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Friday, December 14, 2012

Somalia: Fundraising in a Refugee Camp

Again, we are reminded by our friends in Somalia that the poor families we are trying to help are not passive victims, not simply open mouths that we pour aid into.

The strength of these families is critically under-reported. HOPE International Development Agency does not even do an adequate job of conveying their dignity and strength, especially when the need to secure help for them behooves us to present their need as clearly as possible.

But to give to someone and know that they are working alongside your gift, that they are the forces that gives your gift potency. Throwing money at a problem never solved it. Investing money into a solid partner can reap great dividends. This is what we are honestly tying to do: find families that can work with us as partners.

In the wake of one of history’s greatest famines, families in Mogadishu, Somalia, have been taking valiant steps from survival mode to something resembling self-sufficiency. Last year we were giving famine-affected families food aid but with time it made sense to help them drill a borehole for clean water in their camp. The really extraordinary thing is that to make this happen, the families took it upon themselves to raise the money. Their contribution of $4,000 might seem paltry by our standards, but it is a huge sum of money considering the fact that they were utterly destitute, literally owning nothing but the clothes of their backs, when they entered the camp.

The borehole is now being drilled and the community of survivors is pouring themselves into seeing the project through. From fundraising to construction, they are making it happen.

This is just one example of the proactive spirit inhabiting the poor communities we choose to work with. Honestly, this is the rule and not the exception. If you give your money, know that it is going to people who know how to benefit from it, to realize its maximum potential to transform their lives.

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