Stay at a Sage hotel, donate to Haiti relief

There are countless ways you can donate money and supplies to help the victims of the Haiti earthquake. Here’s one more way you can help, just by going about your travels. Stay at a Sage Hospitality Group hotel, now through the end of January, and the company will give $10 per room, per night to the Red Cross.

54 Sage hotels throughout the US are participating in the promotion. Guests do need to book the special “Help Haiti” rate, which has limited availability, in order to make the donation.

The Sage group is offering a few other promotions that benefit victims of the disaster. Coco Key Water Resorts, a division of the hotel group, will offer 1% of all food and beverage purchases to the Red Cross, and will offer a $5 pass on January 26, with all proceeds going to the Red Cross.

Sage has a history of offering great rates and promotions to help others. In the past, they’ve offered free nights to volunteers, service-people, and teachers.

Help Gadling buy this woman a cow

If you’ve ever traveled to a third world country and fell in love with its people, you know that feeling of guilt that inevitably arises when you realize just how difficult life can be for those less privileged than you.

Most travelers caught up in this epiphany often wonder what they can do to help, how can they give something back to the wonderful locals who made their trip so memorable? Unfortunately, so many of us return from our travels with good intentions, but poor follow-through.

If this happens to be you, than today is your lucky day; Gadling is here to help and it’s not going to cost you a thing.

Just in time for the Holidays, Gadling is teaming up with Kiva, a unique non-profit that provides micro loans to “help the world’s working poor make great strides towards economic independence.”

The concept is simple. Local entrepreneurs contact Kiva’s field partners around the globe requesting small loans to help out their businesses–which are often not much more than a single cow or perhaps a roadside stand selling melons. The field partners determine risk, and if acceptable, will then post a description of the loan on the Kiva website. In addition, the field partners will also post information about the borrower, thus adding a human face to the transaction.

Anyone interested in providing a micro loan can then sign on to the Kiva website and lend money ($25 minimum) to the entrepreneur(s) of their choice.

So this is where you come in. Gadling is looking for your guidance to help direct our loan to a deserving individual whose business we will then spotlight over the next 8-12 months while the loan is being repaid.

We’ve included six choices below (with descriptions provided by Kiva) but feel free to visit the website and expand the selection. Loans surprisingly move quickly on this popular site–Fatima Huseynova featured in the photo above just received money for her cow last week–so let’s hear your thoughts in the comments section below as quickly as possible and we’ll announce our choice next week.

Alisher Musoev has been in the bakery business for 7 years. So that he could provide for his family, he started working as a trainee in one of the local bakeries at the age of 16. For one work shift that usually lasted 17 hours he was only paid 6 to 7 loafs of bread, which was not enough for his family. He started looking for a space so he could open his own business. Once he found one, he started his own bakery. In the beginning, he was only baking for special orders for weddings because he was short of cash. After a period of time, when he accumulated more funds, he started producing bread for the sales on the market. Currently, his father and two hired employees, who are paid 450 somoni, are helping him in the business. Alisher is asking for additional funding so that he could increase his production.

Mrs. Sout Sro Em, age 25, is a traditional musician, earning around $5 each day. Her husband works driving a trailer attached to a motor-bike to transport passengers, making about $4 per day. They have one child who is too young to attend school. She would like to request a loan of $1000 in order seek an additional income source by purchasing pigs to breed and sell. She also plans to fix her husband’s broken trailer so he can better operate his business.

Fatima is a 47 year old mother of four children. Fatima is a very serious and committed microentrepreneur. She lives in South Lebanon, in the region of Saida. Fatima works with her husband cooking falafel, chickpeas and beans. She needs a loan of $1200 to buy a new chickpea processor and provisions for the business. This is the sixth time Fatima is asking for a loan from Al Majmoua.

Farming and the production of fruits are the main activity of most of the settlers of the Peruvian forest. Don Rolando is one of these men, who learned from his parents the skills and secrets of this beautiful activity. This education has now allowed him to be a man with multiple skills for agriculture and most of all it has allowed him to support his dear family in these days of multiple economic problems. He has a partner and his desire is to get married and build a small house and condition it to open a small grocery store to help with the expenses of the house. He is asking for a loan that will allow Rolando to have a bigger income this year and achieve all these goals.

I am Amna Bibi. I am a mother of six: four boys and two girls. Currently, only the elder two attend school while the others are too small. My husband works for skimpy pay and I own a few cows and sell their milk. Last year, I took a loan for my business, which resulted in increased profits, and I was able to save $250. Now I wish to further expand my business and require a loan of $350 for this purpose.

Djeyhun (his sister is pictured) has his own business. He was born in 1984 and lives in the Salyan region in the village of Yenikand. This man is single. He has been in this business for 8 years. Now he needs a loan of $1,200 to buy foodstuffs for improving his business.

Feed the hungry for free

Last week I gave a quick shout-out to Free Rice in a post about rethinking African aid. Since then, I’ve really gotten addicted to this website. You learn words and help feed the poor. What can be better.

The way the website works, you never get bored because the words are tailored to your ability level. So you could be a Chinese student learning English for the first time or a word Nazi over at the New Yorker. Works for both.

I think this is a great example of how the Internet has reinvented the nonprofit field. Not only does it make donating easier, but here’s a case where you don’t even have to shell out a buck. Definitely worth a play.

Stop giving money to Africa!

There’s been a lot of press and policy rejiggering over traditional attitudes towards African aid. We’ve seen for decades of its effects, or more accurately, lack of. One example from this year really showcases how domestic policies and investments, not aid, can pull Africa out of poverty.

In 2005, five of the 15 million people in Malawi needed emergency food aid. But this year, thanks to heavier agricultural subsidies (which goes against Western policies), it’s actually exporting hundreds of thousands of tons of corn.

As hard as it it to think about starving children, perhaps it’s more unsettling to think about starving children being around for generation after generation. But that’s what financial aid does. Africans don’t need handouts as much as they need investments and policies to cultivate entrepreneurial spirit.

Still, I do feel somewhat bad for taking this stance, so to make up for it, I’m directing you to Free Rice (“for each word you get right, we donate 20 grains of rice”).

Get your Ski-Mojo working!

No, it’s not what you are thinking. Ski-Mojo is gear that will help you ski longer should you not be able to keep that squat while skiing for an extended period of time.

The little mechanism that is strapped to your backside and rods down to your knees and somehow connects into your boots, has been in development for the last 11 years and finally hit the stores last week for a whopping £289 — but then skiing has always been an expensive sport.

Apparently it reduces fatigue and enhances your control and balance on the slopes. I suppose the mojo lets you rest on it in some way; but will you still build the muscle? or will you have to forgo the tight-butt and thigh muscle cuts?

Although I wouldn’t buy it (I’d feel really old), it’s available for skiers of all standards. Want it or not, the website (“this is no hoodoo”) is funny and worth looking at for a giggle.

[Via Guardian]