The D.I.Y. Foreign-Aid Revolution
A man goes out on the beach and sees that it is covered with starfish that have washed up in the tide. A little boy is walking along, picking them up and throwing them back into the water.
"What are you doing son?" the man asks. "You see how many starfish there are? You'll never make a difference."
The boy paused thoughtfully, and picked up another starfish and threw it into the ocean.
"It sure made a difference to that one" he said.
This parable from Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn's book, Half the Sky, illustrates how we can individually make a difference by effecting just one degree of change. Even the smallest measure can produce dramatic results and we can indeed be the change we wish to see in the world. This is no better demonstrated than by the portraits of women entrepreneurs in Kristof's NY Times article The D.I.Y. Foreign-Aid Revolution. These women have been finding creative ways to help the world’s most vulnerable people, many of them also women.
Read about Elizabeth Scharpf, who upon learning that menstruation prevented women from attending work or school, designed a company that would manufacture inexpensive sanitary pads for Africa and Asia, to be distributed by women themselves on a franchise system. Or Maggie Doyne, who at 23, has built an orphanage in rural Nepal and is now focusing on education with an opening enrollment of 220 students.
As World Pulse Board Chair and global activist Kathy LeMay so eloquently states in her book The Generosity Plan, one does not need to be Bill Gates to be a philanthropist. "Philanthropy belongs to all of us because the world needs all of us to participate."
Whether it be through our time, talent, treasure and taking a stand, we can all make a difference. Join me in cultivating an ideology of altruism and spreading this culture of social engagement — it may only be an incremental improvement (with screams of vexation along the way, says Kristof — something I can attest to) but it is progress and therein lies the power of one.