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Village Improvement Project Incorporated

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Community Stories

4 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Because it is dedicated to bettering the lives of Liberian villagers and protecting the environment.

Review from #MyGivingStory

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Gift of Light

Flip of the switch… in the morning, night and at any time without a thought, the simple “necessity” of light is always at my fingertips. Yet many families, especially children, don’t have light in their homes to study or even eat a meal. Instead, they burn dangerous candles or oil to provide the most minimal light. When I became aware of families suffering from dangerous air quality inside their homes from make-shift light, I was inspired to think deeply about my commitment to children’s health and our ‘global family.’ I decided to be part of the Village Improvement Project (VIP) which provides education and service to small villages in Liberia with a focus on giving solar lanterns to families in need.

VIP gave me a unique opportunity to utilize my strengths and ideas to directly impact the lives of dozens of families. I wanted to help end children’s exposure to harmful smoke, possible burns and fires from the candles as well as enable adults to better spend their hard–earned money rather than buy very expensive candles and batteries for flashlights. Although I am across the globe in the US, I was empowered to use my voice and creativity via VIP’s social media campaign to raise donations to buy solar lanterns. We ran a campaign for a month and each and every day, I was so excited to see us getting closer to our goal – to provide solar lanterns to 160 families. The true reward of inspiration was when I was sent photos and video of the families receiving the solar lanterns. In as little as a month, I helped give the gift of light but really I received the true gift of a global family.

Please visit Village Improvement Project at www.vipinc.org and be inspired!

Review from #MyGivingStory

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

A Rocket What??

You may never have heard of a rocket stove. I certainly hadn’t. I’m not a backpacker or survivalist. It wasn’t part of our home emergency kit. Then, about a year ago, one of our former students from long-ago Peace Corps Liberia days asked us to help support a rocket stove initiative to offer villagers a cleaner, safer cooking alternative that will help reduce pollution and save forests from being cut down for charcoal. I said, “I’m there!”

Village Improvement Project, http://www.vipinc.org/, which was already providing free solar lanterns to schoolchildren in small Liberian villages, was now launching an initiative using the social enterprise model to produce rocket stoves in Liberia and sell them at as low a cost as possible. The rocket stove's simple design means that it is so efficient that only a small amount of fuel such as twigs and discarded wood chips is needed to cook a meal.

In Liberia, many women sell bowls of rice and greens by the side of the road to support themselves and their families. These women could save the cost of the rocket stove many times over since they would no longer be dependent on costly charcoal or kerosene. This would mean more money going directly to a better life for their children.

These women work very hard to just scrape by. If by giving seed money to get the rocket stove initiative up and going, I can offer them a chance to have a better life and help save the Liberian forests as well, then, “I’m there!”

Review from #MyGivingStory

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I grew up during a period of rapid urbanization of India, in a suburb of Mumbai (Bombay). The staggering growth story of India was shared by four other nations that led to the acronym BRICs, coined by Goldman Sachs Group Inc. economist Jim O’Neill in 2001 . However, I not only experienced the economic progress of a developing country but also witnessed the staggering development of the wealth gap in India.

Earlier this year, I was afforded the opportunity to philosophize on philanthropy with Dr. LeRoy Boikai. I realized that together, we strongly believed in investing in the foundational pillars of human progress – health and education. Through my conversation with Dr. Boikai, I realized the stark need to help the Liberian people. Liberia has suffered from two Civil Wars from 1989 to 2003 that have emaciated the country economically. Along with that, low literacy rates and poor General Health have created the perfect storm for stagnation that has blanketed the country, and especially the poor.

According to World Bank data, approximately half of Liberia’s population lives in rural areas – that equates to ~2.2 million people. We serve to be the catalyst for unlocking the potential these people so that day by day we can progress towards a brighter future. And we do this by focusing on three core programs: solar lanterns, road & street signs and clean cook stoves. Through these programs, we aim to improve health (by eliminating house air pollution) and education (more conducive environment to studying and longer study times) outcomes for the villages and villagers we serve. Additionally, we hope to build awareness around the villages through road signs so that they may be integrated into the fabric of the country.

I’m grateful at the opportunity to personally preserve this higher calling. And I’m fortunate to be able to contribute back to the eventual redistribution of wealth through healthier and more educated low-income communities within Liberia.

Review from #MyGivingStory