At Water is Basic, we have a soft spot for folks that "get it".
For us, "it" is the idea that empowering local people to solve local problems is the cheapest, most efficient, and most productive way to make a huge difference in improving the lives of a country. Rich Westerners have wasted lots of time and money over the years by investing in other Westerners to solve local, African problems.
Over the weekend, Barry Segal, founder of the Segal Family Foundation, wrote an editorial for the Huffington Post that I really enjoyed.
Barry gets it.
A few highlights:
"We strive to improve the lives of people in Sub-Saharan Africa by seeking out and supporting grassroots solutions that might otherwise be overlooked. The Segal Family Foundation finds and funds the rising stars creating these solutions."
"There is a tendency of foundations to throw large amounts of money at problems without assuring that these investments deliver meaningful results. We don't subscribe to this philosophy and approach. We believe that it is often not the amount of dollars, but the focus and effectiveness of the dollars invested that is most important."
"Deo Niyizonkiza, a refugee from the war-torn African country of Burundi, left his homeland in 1993 with little beyond the clothes on his back. When he arrived in New York City, he didn't know a soul there, nor did he speak English. But a series of charitable deeds by complete strangers helped Deo transform himself from a homeless immigrant to an Ivy League student and eventually set up a health clinic back home to help those he left behind. His organization, Village Health Works is now treating tens of thousands patients per year."
Be inspired. We can do this.