The largest problems in the world do not have simple solutions. However, we live in a world of instant gratification and synecdoches, whereas we process the majority of our information in summaries and tag lines. This is often especially true with philanthropy: We want simple, direct altruism, where we can throw money at a problem and know how it's being used in 10 words or less. This is where the great American conundrum of altruism is found: How can we make any significant progress very complex international problems when we require simple and direct solutions to feel morally gratified? Too often I feel that non-profits must distill their approach to a crisis in order to attract donors, and as a result the solutions become minute and vapid. Enter Arts Education International, the very definition of macro-solution. Food packages and clean water solve much of the basic needs in terms of pure survivalism. But how does one approach the larger, more abstract crises of the world,such the trauma of civil war and the preservation of the arts? Arts Education International provides emotional rehabilitation and comfort to children who have little other comfort or joy in their lives. By hiring indigenous artists for their programs, AEI helps to facilitate the arts, provide creative output for traumatized children, teach them to sustain themselves by producing and selling crafts, facilitating arts education, and providing jobs for artists, dancers, and musicians. Sarah Geller has assembled and trained some of the most talented dancers, musicians, and artists I've ever seen associated with an education-based non-profit organization. If you have not seen their videos I highly recommend them to get a true impression of what they are doing right now.
When I donate to non-profits, I oftentimes find myself worrying if my donation could have helped those in need more if I gave it to a different organization. I have never had that worry about AEI. Sarah Geller and her group really organize exceptional programs that emotionally rehabilitate those who need it most. This is more than evident in her work with the Vision Stars, a group of former child soldiers in Sierra Leone who record dance and hip hop music with the support of Arts Education International. It oftentimes makes me wonder why there aren't any other organizations focused on emotional rehabilitation through the arts. It is my intention to continue donating to Arts Education International and continue to check their website for updates.
As a long-time supporter of AEI, I have been incredibly impressed with the dedication of the staff in the U.S. (who work on an all-volunteer basis) and how communicative they are with AEI donors. Each campaign they run is followed up with extensive reports, updates, and blog-postings from the programs they support. When I donate, I always feel confident that my donation is being used on the ground in Africa in the most effective way possible.
This is a great organization, not only does it help children who have so little, 100% of what is donated goes to the children. It is nice to see a charity use no money for adminstrative cost and to use all that is collected to help the children.
I am generally more interested in our planet and animal neighbors, but I've always thought that charities that actually change children's lives for the better were the only charities worth donating to. I support the causes of entities like Greenpeace and the Sierra Club, but the whole idea should be to have more and more kids growing up educated, open-minded, in tune with their surroundings, able to express themselves, and able to critically think. Doing so will lead to more and more responsible, intelligent adults that will make the world a better place for people, animals, and the Earth alike. AEI is a no-brainer.
I have helped in a fund raising venture w/ AEI. The program presented a video of what AEI does and how they help these children expand the music and art of their culture. These children don't have much but yet they appreciate so much.
I gave a donation. This organization brings joyful experiences to many children who would otherwise live a very weary life.
Great organization, doing impressive work. this is a great concept--more charity organizations need to adopt this model. The people running these programs are obviously very dedicated and know how to run an international charity.
I have been following and contributing to this charity since its inception. It is doing amazing work. Fully 100% of contributions goes to the program--I know, I checked. By employing local artists to teach the kids, they are helping both the children and the community in which they are being raised. They provide long-term programs at each of their sites--not like a lot of charitable programs that do "one-off" events, take a lot of pictures for their brochures and disappear. This one deserves our ongoing support!
AEI is a young organization with a unique perspective. The organization uses the arts to promote emotional healing, but also as a vehicle for concrete economic opportunity for severely disadvantaged youth in war ravaged countries. It is deeply committed to working with and in local communities and building programs that will eventually be sustainable without AEI's continuing presence.