Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Much later - some cluclusions


This trip has redefined "poverty" for me. In the US we have NO CLUE as to what real poverty is. What is defined as poverty here -- living on SNAP and other "benefits" is living the life of luxury. Real poverty is raising a family of five children, a husband, a grandfather all on $3 per day, living in a structure that provides a roof over your head and four walls to keep things out with a blanket for a door.

Foreign Aid delivered directly to the needy, not through some third-world government makes sense and can make a difference. PEPFAR is an example of a small grants program from the US AID distributed directly to enduser organizations through the US Embassy in country and monitored by same. Nonprofits like Hope Fellowship Ministries in Zambia, Operation iDream in Sacramento, Spark Ventures in Chicago, Hope Ministries in Kenoza Lake, NY all inject directly into the local organization in-country.

To say the need is great is to understate the situation. In order to break the cycle of same-old, same-old, education is the key. It costs real money to send a child to public school!! Education is anything but free. That same mother raising her family on $3 per day having toi pay school fees makes it only possible to send one of her children to the Hope Village Community School for the "token" fee of $15 per year.

New clothes? Not really. You can buy used shoes and used clothing on the street stalls. I saw bales of used clothing being unpacked for sale on the streets. At least it's going for use. Yes, there are shiny shops in the Malls being build all over, but if you don't live in the city and have a paying job, there's no way you're even ever going to see the inside of a Mall, let alone go shopping.

Mindset is a huge factor in the lack of forward momentum. A hundred years of having the whites tell them what to do and when and how to do it left a lasting scar on the idea that initiative is within their grasp. Sixty years later the street and parking lot condition is abysmal. Part of the problem is that there is no word for the concept of "maintenance" in the local language. No concept, no word, no action. Use it until it breaks and wait for someone to fix it. The idea of fix it yourself or hold a governing body accountable seems to not exist. This is a huge opportunity for education to make a change.

Another issue is the NIH attitude and the lack of working together with other NGOs (nonprofits). For example, there is another community school a mile away from Hope Village that has another several hundred day students. Do you think the two directors meet and discuss their challenges and successes? Nope. I challenged the son of the director of the Eagle's Wings school to reach out and form the Council of Ndola NGOs. We'll see if that happens. If I were there for a longer period of time I'd grab them by the scruff of the neck and drag them kicking and screaming to a lunch meeting and make it happen. I find that conversation starts when breaking bread together. Who knows what might come out of that.

Community School is a great idea! Funding for operations is a problem. Books are scarce and a luxury. Things we take for granted not even available as hand-me-downs.   Buying books for 350 children just isn't in the picture -- everything is going to keeping teachers and feeding the children on meal a day -- books are a luxury. Technology? Forget about it! We need companies like Apple to spend some of the billions of dollars they are sitting on to help change the world. Paying an executive $22 Million a year is obscene when there is such desperate need in the world!

Fortunately Hope Village is blessed with leadership and support organizations that are helping to make real difference in one rural village. With a budget of over $100,000 this year and support to the tune of 50% from the US Nonprofits, they are left with the need to supplement to the tune of another $50,000. How to make that happen?

Raising chickens for the large Zambian company ZamBeef can make up 10% of that shortfall if the weather cooperates and the animals stay healthy. Raising their own vegetables for the daily meals will offset another part. Where is the rest going to come from? Good question. Those are the issues that are facing us now. The need for them to become 100% self-supporting is daunting, but not insurmountable.

Another piece of the education puzzle is education of the community around the issue of the AIDS pandemic. There are 1.5 social workers at Hope Village and their task is outreach into the community. That need is something that the US Government is keenly aware of that that's what the PEPFAR Grants are for. One needs to apply though.

I'm now working with Operation iDream to organize a fund raising mission trip for 15 people in February 2018 to go and spend five days hands-on at Hope Village and then get to do a bit of sight seeing as well. Looks like the cost will be in the $4,500 range with $1,000 of that cost being a tax-deductible donation to Hope Village, the designated purpose to be determined in the next few weeks.

Stay tuned for more.

Many Days Later - post script

So, it's Tuesday afternoon and I've been back almost a week. I must confess that I would be happy to get on a plane this afternoon and go back for six months. Twelve days is just enough time to begin to see things. I think that six months would be a good period of time to be able to actually do some good and begin to get the ball rolling for change.

There is so much that we here in the US just take for granted -- Clean drinking water, accountable local government, opportunities for advancement, health care, broadband internet, the list goes on. We are so spoiled. And there are days where we are blindered to the rest of the world.

The task at Hope Village is daunting -- complete the community center/sanctuary -- it needs a roof, floor, windows; build another building to house the pre-school -- make the building blocks from the sandy clay ant hill on the property and fire them and then actually construct and finish the building; feed 352 children every day; keep the faith; evangelize; do AIDS prevention education; counsel at-risk families; purchase land for the agricultural outreach and to grow vegetables for the school and orphanage while teaching best practices for subsistance farming in the village; reach for self-sufficiency. Financial resources are limiting factors. The group that has been funding the school has cut their funding in half and that shortfall is being difficult to make up.

The chicken farm outside of Lusaka is one bright spot on the horizon. When it is in full production it should contribute about 10% of the fixed costs for Hope Fellowship Ministries -- school and orphanage -- a giant step in the right direction of a sustainable revenue stream, but they need to do much more.

I see a need for them to hold local government accountable for stupid stuff like maintenance of the 2.8 km road to the village which has the mother of all potholes from one end to the other. When queried about it there was just a shrug and a "there's nothing we can do about it". They pay property taxes and get nothing in return. I find that maddening.

I've mentioned a goat dairy operation which could provide another revenue stream for both dairy and meat. The South African boer goat would be ideally suited to the climate in Zambia. And provide an opportunity for someone with expertise from here to go and do the knowledge transfer and help make a difference.