Travel: Ghana "Now That You Know, What Will You Do?"
When we volunteered in Ghana, In Ghana, we heard presentations from a variety of experts on subjects such as child labor, education, and health care. The presentations always ended with questions and answers.
One of our speakers concluded his presentation with a haunting question of his own: “Now that you know, what will you do?”
Since our return, several family members and friends have asked the same question, and some of them have offered to help us, if we find ways to make meaningful contributions, but there are a lot of factors to consider:
We can directly give to individuals or organizations, but direct giving is difficult to monitor. How do we know that the homeless person buys food and clothes, not beer and cigarettes? How do we know that the student enrolls in school, stays enrolled, and studies hard?
Does it help to buy a computer for the school, if the school does not have electricity, and does it help to buy a generator for the school, if the school does not have fuel to run it?
We are looking at indirectly giving to deserving charities that manage and monitor funds. There are online marketplaces, such as GlobalGiving (http://www.globalgiving.org/) and microfinance partnerships, such as Kiva (http://www.kiva.org/) to channel gifts and loans.
We are looking at giving to charities that support individuals and organizations in Africa, but there are a lot of factors to consider when giving to charities, too.
How do we know that charities fund goods and service, not administration or fundraising? How do we know that charities provide goods and services, not advocacy and research? How do we know that faith-based charities provide goods and services, not evangelization?
(Some donors like to support advocacy and research and evangelization, but these are not our priorities.)
There are many online resources that provide useful tools, including the following:
We are finding ways to give more, as well as to give more knowledgeably, so that whatever we give has the most direct impact on the people who need it.