Saturday 2 August 2014

Why we ship donations from here: What we buy there

We chose to support Kahama because poverty is wide-spread and acute and there is little outside help. There is no tourist trade.  Apart from the occasional European gold miners who drop in to the banks or bars we are usually the only mzungus (white people) that the townspeople see. Out in the villages - we are the only ones! By bolstering the twin pillars of health and education our goal is to ensure a stronger local economy, a healthier population and a generation with hope in their lives.

Sending Donated Items. We have shipped 4 forty-foot sea containers to East Africa. The first went to Muhanga, Rwanda and the others to our sponsor community in Kahama, Tanzania. We did our homework before we began to collect donations; we visited the community and asked questions; we read widely and learned about the mistakes and successes of other attempts to help in African countries. In the end basic math made the decision for us. By raising $20,000 to purchase and ship a container we can provide $200,000 - $300,000 of project aid. (Project aid is a partnership whereby the villagers participate in the process with the ultimate goal of self-sustainability.) 

This is by no means an easy route. We are a small volunteer Board & Committee that dedicates hundreds of man-hours to collecting and sorting donations and then countless hours fundraising to ship them!  We are so thankful to the volunteers who stand beside us in a parking lot to sort and pack in the heights of summer and depths of a Canadian winter. And of course we would have nothing to send if it weren't for the generosity of our own community and organizations across BC.

A box of pencil crayons costs around US$8.00 a soccer ball around US$50 in Tanzania – imagine the cost of purchasing just one hospital bed there and having it delivered hundreds of miles to middle-of-nowhere Kahama! Our priority has been to ship medical and educational resources to strengthen the community and provide a solid foundation on which it can build. Using that $20,000 to purchase resources in Tanzania would have had very little impact compared to:

Medical. The Kahama  District Hospital (the only hospital for a population of one million people) receives wards-full of hospital beds, mattresses and linens, operating tables, OR drapes, gowns, gloves and booties, examination tables, birth kits, microscopes, blood pressure cuffs and much more.

Technology. As in the West, health workers in African countries depend on communication tools like cell phones or the Internet to refer patients to specialist facilities, to place orders for drugs and equipment, and to share medical knowledge.  We deliver donated computers and equipment to the hospital and the primary Teacher Resource Centre.

Education. The Teacher Resource Centres and schools receive thousands of text and library books (for the township and 240 villages) and invaluable teacher and classroom resources. 

Empowering Women. We deliver sewing machines and supplies to set up sewing co-operatives and provide income-making skills. Where we differ from many organizations is that we take self-funded trips to Kahama to distribute the items and monitor progress. We can see first-hand whether the resources are making a positive difference, we can see what works and what doesn’t and change our operations accordingly. Another major advantage is that for the rest of the year we have daily contact with Emmanuel, our Agent in Kahama. As well as shipping we have set up a number of programs in Kahama and have built an orphanage. At this point we intend to ship one final container to Kahama in 2016.  

Clothing. Indiscriminately sending clothing to impoverished areas can cause problems as the garments often end up flooding the black-market and depriving local garment-makers and sellers of their income. We do not ship a lot of clothing but when we do we have a major advantage over many organizations as we regularly visit the region and can see the results of our donations and make changes if they are causing problems. The families and orphanages that receive the donated clothing and shoes would not be buying clothes from the local markets, they would simply go without. 

Buying locally. When we can, we do purchase resources and supplies in Kahama. Our strategy of strengthening the whole community through sending medical, educational and entrepreneurial resources will translate into locals buying local, a win-win situation! At present most families are not in the position to help the economy – they live day to day surviving on the ‘crops’ they can grow in the patches of earth outside their huts. The ripple-effect purchases we do make in the Kahama region include:

Bicycles Purchasing locally helps the economy end ensures access to the correct parts and tools.
Bikes for the HIV/AIDS Association: This will enable workers to reach more people in their outlying communities and provide them with support and palliative care.
Bikes for families: Recipients spend less time walking (to fetch water or take a sick relative to a clinic for example) and can dedicate time to growing food and caring for their families. Students can get back from school in time to read in the daylight!
Bikes for small business opportunities: delivering water or fertilizer for example.

Desks, tables, chairs, bookshelves.  We commission local carpenters to build the desks, seats and shelving that we have donated to the Amani Children’s Care and Treatment Clinic (HIV/AIDS) the principal Teacher Resource Centre and the newly built Muvuma Orphanage (updated Dec. '14) We have also delivered hand tools, electrical tools and a generator to a wood-working group in the remote village, Llomelo. 

Livestock. Meat Goats can be bred and used as a source of food and income.Milk goats provide health benefits to families. A healthy dairy goat can yield up to 200 litres of milk a year, plus the family can use and sell the goat manure.
Poultry provides maximum production for minimum costs compared to most livestock. The chickens will address basic nutritional needs as well as generate income for the women in poultry cooperatives - meat, eggs and manure.

Clothing and food. On our visits we do also buy clothing for children from the local market stalls. When we are not in Kahama, Emmanuel makes local food and clothing purchases on our behalf. 

For more information, to volunteer or to make a donation contact me , mail to The One Person Project, 10108 Julia Street, Summerland, B.C. V0H 1Z5  donate on-line or make a payment into our account at the Summerland Credit Union (Summerland, British Columbia).  

               Strengthen one person - strengthen the family - strengthen the community.

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