Through FSD I was able to experience the technological challenges that villagers in Uganda face. FSD did 2 things very well. Firstly, they assigned me to a community that was excited about technology and found me a wonderful host family. Living among the community and working with them to provide useful sustainable businesses could not have happened with my organization alone. Secondly they advised me on how to best approach sustainable development. The keys rules are to ensure that any initiative you and the community spend time building, is one where all the correct incentives line up such that the initiative continues well past your time. This was important advice to ensuring that your time is not wasted on projects that fail. Instead, most FSD projects lead to some tangible benefit for the community because the community is the main driver. The interns learn a great deal and help where they can by offering their knowledge and experience in a very different part of the world. This is a passive but highly effective method of development.
My latest experience with the Foundation for Sustainable Development has been in co-leading a 7 person Giving Circle in Chicago. Our group raised over $4,000 and funded 4 separate sustainable, grassroots projects in Uganda, Kenya, and India. The topics we funded involved organic farming education and methods, a beekeeping enterprise, an enterprise creating food warmers for meals, and an educational skit for domestic violence awareness.
FSD and the Giving Circle specifically gives me an opportunity to stay connected with the international development community even while I am stateside and not in the field. It also gives me an avenue to connect others around me in my community to international development work, in a highly active engagement role beyond simply cutting a check. It allows me to come together with friends and colleagues to really debate the effect of our grants on organizations and communities, and while it is not the only tool for development work, we think deeply through how we can make it an effective one with the help of FSD.
I worked with a microfinance institution in Kakamega, Kenya through FSD for several months back in 2009. It was a tremendously rewarding experiences, both personally and professionally. FSD takes its commitment to grassroots international development very seriously, and makes an effort to train its volunteers on actual frameworks and tools for development work (e.g., Northwestern's ABCD framework). They have dedicated site teams run by true locals of their respective communities, which helps create buy-in and effect real change. Their partnership model ensures that FSD's volunteers are getting plugged into and are supporting existing, sustainable organizations, as opposed to adding to the proliferation of nonprofits in a given region. FSD's post-trip support and network for its alumni is very strong, too, offering numerous opportunities to stay connected to international development work even after returning from the field.
After a career working with companies in developing countries, I sought an opportunity to work with a US based non profit. After thorough investigation I saw that FSD results far exceeded other organizations that focused on service learning. The FSD model allows for funds earned or raised to be utilized and spent by the local organizations being served. The model also places students directly into the local community establishing a relationship that other similar non profits cannot offer. I am very proud to have been a part of FSD growth and the partnerships established with US educational institutions and the hundreds of local communities that FSD serves.
I am extremely honored to be a part of FSD, whose pre-eminence in the field of international development is widely acknowledged, and embrace my new role as FSD’s Board Member. I am grateful to be in a position to tap into a network of private and public sector global relationships and research skills to help propel FSD to the next level.
I have volunteered with the Foundation for Sustainable Development (FSD) for over a decade, helped to start their programs at 3 different sites (2 in Kenya and 1 in Tanzania) and had the opportunity to visit the 2 sites in India. Throughout I have been extremely impressed with the quality of the staff of FSD and the local community based organizations (CBOs) that they partner with. The work they do is extremely important and covers a wide range of key issues including HIV awareness, microfinance, youth development, women's empowerment, and the environment. FSD also runs a small competitive grants program for the local CBOs. As part of this process FSD volunteers work with the local CBOs to write strong proposals that are then reviewed by FSD staff to choose winners. This process helps to build the writing, planning, and organizational skills of these CBOs. Thus, the benefits provided go far beyond the dollars that the winners receive. In sum, I believe FSD is helping to promote the sustainability of local CBOs in developing countries and providing volunteers with a great opportunity to be part of that process.
I joined the board of FSD because I was very impressed with the mission- to promote sustainable development in the third world through a structured and well thought through internship experience. During my fist visit to the FSD programs in Mombasa, Kenya I visited the Mwalungage Elephant Sanctuary. This sanctuary epitomizes what is great about FSD--working with local people in innovative ways to both promote the environment and develop a sustainable lifestyle. This sanctuary was created when a number of wealthy Kenyans joined together with some small farmers. The small farmers benefited because the sanctuary helped to keep the elephants off of their land--in addition, they were given some of the proceeds of the tourist trade generated by the sanctuary. And of course the elephants benefited as well. This is only one small step and Kenya will need far more larger scale enterprises to truly develop economically and become self-sufficient--but by helping to participate in projects like this one FSD volunteers learn about the development process and about how they can help better promote sustainable development in the future.
In a market flooded with low-quality "volunteer vacations," FSD is an outstanding alternative. FSD significantly advances both the community development goals of its partner organizations abroad AND education and training of the next generation of global development workers and leaders. It is a privilege to be a board member and university partner for an organization that makes real strides with American education AND sustainable development in communities around the world, co-creating and disseminating resources that enrich the field beyond just the people and communities they serve. I've personally visited four of the FSD partner communities, seen the interns and staff hard at work, and been witness to the positive changes occurring for all involved. FSD is an organization that continues to learn and deepen its approach, as the field of sustainable development evolves. It's solid now and heading in important and valuable directions.
The support and encouragement that FSD lends to its parter organizations results in real change. All of FSD's actions are focused on providing the most impact on local communities through proven process-driven actions. I have been especially impressed by how FSD works with local organizations, through its site teams and interns, to be creative in coming up with the best solution for their particular issue. I am honored to be part of the Board of FSD and look forward to my continued involvement!
FSD provides a very important role for the NGOs in the countries where they work. FSD provides a link to best practices of other worldwide NGO's and that provides cricical imformation concerning the improvement of the economy and local environment. In Uganda, I visited seveal of the organizations being assited by FSD interns and saw first hand the improvement that the small changes had made in the lives of the local families. From the introduction of new crops for more cash flow and better use of the land. To the construction of a nursery at a high school for teenage mothers, FSD was helping the local NGO's improve the quality of life for the population.
FSD works around the world with local community-based organizations to find solutions to some of the most pressing environmental challenges of our time. In addition to donating financial resources and human resources, FSD has specifically supported projects that include organic agriculture, sustainable water management, reforestation, biodiversity, renewable energy, as well as environmental education and advocacy in the local communities.