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Go, Luke!

Luke Richards (in Moldova)

"The best way to help people is to enable them to earn their own living"

"I want to help people. But the best help for them is to show them the way they can earn their piece of bread alone", says Luke Richards, a young American. He founded the organization "Project Go" leading humanitarian projects in Eastern Europe, South Africa, South America and South-West Asia. Having passion for television, he saves the time to film the "Bad tourist" TV show.

An article by Marina LIŢA

"I was born in North Carolina, but now I live in Los Angeles. I love this town, since one doesn’t swim through the high buildings that make you feel like you live in a box. It's a big city, but most inhabitants live in the suburbs being able to enjoy the beauty of the world around them", says Luke. "Maybe that's the reason I fell in love with Chisinau since the first moment I arrived here", says the young man.

"The grandparents’ stories"

According to him, Chisinau city reminds him the stories told by his grandparents. "They used to show me the pictures made over 40 or 50 years ago. So, when I come here, I feel that I'm back in time; a time when life was easier and people were not in a rush. Moldovans’ simplicity appeals to me", states the young man.

While he studied religion, his greatest passions were television and film. "Therefore I decided to do research in the field and what I like the most - TV shows. Here in Moldova we shot for the "Bad tourist" show, in which I will talk about the nightlife of Chisinau and the way young people spend their time here", communicates Luke.

"Project Go"

Still, the biggest amount of the time in Luke’s life is being dedicated to the charity projects. "Now, many years ago, we have started, along with my best friend the project named "Project Go". It is a humanitarian organization. I think the best way to help people is to enable them to be helpful to themselves. Why give money when you can offer them a service?
'"In rural areas you hardly find a job. I spoke with mayor of Vatici village, Orhei region, and he suggested the idea to collect the milk from the villagers and sell it to a larger enterprise. A year ago I started a project for construction of the center for milk collection, benefiting from a little help of the government, the mayor and other partners. Now the center is almost ready to start its work", says Luke proudly.

"It's a way of helping people to make money. Some would be able to gather money and buy a cow and with that earn their living. In this way we can help them stay in the village ", suggests the young man. "We are trying to help people in need, regardless of age. In November 2011, I met an old woman who lives alone and has no relatives that would take care of her. Because the small pension wouldn’t allow her to buy wood to keep warm in the winter, we brought her a cart of wood and we also chucked them. Along with "Smile of a Child" (local non profit organization) we have visited Transnistria - an unforgettable day for children of an orphanage in Transnistria", says Luke.
"Project Go" carried out several activities. Thus, the inhabitants of a village in Ukraine have been provided dental care. But the most painful event which has stuck in Luke’s mind is that of a family living near Chernobyl. "The roof was taken off by wind, and the family members suffered from the explosion that took place many years ago", recalls the young man.

"A better chance"

"The Republic of Moldova is a place where you can develop. It is a favorable to business environment. There's a lot to be done. I see an enormous potential in this piece of land and its’ beautiful people with a great spirit who deserve a better chance. Maybe I'm wrong, but I think in ten years this country will change much and will change for the better", says Luke.

He spends his time between the United States of America and other countries where he is carrying out projects. "I have a brother who is military. We see each other quite often when I am at home. My parents are quite reserved and often tell me I should not go anywhere because there are enough poor people in the States. Now they have given up trying to convince me, and I avoid telling them about what I do and what I like", he says with a little sadness.

Meanwhile, working on television allows him to interact with more people, and send some messages to the viewers. "One must be able to send the people on the other side of the screen what he sees. And the most important message I try to share with those who watch me is that there are people who need our help. And as long as we are able to hear them, we who can do it, we can relieve the pain and the need of those around us", concludes Luke.

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Comments

Hi Luke,

You are right. Give a person a fish and he eats for a day. Teach a person to fish and he eats forever. I work with street orphans in Livingstone Zambia and that is the problem. Street orphans and vulnerable children are given to over and ver again. It is the expectation that they can't give because they have nothing to give. No one in the community gives to each other. Unbelievable. It's a balance really. We feed, pay school fees, books, solar lamps, tutors, alarm clocks and take them to the hotel every afternoon to shower, use toilets properly, look people in the eye like they're somebody and carry on a conversation, sit at a table and eat properly, they make the lunch sandwiches and clean up, study and watch an inspiring movie each night before the driver picks them up at 8pm to go back to their hut, have discussions and debates to get the right brain activated.

BUT...they are required to give back in order to be supported by my small NGO "I AM ONE IN A MILLION". Last year they tutored young kids.

This year we hit upon a GREAT give back. I buy roof seal and membrane and had ladders made. The older ones go down through the compounds of the poorest of the poor. They get on our hand made ladders and seal the holes and where the roofs are coming apart. The rainy season the people are up all night bucketing water out of the hut. We have done abut 400 huts and the end of August-Sept we plan to cover 5oo more then in November 500 more and on and on.

The thing has turned into an unbelievable ongoing experience. The people come out of the huts, fall to their knees to these street orphans thanking them for stopping their suffering. The kids feel important, are respected and are learning little management skills. We have a "management" meeting each night. Haha.

You can check us out at iamoneinamillion.ch.

Love your work, Luke. You are inspiring.

Ubuntu (I am who I am because of who we are together)

Wendy Stebbins

Wendy Stebbins
Founder/CEO
I AM ONE IN A MILLION Non-Profit Organization focused on helping street orphans and vulnerable children in Livingstone, Zambia Africa.

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