Sh*t!

    The goal of the ‘Give a Sh*t’ (GAS) campaign is to tackle the taboo of the toilet. They want you to talk about poop! I know that seems odd, as most of us prefer not to talk about toilet issues. We avoid the subject. GAS says we must talk sanitation because "so many people die when we let our embarrassment get in the way. There are 2.5 billion people, to be precise, across the world who are living without a toilet!"

    One of the things you can do to raise awareness of sanitation issues is to buy Luke Barclay's book "A Loo with a View" and give it to people on your gift list. If they look bewildered when they receive this book of outstanding photos, you can take the opportunity to alert them to the dire state of sanitation in the world. Advise your gift recipient to visit the World Toilet Organization website and gift a toilet.

  • The Perfect Gift for the Cruisers on Your Christmas List: The Other Face of Haiti

    Do you have friends or relatives on your Christmas gift list who enjoy vacations on cruise ships? The New York Times recently featured a story on a Royal Caribbean cruise that stops at the Labadie Beach Resort in northern Haiti. If you know anyone who is planning on a Caribbean cruise with that or another cruise line, get them a copy of Tracy Kidder's book "Mountains Beyond Mountains." The book follows the life of Dr. Paul Farmer—a great champion of health care for the poor. He also founded Partners In Health. Your cruising friends will have a chance to learn about the side a Haiti that they will never see from the cruise ship.

    You are your gift recipients can help Partners in Health break the cycle of poverty and disease by donating to them.

    More on Partners In Health in Haiti.

    More on HIV in the Caribbean.

  • A Sick Gift Suggestion

    Most of the people on your list probably enjoy watching a good movie. Sicko is a must-see, one of Michael Moore's best films. I had tears in my eyes when it ended at the thought of how many desperate people we have in our own country and how bamboozled we've been by those in power. There are so many US citizens without health care and no hope to get it.

    I thought I had a pretty good health care plan, but when I saw the benefits other countries provide, my inclination was to move to one of them. Our politicians, lobbyists, and drug companies want us to believe we have the best in the world. We don't.

    Give this movie to people on your gift shopping list and you'll open a few eyes. We don't have any hope of getting the great health care that France, Canada, Britain, and many other countries have unless all Americans demand it. Watch Sicko and you'll understand just how sick our health care system it. It's a great gift.

    You can purchase Sicko from Amazon.

    From Michael Moore's website:

    FILM: Sicko

    The words "health care" and "comedy" aren't usually found in the same sentence, but in Academy Award winning filmmaker Michael Moore's new movie 'SiCKO,' they go together hand in (rubber) glove.

    While Moore's 'SiCKO' follows the trailblazing path of previous hit films, the Oscar-winning BOWLING FOR COLUMBINE and all-time box-office documentary champ FAHRENHEIT 9/11, it is also something very different for Michael Moore. 'SiCKO' is a straight-from-the-heart portrait of the crazy and sometimes cruel U.S. health care system, told from the vantage of everyday people faced with extraordinary and bizarre challenges in their quest for basic health coverage.

    In the tradition of Mark Twain or Will Rogers, 'SiCKO' uses humor to tell these compelling stories, leading the audience to conclude that an alternative system is the only possible answer.

  • Our Choice: A Gift Idea for Young Readers

    You probably heard that last month Al Gore published Our Choice: How We Can Solve the Climate Crisis. You might not be aware that he also published a Young Reader's Edition that's targeted at 9 - 12 year olds. Inspire the kids on your list with this book.

    One Amazon reviewer says:

    "Picked this book up for my daughter and she really enjoyed it.

    She continues to be more aware of the consequences that we all face by continuing our wasteful and destructive lifestyles.

    Some say climate chance is nonsense and man-made pollutions have nothing to do with it.....I say whether you agree or not, what does it hurt to try and make our world a cleaner, healthier place to live? "