We live in an age of giving. When media outlets showcase devastating tragedies that take the lives of innocent people our immediate response is to help our fellow brothers and sisters around the globe. We donate, volunteer and even pray to bring hope and create new opportunity for those who lack the resources which we have in abundance.
However, as quick as we are to open our arms and help, we grow weary and criticize when we hear the next story about corruption and wasted resources in organizations who are claiming to do the best to cure a problem. There must be a way to measure integrity!
So I went into the Burmese jungle to find it.
Burma is a country that has only recently recessed a violent 60 years of civil unrest between regimes that could not agree on a method of national governance. The Civil Wars have left most people unreachable by organizations ready to help.
The Barefoot College is an organization which brings technology into the hands of the most remote, non-electrified villages in the world. They where the first to break the barriers of entry into what are known as “Red Zones” in Myanmar, areas which are still considered by governments as too dangerous to visit.
The M&E department at Barefoot was created to ensure work was, indeed, providing the beneficiary with a better standard of life. It is not to say that they can now guarantee 100% of projects will be a success. What it is saying is that they don’t take for granted the complexities of helping in the sustainable development of a rural community.
Like any community in the West, we can expect any village to have many unique cultural facets that an outsider can not effectively relate to. This is why Barefoot puts all the power (literally and figuratively) in the hands of the community’s own people, so that with their ancient knowledge and unconditional commitment to their families they choose for themselves how to use this new technology.
If you think that this way of addressing “Aid” is important, see how you can help.