May 03, 2010 at 10:19 PM
If the book program isn't in response to specific needs, then I'd say don't give. That is also one of the keys to these donations. If items have not specifically be requested by organizations on the ground then it's likely more of a program to meet the needs of the donors.
May 03, 2010 at 04:31 PM
They do give guidelines on their website, but they're pretty general. In the end, I guess it's really up to me because I'm sorting through the books myself. I don't think anyone looks at them between the time I box them up and when they arrive in Malawi. I just keep feeling like it would be so much easier to choose the right books if I could talk to the people who live there. Maybe I'll send the organization an e-mail to see if I can get more specific guidelines or if one of them has been to the area where this library will be established. I'd love to know what types of books seemed to get used the most in the book program you and your friend were involved in, though!
FYI, here's the ALP website: http://www.africanlibraryproject.org/.
Thanks so much for your response.
May 03, 2010 at 04:26 PM
I'm glad to hear that they're not just sending them over with no plan for distribution. There are all sorts of libraries where the books sit unused because there are no teachers in the school with good enough English skills to help the students use the books.
In my experience donated books often go unused for other reasons as well. Both myself and a friend took part in a book program when we were in the Peace Corps. I was in Thailand and she was in Lesotho. Neither of us could use many of the books we received from the program. In general the books were not at the proper reading level for the students and often the content matter was totally foreign them. My friend tells of receiving a shipment of Sweet Valley High books. The life of California valley girls was difficult for her students to relate to.
So it would be wise to look at how the donation is done. Are there very specific guidelines for the books going to very specific people so that you know the books will be used, or is it just a random or not well defined collection. Also can books be purchased locally.
May 03, 2010 at 04:13 PM
Do you mind if I ask what you think about sending books to developing countries to build libraries? I'm doing a book drive for the African Library Project right now and I was planning on doing another one once I get enough books for this first library, but now I'm wondering if what I thought was a really helpful thing might not be helpful at all. It seems like ALP has done their homework, though. They work with the Peace Corps and communities apply to receive library books, so they aren't just sending them over with no plan. This is a really interesting conversation, by the way. I'm so glad I found it.
May 03, 2010 at 03:59 PM
Great post, thank you for all you do!
May 03, 2010 at 01:12 PM
There are a number of conferences for social media experts bringing together professionals from that sector (similar to Jason, who may one day decide to "do something good"); it would be interesting to have a joint presentation from someone like Jason and an aid professional, who might be better able to answer questions on the "right" way to "do good".
Mashable, now probably most infamous among aid experts for initially talking up the 1 Million Shirts project, has a page highlighting upcoming social media events, which can be found here: http://mashable.com/category/events/. While obviously not every conference/summit/workshop in this category would be a good target, it may have a few good starting points.
Amanda Makulec |
May 03, 2010 at 10:55 AM
Even if you can't reach all the Jasons... you're reaching a lot of people. Thanks so much for everything.
May 03, 2010 at 10:37 AM
I hope to learn as much as I possibly can from this entire process. I'd like to share the knowledge I've gained to some "Jasons" and some uninformed "Saundras" of the world as well. You're 100% correct that there are tons of uninformed people and let's hope they are listening right now and learning.
Jason Sadler |
May 02, 2010 at 06:33 PM
Thanks everyone for your comments and support. And for reminding me that I'm not in this alone. I do hope you're right that the tide is turning and that we're not just talking to ourselves.
Morealtitude is right about the need to have all the converted Jasons to take this message to their peers, to amplify the reach.
May 01, 2010 at 07:02 AM
Sandra - just consider the trajectory that this crew of bloggers and advocates has had in bringing this perspective up. It's remarkable. The increase in force and reach of the response of this vs the 50,000 shoes issue, and vs those before it, has astounded me. You're (all) on a huge increase in influence on this subject, which I suspect will only accelerate in the next 1-2 years.
May 01, 2010 at 12:12 AM
Thanks for [yet another] really intelligent & articulate post on something that really matters Saundra.
I think on the one hand you're already doing a tremendous amount to reach as many people as possible with the messages you send- as are Alanna, J. and the rest of the team as well. It's a great effort.
In a way, what we really need are some of those converted Jasons on our side- people who've come from that mindset, seen (and ideally experienced) a different way, who can go back out into that public space, into the realm of new media where they have a reach that we simply can't acheive, and pass that message on to his contemporaries. I know it was touched on during the call last night, but in some ways, what we need from Jason is not just to inform his followers that giving 'stuff' isn't a good solution, but actually for him to go out and reach other entrepreneurs and would-be do-gooders and forward-thinking business-leaders, and make sure he tells them as well. No doubt young, creative visionary marketing types have conferences and workshops just like aid professionals do. Imagine if Jason could speak at a few of these with this message- that before doing good, sit down with those more experienced, and sit down with the communities, and humbly learn. Given that each of these people then have their own influential networks, this could have a really meaningful impact.
Let's hope the message has gotten through in a way that it can be passed on.
April 30, 2010 at 06:28 PM
Saundra, you are doing an amazing job educating normal people about the absolute best ways to help. I can't tell you how many friends have thanked me for pointing them to your posts. They love learning about what works and just want to do the right thing. Don't despair; little by little, the tide is turning.
Laura @ Texas in Africa |
April 30, 2010 at 05:51 PM
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