April 2, 2008
I first learned about World Neighbors 11 years ago, when I met its CEO and board chair at a conference in Washington DC. I was amazed to learn that it was then 46 years old because it was clearly doing important and effective international development work but I had never heard of it before.
Since that time, I have joined the board of trustees and, in addition to my board work, have traveled to Ecuador, Guatemala and Karnataka, India to visit World Neighbors programs. During those visits, I have met many program participants, shared meals with them and learned first-hand from them how World Neighbors programs have changed their lives in very positive and lasting ways.
World Neighbors works only in rural areas of developing countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America. Often, it works with communities and villages so remote that no other development organizations are willing or able to work there. World Neighbors makes long term commitments to the communities it engages with and typically remains in an area for 8-10 years. By making long term commitments and carefully planning both its entry into new communities and its exit strategies, World Neighbors ensures that the progress made while it is engaged with communities will be sustainable for decades after it has moved on to new communities and other regions. There are villages in rural India where World Neighbors first worked in the late 1950s that are still thriving in ways that neighboring communities have never done, because those communities participated in World Neighbors programs decades ago. It is hard to find other development programs that have achieved such long lasting success, no matter where you look around the world.
World Neighbors always focuses its work on those areas of need that its program participants think are most important to them. It never enters a new region with pre-conceived ideas about what the people there need. However, some problems are universal in the developing world and often include issues of food security and sustainable agriculture, environmental conservation, access to clean water and family and reproductive health. Many communities are also interested in working with World Neighbors to establish micro credit associations, leadership development programs and gender equity programs.
Together, these types of programs, which World Neighbors implements through partnerships with local non-governmental organizations staffed by local people, are able to significantly improve the lives of those who participate in them. Some of the tangible outcomes include greatly increased food security through sustainable agriculture, enhanced methods of environmental conservation, adequate shelter for the entire family, access to health care and and clearn water, smaller, better spaced and planned families, and more opportunities for education and income generating activities, especially for girls and women. All of these add up to increased self sufficiency, greater confidence among participants in their own ability to provide for their families, greater self respect, and above all, hope for a better future for themselves and their families.
I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...
every World Neighbors program I have visited around the world. It is clear that the people who have participated in World Neighbors programs are proud of their accomplishments, of the many ways they have been able to improve their family's lives, and they are optimistic about their futures, often for the first time in their lives.
What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...
knowing that the money I have contributed and the time I've spent working on behalf of World Neighbors has had a very tangible impact on the lives of the people who participate in its programs around the world. I know that every dollar I give to World Neighbors is used with care and designed to provide maximum benefit to those who participate on World Neighbors programs.
The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...
All of the volunteers and staff of World Neighbors I have met are deeply committed to the organization's mission and confident that the work they do everyday is changing the lives of hundreds of thousands of people around the world in postive ways.
If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...
greatly increase the depth and breadth of its programs to reach even more of those in need around the world. World Neighbors' approach to sustainable development work has already proven itself, but the number of people it reaches could be greatly increased with additional resources.
When was your last experience with this nonprofit?
Board Member & I have served on the World Neighbors board of trustees for 9 years.