On Dec. 17, 2010, ABC News aired a special edition of "20/20" called "Be the Change: Save a Life," hosted by World News anchor Diane Sawyer and senior health and medical editor Dr. Richard Besser. The special focused on the health conditions endured by the poorest of the poor in nine countries, and some of the innovations designed to help them.
The response from viewers was overwhelming. In the first week after the special aired, nearly 10,000 people donated more than $500,000 to organizations working on problems highlighted in "Be the Change: Save a Life" (Click here to watch the special).
In these tough economic times, this outpouring of support is astounding. The donations are coming in from far and wide, including seven countries and all 50 U.S. states, with individuals donating anywhere from $10 to $7,500.
Throughout the year, ABC News will document where these donations go, with help from Global Giving on SaveOne.net, the site that provided the online platform for donations.
Dr. Richard Besser highlighted a slum village in Bangladesh that had no clean water supply. The nonprofit organization CARE said it could provide a clean water source for $2,500. That amount was raised as the special aired. Since then, viewers have donated 12 times that -- all of which will be used to fund water projects in Bangladesh.
Christiane Amanpour reported on malnutrition among the indigenous Maya in the highlands of Guatemala, where in some villages up to 85 percent of children are malnourished. Viewers were so moved by the story that they have donated more than $133,000 -- enough for the featured nonprofit organization Wuqu' Kawoq to feed more than 2,200 children for a year. Director Peter Rohloff was excited about the donations raised: "This has been a great project for us," he said.
Elizabeth Vargas went to India, where nearly 2 million children die before the age of 5 each year, many of them before the first month of life. The Embrace Infant Warmer, an inexpensive, miniature sleeping bag that keeps newborns at a healthy body temperature, received more than 1,800 donations, supplementing the cost of more than 600 Embrace Infant Warmers. "We are touched by the outpour of responses and donations received, thank you Embrace supporters!" Embrace texted its Twitter followers during the special.
We know that these solutions are not always easy, and there may be difficulties along the way, but we will document those too if they occur. By the end of the year, we will be able to show how these donations have been put into action, and the lives they've touched.
This story is part of ABC News' "Be the Change: Save a Life" initiative, a year-long series of broadcasts and digital coverage that focuses on global health problems. For complete coverage and information on how you can make a difference, go to SaveOne.net.
People donated for different reasons. Many honored friends or family with donations made as tributes or gifts (see some of the messages below). Others donated to projects dealing with issues affecting their own lives, such as HIV/AIDS or premature births. Some people chose to give a recurring monthly donation, providing a long-term commitment to a project they felt was worthy.
What people had to say about why they gave: