Aside from the classroom or my involvement with Students for International Development (SID), my first exposure to international development came as a leader of young American volunteer teams in Beira, Mozambique, Africa. I helped lead Care For Life’s groups of college-aged volunteers as they worked in orphanages, helped locals build hut-schools for adult education, and helped build benches for a dirt-floor elementary school. The insights and cautions passed on by Professors Jan Van Orman and Dave Shuler and Ashley Tolman (International Study Programs coordinator) were invaluable to my experience. Their insights helped me maintain respect for the culture and stay focused on the broad social goals of Care For Life.
ALMOST 1.4 BILLION PEOPLE IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES DO NOT HAVE ACCESS TO CLEAN WATER.
SOME 3 BILLION LIVE WITHOUT BASIC SANITATION OR ELECTRICITY.
Last summer, I was offered an internship with Family Gardens, Care For Life’s microcredit agricultural program. This program provides loans for impoverished farmers to help them plant gardens that will supplement their rice production. Many of the participating families had never grown vegetables before, so my goal was to document local gardening techniques that were most effective and create training materials and a program.
Another goal was to analyze the gardening project. I looked for ways to revamp the program in order to increase profits and production for the gardeners. To some extent, I acted as the liaison between the NGO management and the people they were assisting by providing information about potential problems that the NGO could overcome. I also worked with the Beira Rotary Club to set up long-term funding possibilities.
Since returning last fall, I have been heavily involved with a new organization called Massamba. Our goal is to enhance the scale and effectiveness of Family Gardens to provide steady incomes through farming, thus fulfilling a request made by dozens of my Mozambican friends. I helped facilitate a partnership between Massamba and Ascend Alliance and helped develop a pilot project for a micro-consignment/gardening program.
Using Ascend Alliance’s simple water technology, we will provide irrigation water and work to improve drinking water, while also improving income and nutrition. This trial will begin this summer in Mozambique. We plan to reach one hundred families and hope to refine our program to the point that
we can find more partners and expand in the future.
THREE OF EVERY FOUR POOR PEOPLE IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES LIVE IN RURAL AREAS—2.1 BILLION LIVING ON LESS THAN $2 A DAY AND 880 MILLION ON LESS THAN $1 A DAY.
I am returning to Beira in May to bring this project to life. This time, I will stay for a year; next time, I hope to stay longer.
Crowther is an international relations major and is planning to graduate in April 2009.