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Make a Difference Have you 'made a difference' while travelling, by fundraising or donating time and energy to a worthwhile cause such as wildlife conservation or tsunami reconstruction efforts? Tell us how you did it, what the experience was like, and how others can help. Are you a non-profit organisation or individual who knows of an opportunity for travellers to help out in a less developed country? Tell us about it and provide contact details here.
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  #16  
Old 26 Apr 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pete123 View Post
Perhaps I read the post differently?
I thought the guy meant that we shouldn't need charities, and that governments should be stepping in instead. If that is what he meant then I have to agree...
Thanks for the benefit of the doubt. It's appreciated. And yes, that is a sentiment of mine, though good 'intentions/road to hell' also figure large in my thoughts.

The example morinipete gave about the 20 Rothmans and a bottle of whiskey was a good one. Does the assaulted wife feel 'saved' I wonder? Perhaps her culture prevents her criticizing the one who's trying to help - or maybe she's just too kind to say - either way, the problem goes on.

Perhaps research into real consequences (and even asking permission?) is in order if I ever get an idea to help.

Thanks - and again, just my thoughts.

edit - apologies to everyone for some previous (now deleted) posts of mine.
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  #17  
Old 26 Apr 2009
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ok

It's a tricky topic and one full of ambiguities and hypocrisy. I have to say Morinipete has his feet on the ground, so to speak, and his educated observations have to be respected. Thanks MP for your insight, I learnt a lot. As previously mentioned, I attended a charitable event in aid of Vietnam's land mine victims and was astonished to learn that the locals were being charged the same entry fee as the ex-pats? That's equivalent to a week's wages for some. The thing I wanted to say was that this is an open forum, we don't always agree and an individual's opinions have to be respected, whether you find them insulting or not. Personally, I've changed my views on some things but not all. I wish I knew more. This is an interesting topic, please continue.
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  #18  
Old 26 Apr 2009
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OK, firstly Teflon, thanks for the PM, appreciated although I missed all the posts as I was in Cote d'Ivoire & Senegal at the time and not logging in!!!

Interestingly whilst I was in Senegal I met up with a personal representative of the CI President. I was introduced, not in my professional capacity but as someone who is actively involved with a centre of children; luckily this has added massive value to my professional role!!!

We talked in depth about the needs of Cote d'Ivoire's street, trafficked & orphaned children and the future that we'd both like to see.

Neither of us talked about the large NGO's out there, but more about what we could do on a personal scale. This for me was refreshing and I've been looking for someone in CI to help out on a project I want to start on the Abidjan - Lagos corridor.

My whole point of this thread was to make some people out there who are off on a trip, not to have their pay pal button/just giving button for the 'big' guys but look at what can be done & started on a small scale!

Thanks!

Kira
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  #19  
Old 27 Apr 2009
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private message

Hi just a quickie. I'm trying to send a private pm to a question by Mikb8man on this string, but it doesn't seem to be going ????? As such if you see this Mike send an email address.
Cheers
Pete
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  #20  
Old 28 Apr 2009
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It's not good to generalise

Hey, I completely agree with Kyra about the frustration of reaching out to people. I volunteer fund raise / try to raise the profile of a very small NGO I found working in Tajikistan. The are a very small charity, no head office, no paid marketing, fundraisers, etc. It was set up by a Brit and a Tajik - both who worked for large charities and thought they could do a better job. With investment by the Tajik and an input of their own funds they built a school - and now the Brit runs it. He's got no time to fundraise - it is always on a knife edge - and yet the work they are doing there against all odds is increadible. In a country like Tajikistan, education really appears to be the best thing for people and knowing that he has no funds he has tried to set it up as sustainable as possible - rich kids who want to learn pay fees, which pays for the teachers and the poor kids get free lessons. Add on top all the other stuff they teach and try to do, and it is an amazing NGO. BUT, because it is almost a one man band - he doesn't have the time to fundraise, he lives in the school (even though it has no proper running water, no air con, no fridge, etc), and he deals with it - for 7 years! I have so much respect for people who are living 'out there' - who are essentially doing the hard work. I was going to travelling and wanted to find a really small charity in the poorest place i was going to. I found this charity and got a wish list off them. After visiting, after meeting the kids, after everything - I feel compelled to try and help them. I think it would be a travesty if it was allowed to fail - simply because people don't know it exists so they won't/can't support it. Tajikistan is a destination more people are starting to think about visiting - if people want to find a cause, learn more, have a break, teach some english, etc, they can visit - they don't get special treatment - it is just a working school, but it is still a brilliant experience.
Myself and a friend have set up a rally and we, like Kyra are hoping that through that we will be able to get a minibus donated to the school - because they want to be able to take the kids out on day trips. So far it is actually looking promising on that front! We also figured - having no money ourselves - that it was the best way of raising a significant amount of money for them. So far...its a work in progress but its getting there...
Based on my experience I cannot say that I think small charities are not up to much. I've spent enough time at the school over two years and cannot fault anything - other than their sad lack of support.
I met a lady on the train this week, who's best friend works for the French Red Cross in North East Congo. She is a one woman band training nurses, setting up a program for a hospital there, and is the only westerner. She needs everything - bandages, glasses, etc. It is her friend - who doesn't work for an NGO who campaigns to get her these things, and also raised the money to get her a flight back (I don't know what the Red Cross is doing there as she doesn't seem to have any support). It is people like that - amazing people who need to be supported. Apparently that lady always knew she was going to work out in the Congo and although shes already had malaria and typhoid she loves it - as it is her calling. She isn't an aid worker who is doing it for a job, someone who has to get posted somewhere they don't really like first to go up the ladder - she is doing it for all the right reasons. There is so much wrong with NGOs and I find it fraustrating - so much money gets wasted, and I can think of so many things I want to get involved in to help, but I can't!
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  #21  
Old 9 May 2009
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Big charities and your cash!

Kira,I hear what you are saying,and my family and spent a long time researching how our money is used on the ground.Eventually we worked with a group in South Africa called gods golden acre.The funding they get is fairly substantial on the face of it(around a half million uk pounds).However when I did the maths,I could hardly believe how far they are able to stretch their resources.The stats - one orphanage with 100 kids/5 pre-schools/5000 kids in the community on various support programmes/95 staff(inc a handful of europeans), and 350 families on direct food aid costing around £30/family/month.When I say their are NO big salaries or fancy trimmings,you have to see it for youself,nothing goes to waste.But the tragedy is that to-day,very few Westerners take the time to see these things for themselves,so consequently it is left to glossy aid agencys to take what they can,and everyone goes on as misinformed and ignorant as usual.
However where big agencys score, is in having a lot of well informed/educated people with an organised infrastructure,who are more able to deal with a crisis on a large scale, that smaller operators could never hope to do - so who is right?
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  #22  
Old 17 Jan 2010
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Address the cause, not the symptoms

Excellent thread, I'm impressed and inspired with an idea or two. Although a bit surprised that I've yet to see anyone address what I see to be the root cause for the proliferation of NGOs in the first place.

Its western nations--the countries that most of us likely are citizens of--looting the resources (natural, human or otherwise) from the 3rd world. In other words, imperialism with the facade of benevolence. Its inequalities of power and the failure of western citizens--us--to hold our governments, our businesses and ourselves accountable for the corruption et al. that we are a part.

If we want to end 3rd world corruption a good start is to force our governments (US, UK, France, Russia, Germany etc...) to stop supporting corrupt, brutal officials who remain in power solely due to the coercive might of western military and economic power. It won't end all corruption but it will go a long way and its something we can actually affect as opposed to bitching about Mexican police (or your preferred corrupt authority).

My current vote for charities is the Middle Eastern Children's Alliance Middle East Children's Alliance*:*Index whom I hope to raise money for during my next ride. A look at their staff, board and advisers is a reassuring testament that they are doing the best they can, in my opinion of course.
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  #23  
Old 21 Feb 2010
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Location: Canby, Oregon
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Making a difference

It's great to read about so many people working on-the-ground, trying to make a difference. Kudos.

As a person who has worked both in aid office head quarters and in the field (most recently in Kabul, Afghanistan, in 2007), I see both sides, good and bad. I see incredibly dedicated, hard-working, sincere people both at HQs and in the field, and I also see apathetic or greedy people in BOTH places -- in HQs *and* in the field. I get a little tired of "HQ bad, local staff always good" comments. Local corruption and local inefficiencies can be just as jaw-dropping as the acts of clueless HQ staff. I also get tired of the "local people don't have time for all this paperwork." What's being asked for is often quite minimal -- it's asked for to ensure credibility and transparency, something donors are hugely concerned with. I've worked with local NGOs, helping them to improve their administrative operations and reporting, and I tie it directly to serving local people better. Once they see the point, they "get" it almost immediately and understand just how easy it is to do.

I have been writing on the subject of how to help others abroad through volunteering or while traveling for a while now. Here's some things I've written, which I hope you find helpful:

transire benefaciendo: "to travel along while doing good." Advice for those wanting to make their travel more than sight-seeing and shopping, whether in your own country or abroad.

vetting organizations in other countries: how to know if a local organizations is "for real" and your donation is going to fund the NGO's activities to help others, the community, the environment, etc.

realities of volunteering abroad: This is especially for people in the "Western" world who want to volunteer in the developing world. I discuss your options and how to get the skills you need for this work.

Also, for any of you working with local NGOs in the developing world who want to know how to fund raise, I have a free guide. Anyone can write me at jc@coyotecommunications.com and just tell me the name of your NGO, the developing country where it works and just a little about what it does, and I'll send you the guide.

transire benefaciendo, everyone.
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