Charities and houses

This post is sponsored by Navtej Kohli (1, 2, 3, 4). He’s an Indian, presumably quite well off and founder of the Navtej Kholi foundation. And his Linked In profile contains a glaring spelling mistake, plus he has no connections there. Odd.
Also, surprisingly for a philanthropist, Google News returns exactly three hits when searching for his name, with the oldest being from 1997, where one of them talks about him being charged with conspiracy and mail fraud. A news search for Tej Kohli returns two hits about some setup called Pop-Up Shop. An interesting concept in itself as a pop-up shop seemingly is “like a regular American Apparel store, only temporary – up in 5 days, and gone in 45”.
It gets more confusing as a profile for Navtej Kohli on seomoz.org shows that that profile is for the guy sponsoring this article, while he himself admits there’s another “famous Kohli” guy out there. With a name like that, you’d think there’d be only one Navtej Kohli, but no. Imagine how pissed I’d be if I’d find someone else called Babak Fakhamzadeh. I’d kill the bastard! Well, maybe not.

Anyway, a Navtej Kohli is sponsoring me to talk about my favorite charity. Easy, I thought, because I surely was going to chat about Geekcorps. However, the one requirement for this post was to talk about a charity listed on Charity Navigator. And Geekcorps isn’t on it. My obvious second choice was HDN, but that one, too, wasn’t available. And by then I had already committed to talking about my favorite charity. And, obviously, Khazimula (website currently not yet online), was not going to be a possibility either, just being way too small and unknown.

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Which brings my to my fourth choice, Habitat for Humanity, which actually has 50 organizations listed on Charity Navigator. Some of you might recall I actually organized a ‘building trip’ with Habitat in the summer of 2000 for Veto, my fraternity, bringing us to Beius, Romania, where we built a house.
I still get regular mail from Habitat, asking me to fund some new or old project they’re working on. Although I don’t really appreciate those requests for money (I can perfectly well decide myself who I want to support or not), I do appreciate their work. Habitat basically builds houses for the poor.

Our trip to Beius was quite typical for Habitat’s modus operandi. We sponsored their project in Beius, with money, but also went there ourselves to help build a house. On top of that, typically, the beneficiaries are also required to help build their own house. Because, often, these houses are built in disadvantaged social environments, many of these beneficiaries either don’t have a job or have a very insecure job and regularly, building these houses also is a form of job creation. This, even long term, as Habitat builds series of houses, not individual units.
Additionally, the houses aren’t given away for free, but at an advantageous, to the future owner, lease.

Habitat has been building houses since 1976, starting in what was then Zaire, and in 2004, the 30.000th house was put up in the Africa and Middle East region. The organization’s most well known spokesman is former president and peanut farmer Jimmy Carter. And, indeed, to quite a few that is not a recommendation in itself. You’re wrong in thinking Habitat typically works in Africa and the Middle East as the total count of houses built through the help of Habitat has surpassed 220000, including houses in all of the United States.

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Surprisingly, the website of Habitat seems to put an emphasis on supporting the organization financially, where I found that supporting them by actually physically helping the building of a house is extremely rewarding. More so than just transferring a few euros into their bank accounts.