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May 28, 2010

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May 28, 2010

I had a very rewarding and valuable experience working with BRAC. I found the professionals working for the organization both in headquarters in Dhaka and around Bangladesh to be hard-working, talented, and committed to improving living conditions in their country. Despite being such a large organization, BRAC still seemed able to connect to its beneficiaries, primarily through its large network of field offices providing education, health, microfinance, and other development assistance to Bangladeshis around the country. I found that the organization met its commitment to supporting the needs of women, the poor, and other marginalized groups in the country through the the focus given to such groups by BRAC staff both in proposals for funding and in practice in offices around the country.

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How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

One time

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2004

May 28, 2010

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May 28, 2010

Greetings. Many folks have asked me about my work and experiences with BRAC. Through the vimeo link below, you can experience first-hand my most recently concluded trip to BRAC/Bangladesh. Founded by Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, BRAC educates 4.1 million children, creates livelihoods for 8.5 million people, has lifted 3 million people out of abject poverty -- with 65,000 employees, 86,000 health care volunteers and 40,000 teachers working in 38,000 primary schools -- BRAC is truly an extraordinary accomplishment for humanity. In addition to its work in Bangladesh, BRAC operates in Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Tanzania, Uganda, Liberia Sierra Leone, and will soon be up and running in Haiti. I am privileged and humbled to call the folks at BRAC colleagues and friends. This was my third trip to South Asia in the last nine months. I am also incredibly grateful to Pam and Pierre Omidyar who enable us to try to do good in this world. Through the vimeo link below (cut and paste into your browser the address below if the link is not working) you can see a 15 minutes highlight video culled from more than 90 minutes of footage. Look for more such links in the future via twitter. (ONSal). Here's the vimeo link: http://vimeo.com/10270727 Enjoy this video of BRAC's truly amazing, humbling and grace-filled work. Enjoy! Cheers, Sal Recall the face of the poorest and the weakest person whom you may have seen, and ask yourself, if the step you contemplate is going to be of any use to her. Will she gain anything by it? Will it restore her to a control over her own life and destiny? In other words, will it lead to Swaraj (self reliance) for the hungry and spiritually starving millions? Then you will find your doubts and your self melt away. - Mahatma Gandhi

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Personally beholding the impact that BRAC's work has had in employing women, empowering women's legal rights, educating young girls, providing access to health care.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Encourage BRAC to continue to think big, be bold and "massify" (that's a BRAC word) -- when BRAC thinks of tackling issues -- they think about the massification of their efforts. Bravo.

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What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

Witnessing the humility of the leadership team -- true, Level 5 Leadership.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

Simply amazing -- one experiences the goodness and the best in humanity when spending time with BRAC staff.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

Empower more women, educate thousands, employ thousands, touch - literally -- millions of more lives...generate hope for all of us.

Ways to make it better...

If I could have spent more time in Bangladesh -- next trip -- I plan to visit Chittagong.

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

The daunting challenge that climate change poses to Bangladesh -- much of the tremendous progress achieved over the past thirty years could be undone by rising tides, saline contamination and fierce weather systems.

One thing I'd also say is that...

BRAC is the most effective NGO ever created. (Southern Hemisphere) Southern-based, Southern founded, Southern led -- a true gift to humanity. Thank you!

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every week

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010

May 28, 2010

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May 28, 2010

During the six months that I worked in BRAC USA, I had the opportunity to travel to Bangladesh to visit BRAC. Although I had been immersed in BRAC material for months, none of what I’d studied compared to what I saw on the ground. BRAC’s efficiency, effectiveness, and scale are more real than I ever imagined it could be. Their approach to development is unique in that they don’t just offer loans, but also provide access to health, education, and legal and social justice. On my return home, I couldn’t stop thinking about the fact that the programs I had seen in one or two villages have been implemented throughout all of Bangladesh, and more recently in Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Uganda, Tanzania, Southern Sudan, Sierra Leone, and Liberia. How is BRAC so effective on such a large scale? I know there are many ways of answering this question because I’ve heard, read, and studied them. But what struck me the most on my visit was the seamless integration of each of the pieces that make up the BRAC development story. Because BRAC has built its programs within tight-knit communities, they’ve empowered women and transformed the fundamental nature of society. Clearly these women have not changed overnight – but the transformation is certainly real. I was shocked by the openness with which women shared their stories with me and each other. At the schools that I visited, energy radiated. The environment was nourishing, safe, and joyful. The children were extremely happy and proud to be learning, and the girls were vibrant and uninhibited, taking on leadership roles without restraint. BRAC has created an effective microfinance program that provides loans to individuals at every level of the credit ladder. Beyond this, I truly believe the village organization (VO), on which the microfinance program is based, is the fundamental driver of BRAC’s holistic approach. The structure of the VO and the concept of building within the community have allowed BRAC to achieve real results in its health, legal justice, and education programs, and has organized people in a way that makes its work scalable.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

its microfinance, education, health, legal and social justice programs in Bangladesh.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

continue to increase efforts to spread the word about BRAC and the incredible work it is doing to empower women and girls in Asia and Africa.

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What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

it's unique approach to development, focused on empowering women and girls, working from the ground up and on South-South cooperation.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

of the highest quality. People truly passionate about BRAC's mission and equally competent.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

change the lives of millions of destitute people in Africa.

Ways to make it better...

I could have stayed on board longer.

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

Raising enough funds to make a significant impact in Africa.

One thing I'd also say is that...

BRAC is an organized, efficient, effective, but also a flexible organization that accommodates to the changing needs and circumstances of each situation.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every six months

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010

May 28, 2010

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May 28, 2010

I’m a US businessman who contributes time, money, and effort to BRAC because I believe it is the most effective Non-Government Organization operating in the developing world. In the past three years I have been a BRAC volunteer in Uganda, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh. BRAC builds business from the ground up, hiring mostly local women. For many of these women, a position with BRAC is the best, if not only, salaried job they have ever had. What I like most about BRAC is standardization. BRAC doesn’t accept local limitations or excuses for inactivity. Their poverty reduction programs in micro-finance, health, agriculture, and education have been honed in Bangladesh for decades. When BRAC enters a new country it applies proven templates with little variation. Inexperienced women are hired, trained to execute the BRAC program, carefully supervised, and held accountable for results. The outcomes are truly astounding and encouraging, particularly given the poor track record of other NGO’s and government programs in the developing world. BRAC entered Afghanistan shortly after the fall of the Taliban in 2002 and now operates in virtually every province. With programs in Health, Education, Micro-finance, National Solidarity, and Training, BRAC is currently the pre-eminent NGO in Afghanistan. BRAC came to Sri Lanka to provide emergency aid and economic relief to the victims of the Boxing Day Tsunami of December 2004. Today BRAC is one of the leading micro-finance lenders to women in the country, operating with a local staff of 100% female managers. In Uganda, the results have been remarkable. When the first BRAC employee arrived from Bangladesh in 2006 there were over 100 Micro-Finance Institutions active in the country. Today, BRAC is among the top five MFI’s in Uganda, employing thousands of local women as credit officers, branch managers, and regional managers making un-collateralized micro-loans to poor women. BRAC Uganda has reinvested proceeds from micro-lending to expand into health, education, agriculture, and female adolescent programs. After setting up shop in Uganda, BRAC expanded across Africa to Southern Sudan, Tanzania, Liberia, Ivory Coast, and possibly other countries. BRAC moves so fast, it’s hard for me to keep up. Although I volunteer for BRAC because I believe they leverage my effort more effectively than any other NGO, the real reason I keep coming back is the women I meet as a BRAC volunteer. Honest, hard working women like Regina in Uganda (http://drewkinder.blogspot.com/2008/01/regina.html), Shaimais in Afghanistan (http://drewkinderasia.wordpress.com/2010/02/13/shaimais-in-afghanistan), and Champika in Sri Lanka (http://drewkinderasia.wordpress.com/2010/02/13/its-all-about-progress) prove to me that there is hope for poverty alleviation in the most difficult locations. It all begins with BRAC and the noble women they empower to make a real difference.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Bangladesh, Uganda, Afghanistan, and Sri Lanka

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How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About once a year

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010

May 27, 2010

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May 27, 2010

"There were times when I didn’t even have enough rice to cook one full meal a day. Now that I am a part of BRAC, I can cook three meals or more a day for me and my nine children. That is why I am happy now.” - Robia Khatun “Wherever I go now, people pay attention to me and take what I have to say seriously.” -Anita Rani Dash “BRAC people came to us and everyone in our village to see what we’d lost and what we needed. They gave us rice and other food. If they hadn’t, we might have died from hunger.” - Fatema, Cyclone Sidr survivor “I did not have a job before joining BRAC. Now I am a Health Worker with BRAC in Sahiwal. I joined BRAC to give service to humanity.” – Nasreen

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

“I have a better life now. I have a successful business, my family eats well, and everyone is healthy. My children are happier than before.” - Rahim Musa Ho Halmakta

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How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every week

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010

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