Helping People Help Themselves
March 23, 2019
This is a story about how we enhance the sustainability of the organizations we serve.

He needed $20,000

CCDO is a fine organization. We’ve worked with them successfully on several of their other projects.
But this time, our initial response was “No, not yet.”

Keeping in mind our long-held value of “helping people help themselves”, my first question was “Why aren’t these villagers feeding their own kids?” The reply was “Because they are poor and cannot afford to feed them every morning.” Hmmmmm. So we talked more.

Bill: “Do they love their kids?”

Director: “Of course they do”.

Bill: “I thought so. Would you like to explore a new idea?”

Director: “Sure, what have you got in mind?”

Bill: What if we asked the villagers to donate some food to this breakfast program? And, what if we were able to assign a dollar value to the food they donate? And, what if our SE Asia Foundation were to match that donated value 2:1 so that for every dollar’s worth of food the villagers contributed, we’d match it with $2.00 in cash they could use in the market?

Director: “Interesting idea. Let me explore it”.

The Director then held a series of meetings with the local villagers. They asked a lot of questions until they understood and became comfortable with the notion of helping themselves. Eventually they agreed to support the idea.

Then some amazing things began to happen. Food started showing up! Lots and lots of rice. Big loads of vegetables. A few chickens. Some eggs. The women organized their committee to keep records of the donations and manage all of that newfound inventory. We, of course, quickly made our donation to support their good work.

A large (and very productive) vegetable garden was planted on the school grounds
The program continued to grow. The rice storage building filled up with more and more donated rice. In fact, the committee has not had to purchase rice for many months now

Today, more than 900 kids at these two schools continue to get a healthy breakfast including vegetables, rice or noodles, and protein every day.

The parents are organized and manage their own breakfast program. It’s exciting to see the villagers taking pride in what they have accomplished by working together to take care of their kids.

Thanks to the leadership of the CCDO Director and the involvement of all those hard-working and supportive parents, this breakfast program is definitely more sustainable now. Most important of all, the kids can begin their studies with a full stomach and get the life-changing education that will help lift them out of a life of poverty.