Sunday, December 14, 2008

Charity brings good ideals to poor places

The Independent newspaper has a profile on a charity it is helping to support this Christmas season. The charity called Voluntary Service Overseas puts professionals in the fields of medicine, science and engineering in the underdeveloped world.

This story, as a part of the The Independent Appeal series, shows how VSO helped a changed the life of a poor family with a business idea.

A community of a few hundred fishermen and small farmers in a humid equatorial forest of tall palms and cassava fields, it is a three-mile walk from the nearest sea breeze and an equal distance to the closest place to charge a mobile phone. Altogether an unlikely setting for entrepreneurship. But for Sada and her group of two dozen women in Kisasasaka that is exactly what it is.

Fed up with a life of just getting by – which has been getting harder with each price rise in food, medicine and transport – she jumped at the chance to start a business. With the latest of her five children, Aziza, attached to a breast, Sada, 35, is talking about "understanding markets" and her plans to branch out from crab-farming into chicken-rearing.

All that had been needed was a brainwave. It was supplied by a British ecologist. He was volunteering for Voluntary Service Overseas a few hundred miles away in the mainland coastal city of Tanga when he saw fishermen fattening crabs for resale at premium prices. That activity, he thought, could be transferred to the subsistence communities living in Zanzibar's mangrove swamps, and make them some useful money.

It is just the kind of brainwave that is the speciality of the British charity VSO, one of the three charities being supported by The Independent's Christmas Appeal this year. VSO takes smart, skilled people and puts them in places where good ideas can change lives.

Sada and her Kisasasaka women's group buy or trap immature crabs and fatten them in homemade pens. They feed them the fish guts which is the waste product of their husbands' businesses. Young crabs cost as little as 20p and after six weeks, when they weigh up to two kilos, can be sold to the island's top hotels for more than £2.

That kind of profit has allowed important changes in Sada's life. "If my baby gets sick I don't have to wait for my husband to get back from the sea to take her to the clinic," she says. "I can get transport and buy medicine myself." In addition, it buys clothes, pens, school books and "self-respect".


Israel Charity said...

Whether it's a Christmas gift for your husband, wife, child or friend, the act of giving is a show of love and appreciation. It also satisfies a basic need in all of us to please another. All too often, though, we forget about the larger purpose of giving, the purpose giving Christmas gifts to charity can fulfill.

Of course the act of giving a gift to a loved one or someone close to you has an immediate positive impact in seeing the joy on their face as they receive the gift and then them lighting up when they see how much you thought and cared to pick that particular gift for them.

charity said...

It is good to know that you have the strength to stand on your feet and call for your own financial independence.