The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a charitable organization, with a robust humanitarian aid program run largely by volunteers and a firm doctrinal foundation that celebrates and encourages giving to the poor.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said in last weekend’s General Conference that “although I may not be my brother’s keeper, I am my brother’s brother, and ‘because I have been given much, I too must give.'” He instructed Church members everywhere to “be as generous as circumstances permit in your fast offering and other humanitarian, educational, and missionary contributions. I promise that God will be generous to you, and those who find relief at your hand will call your name blessed forever.”
Church members can contribute financially in serval ways, one of which is by giving to the Church’s humanitarian aid program. One hundred percent of every donation given to the Church’s Humanitarian Services go directly to those in need. The Church absorbs all of its own overhead and administrative costs.
But what do those dollars actually do? Emergency responses get media attention, but there are other, less visible initiatives in the works all the time. Here are six you might want to know about (and consider donating to):
1. Neonatal resuscitation training
Many newborn babies have difficulty breathing at birth, and if medical personnel aren’t properly trained, these difficulties can be fatal. Approximately 900,000 babies die each year because they can’t breathe at birth, but LDS Charities is working to lower that number.
In 2013, volunteers trained 24,000 medical personnel in 33 countries in neonatal resuscitation. That includes 900 medical personnel in Namibia, 500 in the Dominican Republic and 600 in Ecuador.
“When we finished [one] training, we told all 60 midwives that they were going to receive their own ventilator bag and mask, suction device and stethoscope for their deliveries,” Dr. Michael Visick, an LDS Charities short-term specialist who works with the Helping Babies Breathe initiative, said in an LDS Philanthropies news article. “Everyone cheered and clapped! These midwives are doing home deliveries and do not have their own equipment to resuscitate babies. They were very excited to hear that they would receive this equipment.”
A $50 donation to the Church Humanitarian Fund can equip two midwives with the supplies they need to successfully resuscitate babies.
2. Clean water projects
Clean water is a luxury too many people in the world go without, battling thirst and disease as a result. LDS Charities has an initiative to build clean water and sanitation systems in communities that lack clean water and also teach community leaders hygiene and system maintenance. In this way, they help members of these communities in both the short and long term.
In 2013, LDS Charities provided clean water to 1.1 million people in 33 countries, including a rainwater catchment system for 10,000 people in Vanuatu, a stream capture system for 28,000 people in Indonesia and wells for 5,600 people in Zimbabwe.
3. Food production and nutrition initiatives
Like clean water, nutritionally adequate food is a necessity too many people go without. Millions of children around the world eat only one meal a day. LDS Charities helps by offering home food production and nutrition training to those in need. In this way, volunteers can help people become healthier, which leads to lower medical costs and fewer work absences and perpetuates self-reliance.
In 2013, 51,000 people in 16 countries (including Fiji, the Philippines and the United States) received training in home gardening, nutrition and food storage.
4. Wheelchair distribution
Millions of disabled people around the world struggle to gain access to needed medical supplies. An estimated 20 million people currently need wheelchairs but cannot obtain one. LDS Charities provides wheelchairs and walking aids to these people, helping them become more self-reliant by increasing their mobility, employability and independence.
LDS Charities provided 57,000 people with wheelchairs in 2013, including those in 54 countries. Four hundred thirty wheelchairs were provided in Kazakhstan, 1,484 wheelchairs went to Vietnam and 330 wheelchairs to Madagascar.
5. Vision treatment
In many countries, local doctors are trained to diagnose and treat vision problems but lack the equipment to do so. LDS Charities helps care for the millions of people around the world with vision problems by providing local doctors with the supplies they need to care for their patients.
In 2013, LDS Charities’ efforts led to improved vision care for 51,000 people in 24 countries, including Rwanda, Mongolia and Paraguay.
6. Childhood immunizations
In many developed countries, most children have access to life-saving vaccinations. But in other countries, such medical care is largely unavailable.
The LDS Church helps provide these vaccinations in a number of ways. In 2003, the Church donated $3 million to a worldwide initiative that helped provide measles vaccinations to children in 40 countries. In 2004, the Church participated in a measles vaccination campaign in Madagascar. From 2004 to 2009, 62,503 Church members in 35 countries volunteered to canvass neighborhoods and help at vaccination posts.
In 2009, the Church provided measles vaccination campaigns in the African countries of Botswana, Cape Verde, Kenya, Namibia, Sierra Leone, Swaziland and Uganda.