Posted by: Nathaniel | July 3, 2008

Kristoff column on micro-giving

CX

CX Chua, one of the students from the Northwestern University ENGAGE Uganda Program 2007, celebrates with his Global Youth Partnership for Africa soccer/peer mentor team after finishing a 5-week after school program in the Namuwongo slum of Kampala, Uganda.

Nick Kristoff’s column today, “The Luckiest Girl,” tells the story of Beatrice, a bright girl from Uganda who, through her own smarts and the right type of support, was able to achieve greater and greater educational goals, finally graduating from Connecticut College in the US.

The column seems to me to be aimed at the cynics who use the problems of a challenged system of international aid as an excuse to disengage. His point, I think, is that even though we recognize that corruption and governance can cripple aid effectiveness; even though we understand that development goals can reinforce global power dynamics; and even though we know that even the best aid programs are not silver bullets, small investments in people’s capacity to achieve more can have tremendous ripple effects.

One of the most exciting possibilities the internet has opened for social change is the ability for everyday average people to support  each other’s capacities in small ways. Kiva.org, GlobalGiving.com, Change.org, the list is long. There is even a new aggregator being built at SocialActions.com to allow you to search across platforms for actions that most resonate with your passions and skills.

These types of 1-to-1 connections will not change policies or structures on their own, but I think Kristoff’s point – on that I agree with – is that they don’t have too. They’re an immensely important part of the big picture – and with new tools to collaborate and coordinate, potentially more transformational than ever before.

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