“Give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime.”
Seeds of Help Foundation focuses on construction projects to improve the daily lives of the individuals, families, and communities. Projects are assessed in the following manner:
- First, we examine several methods to solve problems.
- Next, we build a variety of trial models. These models are evaluated depending on the ease of construction, cost, durability, and functionality.
- Then, we determine which designs to implement on a broader scale. Community-wide projects are then built as funds become available for individual communities.
When undertaking construction projects, we get people involved in every aspect. We expect them to provide certain materials, labor, and support, which teaches them the value of supplies and allows them to contribute. For certain projects, these communities must gather a small sum of money to contribute to our funds. While it’s easier for the community to simply turn the money over and have the materials delivered later, we have group representatives accompany with our people to purchase the materials. In doing so, they learn how to look for bargains, arrange delivery and distribution, and where to buy the necessary materials. After gathering the materials, they participate in the construction process to gain knowledge to expand the project on their own. They pass this information on to neighbors, family and, most importantly, the children.
We have seen a number of our projects replicated by other villages and individuals on their own. Our participants aid others by educating them on the importance of the project, in purchasing materials, and in construction and maintenance. We have also had many other organizations that see the success of our projects and ask for our help for projects in their own areas and groups.
Peace Corps – Seeds of Help Foundation works with a number of Peace Corps Volunteers on a full-time basis. In addition our Appropriate Technology programs have been so successful that Peace Corps now sends trainees and current volunteers to work with our groups on construction projects for several weeks. They participate in our construction programs and interact with the communities.
Note: A particular challenge is avoiding paternalism. Paternalism is the act of giving a gift or donation directly to the person or persons being helped. We avoid paternalism because of the numerous negative long-term consequences: It results in the people further expecting handouts, thus, discourages them to work to improve their own lives. It creates a culture of beggars, who become reliant on handouts. In several situations, we have encountered groups where our help was no longer welcomed. Unfortunately, some groups simply form to “get the stuff” and then lose interest when they have gotten all they can out of an organization.