Thursday, January 7, 2016

Supporting Africa

I have been to Kenya and Uganda assisting Generis International, an organization dedicated to improving the education of children and women in East Africa.  I learned very quickly that without "boots on the ground" you will never be assured that your donations are dispensed properly.  The poverty seems vast and unending.  Generis does put "boots on the ground."  Though a very small organization, it is large in what it accomplishes.  Small ideas can bring about large realities!  Generis realizes it will not change the world, but can make it a better place for a few.  Small institutions develop a personal relationship with the people - and via these small connections they are able to insure that their donations of money and material goods are properly used and dispensed by trustworthy local citizens.  Generis purchases locally in Africa to support the local economy - e.g. school uniforms, or goats, or some sewing machines are purchased to train and educate African women and children - inspiring  hope for the realization of a better and more comfortable life.  Even pencils are known to make a difference!

Attempts by large organizations or NGO's to help are often impeded by hurdles of major proportions.  In a recent NewYorker piece (Jan 4), Larissa MacFarquhar, writing about the Ford Foundation and its current president, Darren Walker, put it this way:

"The urge to change the world is normally thwarted by a near-insurmountable barricade of obstacles: failure of imagination, failure of courage, bad government, bad planning, incompetence, corruption, fecklessness, the laws of nations, the laws of physics, the weight of history, inertia of all sorts, psychological unsuitability on the part of the would-be changer, the resistance of people who would lose from the change, the resistance of people who would benefit from it, lack of practical knowledge, lack of political skill, and lack of money."

So true.

Generis knows this.  But Generis has found the way - small in its operation, but so large in its calculated limited successes.

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