As I sit here eating mango, my good friend, Whitney Flatt, who has helped with my mental health on more than one occasion, and who is, in all likelihood, one of the most giving people you will ever meet, should you be damned lucky enough to actually meet her, is trying to scratch together enough - well, scratch, to finance a trip to Tanzania, where she will speak Swahili, help those in need, and escape elephants. This is what I have pictured, anyway.
How can you contribute money and not read the rest of this entry? Well, you can click your happy ass on over to her project website at 2Seeds, throw in, and move on. But you'd miss your chance to read her answers to your collective theoretical questions about her journey:
Hey, Whitney - where the heck are you going?
I will live in a small village in the Usambara Mountains just outside the city of Korogwe, Tanzania. I will be a part of what is called The Bungu Project, a project that works in most host village and adjacent villages to diversify crop output and improve market access.
Who are you working for? Who's putting this thing together?
Okay, so what are you up to over there?
My official title is “Project Coordinator,” and for the last five years, Project Coordinators from 2Seeds have been partnering with 8 different villages around Korogwe. Our goal is to undertake agricultural and market initiatives that will foster human capital development. All that fancy lingo aside, our goal is to help people live the best lives they can possibly live, ascending from the confines of poverty.
As a Project Coordinator, I will not only plant and harvest crops with these partners, but I will also provide micro-loans for projects as well as help teach basic management skills, helping my partners run their own profit and loss sheets for agricultural/market initiatives. A lot of times in development work, the old adage of “teach a man to fish” versus “giving a man a fish” has been tossed around to describe how development should work. But 2Seeds doesn’t believe that our partners are inept or that they are incapable of knowing how to properly farm their own land. They simply don’t have the capital to invest in their land and/or take risks. So my role isn’t to teach a man how to fish; my role is to be there when he desires to buy the line, the hook, and the bait and to help him consume/market his catch in such a way that helps him move from subsistence farmer to one that makes a profit and removes himself from the cycle of poverty.
So, what; there's no actual fish involved?
Okay, how much dough do you need?
$8,000. This includes everything from my living expenses to agricultural initiatives we’ll undertake in my village. Any amount that anyone can throw into the hat would be great, though - even if I get a whole crowd of people at just a few dollars each, there's some matching funds to be had, so in this case, every little bit does really, truly help.
How long are you going to be gone? 12 months, August 11, 2014 to approximately July 15, 2015.
Do you really have to learn Swahili before you go?
Yes. There’s minimal English spoken in my rural village.
Last but not least, why should anyone give you money?
You get to become a partner in something amazing and help people live up to their fullest economic potential. Plus, people always complain that they never know how their money is being used when they give to charitable organizations. But when you donate to my project, you literally become a partner in my village. I am accountable to each of my partners and will give you updates every 6 months on how your funds are being utilized.
Convinced yet? It's so easy to donate to this project at this link, that you could have done it while you were thinking about doing it. Here again, too - ANY amount. Chuck a buck in the bucket, and if she racks up a bunch of folks, it's a good thing. And you know, if you've got more than a buck, she'd like to see that, too. Ask for more details. Ask for emails in Swahili. Tell your friends, family, foodie acquaintances, and your rich uncle. She's a little less than a quarter of the way to eight grand, and I think we should show her what anonymous strangers who claim to care about other groups of anonymous strangers can do while sitting on their asses at computers.