January 2, 2012
We’d like to make our trip through Africa meaningful. And while each of us has set goals for self-improvement on the trip, we additionally share a desire to make a difference in the communities we’ll be visiting, in whatever small way that might be. To this end, we have partnered with All for Africa, a New York-based charity which focuses on poverty reduction, illness prevention and education throughout Africa. Among the many things which appealed to us about All for Africa were the inventiveness of its funding models and the diversity of the local charities it supports.
Unfortunately, Africa is a place which is often portrayed in the U.S. as a continent of missed opportunities—stories of schools that were established, but no longer teach anyone, roads that were constructed, but never maintained and repaired, and technical equipment that was donated, but sits unused. More often than not these failings are not a matter of a lack of local commitment to development, but rather a result of continued funding for these projects being either insufficient or lost altogether. Many local charities simply don’t have the structure and expertise to manage ongoing funding sources, which are often unpredictable.
We view All for Africa’s Palm Out Poverty program, which uses donations to purchase oil palm seedlings, which in turn are placed into trusts that provide sustained long-term funding for its beneficiaries, as a creative way to confront this funding gap. (The connection to palm oil also worked well with our plans to power our vehicle with vegetable oil, which we discuss in our veggie oil page.) Similarly, All for Africa’s Million Watts program, which provides photovoltaic solar panels, allows its beneficiaries to use more of the funding from the oil palm trusts for development, by reducing their energy costs through the use of a renewable energy source.
Additionally, since All for Africa’s beneficiaries work in several areas, including primary education and adult literacy programs in Sierra Leone (Shine on Sierra Leone) and water sanitation in Liberia (Face Africa) by partnering with All for Africa we will be able to support multiple local charities, each of which is working to address the needs of people throughout Africa. And, since Justin and Lee are hoping to continue on down the west coast of Africa to Cape Town, if possible, they will be able to visit several of its beneficiaries along the way, both to volunteer and to provide an update on each beneficiary. Meanwhile, back in New York after competing in the Budapest to Bamako Rally, Nate will further the on the ground efforts by continuing to work with Diane MacDonald, All for Africa’s Director of Operations.
We urge you to learn more about All for Africa’s efforts and its beneficiaries work and lend your support donating either individual oil palm trees to the Palm Out Poverty program, or watts of solar power to the Million Watts program.