In downtown Nairobi I waited for Eunice Ndeche, the founder of Best Buddies Kenya (BBK www.globalgiving.org/1741) to show me to his offices. The 4-lane highway was clogged with Matatus and buses. I noticed a few horse carts dodging traffic in the nearest lane, opposite the Kenyan Central Bank. Only there weren’t any horses or donkeys, just burly men dragging supplies on their carts. I reached for a camera to save this strange juxtaposition of modern and archaic. One of them smiled at me as he gave the yolk of his cart a yank. He smiled at me.
“Hey wazzap!” he said.
BBK’s offices were on the 6th floor of a 20-floor high rise. As we boarded the elevator, I thought, this doesn’t feel like a typical globalgiving project! I thought our projects are village-based grassroots operations.
When I saw BBK’s office I understood. Capitol Area Soccer League (http://www.globalgiving.com/1885) and Best Buddies Kenya (www.globalgiving.com/1741) share one five-foot square cubicle subletted from another company. CASL has a staff of 18 with 2 full time employees. They all cram in here when they need to. This is what “cost-effective change” looks like; two NGOs crammed into one cubicle because there isn’t enough donor money to support the Geneva convention’s minimum human space requirements.
Each of these organizations operate on less than $5000 a year and they need your help. They don’t have money for big ad campaigns or media consultants. The staff is a handful of 20-something youths trying to curb the spread of AIDS. Imagine what you could do for them if you just re-tweeted their needs or used GlobalGiving’s new “tell a friend” tool to help them as a “virtual volunteer.”
We’re on a listening tour of Kenya because there is so much more we can learn from our client organizations in person. The organizations I’ve seen are not always as I expected, but I have been impressed with what they’ve done with our donors’ support.
CASL is planning a soccer tournament in two weeks (www.globalgiving.org/1885). They wanted to host 16 teams but currently only have funding for half that. They’ve successfully courted Cola Cola and SarafiCom (mobile phones) in the past but the economic downturn has put a damper on youth sports AIDS prevention.
They expect to host 60 players. All will be tested for HIV and will partake in AIDS awareness education. I got them signed up on twitter and you should be able to follow the tournament live on March 28th, 2009 (@endeche or @globalgiving on twitter). In addition they have a youth network of teacher trainers who go to schools and combine sports education with AIDS prevention messages. The two full time staff look to be in their twenties. These truly are youth teaching youth.
Michael Kremer wrote that for what it costs to treat one AIDS patient for one year, you could prevent new infections worth 25 to 110 years of life. If just one of their four projects was fully funded, over 1800 years of combined AIDS-free living would result (using Michael Kremer’s upper estimate and the AIDS treatment cost per person).
Nancy Waweru manages a similar project to empower girls and educate them about AIDS (www.globalgiving.org/2221). Her workshops emphasize “reproductive health,” meaning they discuss healthy relationships, sex, abortion, menstruation, STDs, and fighting stimga.
“What is one organization you really admire for the work they do?” I asked Nancy.
She immediately replied “Step by step!”
“They are new but have already done much. They hosted a very effective workshop on reproductive health at Kaimbo. They also got CocaCola to sponsor it. And they work with ‘deviant girls.’ They are not so easy to work with.”
Great Nancy! Thanks to you and Eunice for meeting with me. It was an honor. And know that if our projects recommend another organization, you can bet we’ll invite them to join GlobalGiving in the future. This is how we uncover great new organizations. Whether big or small, new or old, any legitimate, recommended, social media-savvy organization has the same opportunity to attract funding on our site.
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