Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Do Something Awesome Today

I've talked about various projects on here, but this one is near and dear to my heart.

I spent most of last summer in Ecuador, setting up a business that would take college students interested in social change overseas. There they would work with social entrepreneurs, see that they too could make a difference, and come back to the States pumped up and ready to change the world.

While the business never got off the ground, the time spent there bore some fruit. In the course of out travels my partner and I met Juan Andrade, a Catholic priest who runs a foundation called Mano Amiga (Helping Hand).

What he does is nothing short of amazing. In Ecuador, if a child loses the family support network there are few other places to turn. Many live on the street begging or selling trinkets. In the worst cases they turn to prostiution, gangs, or violence just to survive. This begets more violence, crime, and poverty and so the cycle continues.

Mano Amiga intervenes and provides them with shelter, food, an education and love. The fundamental social change is this: rather than a detriment, these children will become contributors to their society as business owners, vetrenarians, teachers, etc. (Those are just a few of the things the children told me they wanted to be.)

While Mano Amiga does amazing work, it is limited financially. The government of Ecuador provides $1 per day per child to care for the children. With food, hygene, clothes, and school fees this is woefully short.

One of the biggest expenses is food. Rice and beans are the staple. Vegetables and fruit are uncommon. Meat is rare. A nutritionist recently diagnosed over half the children as mal-nourished.

Fortunately there is a solution! Some nearby farmland was donated to the foundation, and my ex-business partner has partnered with a Rotoact group from Colorado to provide the foundation with the equipment, livestock, and seed necessary to make the farm produce enough food to nourish the children properly.

The benefits of this are threefold:
1.) The kids will be nourished properly
2.) Mano Amiga will spend less on food, enabling it to reach more children.
3.) The farm may eventually generate income for the foundation, again enabling it to reach more chilren.

So if you like feeding hungry kids while eliminating poverty, take a look at the project site. They are over halfway to their fundraising goal. I'd encourage everyone who reads it to donate something, even $10 means a lot.

If you still have doubts take a look at the kids. They were so friendly, open, caring, and above all happy, despite their backgrounds, and the poverty they lived in even at the foundation.

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