Millionaire gives away fortune to microcredit charity

Austrian millionaire Karl Rabeder decided to raffle his Alpine home, selling 21,999 lottery tickets priced at just £87 each.

All the money will go into his microcredit charity, which offers small loans to Latin America and builds development aid strategies to self-employed people in El Salvador, Honduras, Bolivia, Peru, Argentina and Chile.

Since selling his belongings, Mr Rabeder said he felt "free, the opposite of heavy".

"For a long time I believed that more wealth and luxury automatically meant more happiness," he said. "I come from a very poor family where the rules were to work more to achieve more material things, and I applied this for many years," said Mr Rabeder.

But he said he did not judge those who chose to keep their wealth. "I do not have the right to give any other person advice. I was just listening to the voice of my heart and soul."


YouTube 'brings sexy back' to charity work

YouTube's Video Volunteers page pairs deserving but underfunded charities with creative video producers willing to help them.

"The nonprofits aren't that sexy -- but we're trying to bring sexy back a little bit to the nonprofits," said YouTube spokesman Aaron Zamost.

The Video Volunteers page lets nonprofits post descriptions of projects for which they need videos produced. Video artists, in turn, can scroll the offerings and pick a cause they'd like to help.

Since October, the site has featured a particular issue each month. February's issue is health. The best videos get featured on YouTube's main page, giving massive exposure to both the charity and the video artist.

"We would love to think users just do it out of the kindness of their own hearts," said Ramya Raghavan, the nonprofits and activism manager at YouTube, who said she thinks that's usually the case. "But I think the incentive piece does help a lot."

Watch sample 1-minute video


Haiti still starving nearing a month after the earthquake

Bill Quigley, Legal Director at the Center for Constitutional Rights, just returned from Haiti with this report:

You can walk down many of the streets of Port au Prince and see absolutely no evidence that the world community has helped Haiti. As many as a million people have still not received any international food assistance.

On February 4, the UN World Food Program reported they had given at least some food, mostly 55 pound bags of rice, to over a million people. The UN acknowledges that it still needs to reach another one million people. The 55 pounds of rice are expected to provide a two week food ration for a family. Beans and cooking oil are scheduled to come later.

The Associated Press reported that people in Haiti at small protests were holding up banners reading "Help us, we're starving."

Over a million people are displaced. About 10,000 families are in tents, the rest are living under sheets, blankets and tarps. One of the people living under a sheet is a brand new mother with her one day old baby. Rosalie Antoine, 33, and her one day old baby were living in a neighbor's yard in the Bel-Air neighborhood, along with puppies and chickens.


Congo: What does a poor country need to get aid? Publicity

Nicholas Kristoff writes in the New York Times:

Sometimes I wish eastern Congo could suffer an earthquake or a tsunami, so that it might finally get the attention it needs.

The barbaric civil war being waged in the Congo is the most lethal conflict since World War II and has claimed at least 30 times as many lives as the Haiti earthquake. Yet no humanitarian crisis generates so little attention per million corpses, or such a pathetic international response.

A peer-reviewed study found that 5.4 million people had already died in this war as of April 2007, and hundreds of thousands more have died as the situation has deteriorated since then.

This is a pointless war — now a dozen years old — driven by warlords, greed for minerals, ethnic tensions and complete impunity. While there is plenty of fault to go around, Rwanda has long played a particularly troubling role in many ways, including support for one of the militias. Rwanda’s government is dazzlingly successful at home, but next door in Congo, it appears complicit in war crimes.

It’s time to show the same compassion toward Congo that we have toward Haiti.