Ok so here's my first recommendation for you to start the year by giving back.

Did you know that over a quarter of a million poor primary age children in Indonesia aren't going to school even though it's supposedly free? And did you know that only 55% of poor children complete junior high (SMP)? That means, almost half of the these children have to start working or getting married at age 14-15!!
I bet you didn't know that...

Now, there are many organizations who help kids find sponsors, and Yayasan Usaha Mulia is one of them. But you can start even closer to home, with your staff's own children, or the children of the person collecting your garbage or the security guy in your compound. It really isn't much money at all; I'll give you an example. At YUM, our Sponsorship Program helps primary school children and secondary school children. For primary school children, we ask donors for Rp. 1,500,000 per year and for secondary school, we ask Rp. 2,500,000. Now, this may seem a little more than you expected, but we deal with children from a very poor background, so besides the school fee, we also give for books, uniform, exam costs, extracurricular, transport, bi-annual medical check-ups and bi-monthly parenting and health workshops for the parents. We also have a full-time staff who monitors these kids and makes sure they stay in school...
Now think about it, if you think in terms of monthly cost, it's only between Rp.130,000 and Rp. 200,000 approximately.... Come on, that's one meal at a nice restaurant or a t-shirt :)

I myself started sponsoring a girl last year, together with my aunt and uncle from France, and added another little kid a few months ago. I'm happy to know they can stay in school and hopefully one day, acquire some skills to be able to find a decent job and live a decent, happy life.

One more thing I'd like to add and this is really important: once you start sponsoring a child, think about seeing through until the end of his or her studies. It's great to help for a full year, but it's a dreadful feeling for the child to know that her or his sponsor has dropped him/her and the child doesn't know whether he/she can stay in school...

Read Kukywa's story about sponsoring a child on her blog :)