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2nd Oct 2008

OK... so it seems the rise of the celebrity orphan is complete, having taken their place in the decade's zeitgeist as the ultimate accessory for the globally aware celebrity. Hot on the heels of Madonna, Angelina, Brad and Oprah, the multi-continental family has become the new blueprint for progressivism, the ultimate in designer family values.

It is the veritable orphan moment, but just how easy is it to acquire one? Adoption and orphanage people get very upset when one says aquire, so we're going to rephrase that to help. How to help an orphan.

For some reason we've been inundated with lots of orphan requests lately, so we had a look, and have the latest on the subject. But remember: an orphan isn't just for Christmas, its for life.

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Young girl, Steung Meanchey, Cambodia - Maciej Dakowicz
To get started, check out International Adoption Resources, who offer a handy comparison sheet for international adoptions. Although they only list a few countries and options, their campaigns on behalf of orphans and adoptive parents continue to gain momentum. Working with the IAR more and more great people are able to cut through the red tape to find a child they can help, and with hundreds of thousands of needy kids (if not millions?) their services offer valuable help to speed up and simplify the adoption process.

Although the IAR does not work specifically with celebrities looking for next season's Oscar win, they do think the recent attention to orphans and their celebrity moms have invigorated the area - helping many more kids find a healthy, happy home outside of a garbage dump, street alley, or if they are somewhat lucky, a children's home.

Not everyone can afford an orphan, as actually owning, rearing, and caring for a child can be expensive and time consuming. So instead of actually adopting, some people are choosing to simply get involved with improving the state of the orphan. This is where 88 Bikes comes in, which is a great idea started by some great Hub people. Jared Austin, Dan Austin and Nick Arauz set out to raise enough money to buy 88 bikes for orphans at the Palm Tree Centre in Phnom Phenh, Cambodia.

In January Dan and Jared will set out to Cambodia to do a 1000 mile bike ride and to deliver the bikes to the kids at the orphanage, which they will photoblog at the site to engage the donors in the experience. Response to their campaign has been swift and complete, allowing the boys to expand the program to buy bicycles for more orphans in Cambodia than the original 88 they were trying to help.

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A red bike with a bell! From 88 Bikes, Angkor, Cambodia
Using the power of the web, 88 Bikes is a great example of micro-giving that is transforming the way ordinary people give to causes. It's more of a project, and something that people can see they are having a direct and positive effect on. The best thing about the program is that individual donors are able to connect directly with the kids, potentially creating a life-changing experience for everyone.

This kind of philanthropy is picking up speed in Hub Culture, from the Wheasels (a Hong Kong social group) project to buy library books for orphans in India and Africa, to Hub Culture's own education efforts in Ethiopia. And the Sunrise Children's Village near Angkor has not only a sewing and carpentry school, but a computer school to really help the children gain important local and global knowledge. You know how much those little boys would love some new computer video games too!

It's easy to help an orphan, So what are we waiting for? There are lots of ways to help, whether you want one for keeps or just to make a difference...

Just in time for the holidays, here are a few sites to make donations and help orphans in a number of areas:
Visit an orphanage and play a game of footie with Brazilian orphans, donate a bicycle to less fortunate Cambodian kids at 88 Bikes or get an IAR Orphan Purse.

Orphan organizations to help:

Sunrise Children's Village, Cambodia
Orphans of Rwanda, Rwanda
Friends of Russian Orphans, Russia