Archive for June, 2010

Children

June 28, 2010

Becoming a parent is a life-changing event. Suddenly, one’s focus shifts from meeting one’s own needs to being the source of meeting someone else’s needs. I’ve been blessed in that this has not been extremely difficult for us in terms of meeting the physical needs of growing children. However, having this experience has made me far more aware of how difficult it must be for the many parents around the world who have little to give to their children. So many families struggle with crushing poverty, and sometimes there are addictions, missing partners, and other challenges with which they have to cope. When my children have needed help, I have been so grateful to those who were there to provide it. This is one of the primary reasons that I got involved with LifeNets in the first place: as a parent who loves her children, I feel the need to help children whose families need extra support. As trite as the expression may be, our children are our future…but to get them where they need to be, we need to give them present support.

–Katherine

Education

June 21, 2010

Education has been mentioned several times over the last months in this space, and that is no accident. The idea of educating people–young and old–is a recurrent theme in the work of LifeNets. While there are programs (such as the Wheelchair Project) that focus primarily on ameliorating physical needs in an immediate way, many LifeNets projects have a component of education. This is, of course, wholly compatible with the idea of helping people by giving them support to become self-sufficient. Whether it is teaching English to students in Ukraine, supporting the work of a clinic dedicated to the rehabilitation of disabled children near Chernobyl, helping start small businesses in Malawi, or funding scholarships for students in South America, LifeNets keeps this goal clearly in sight. Helping in the short-term can provide some benefit, but giving someone the tools to help themselves over time will have a much bigger legacy.

The Mission of LifeNets

June 16, 2010

LifeNets’ mission statement reads:

LifeNets is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization that develops programs offering practical assistance that promote the well being and self sufficiency of disadvantaged people throughout the world and, where possible, encourages them to pass on their LifeNets benefit to others.

As our world grows more complex, it becomes easier to see that people need more than money. While there is often an immediate need for monetary or physical assistance, most often money is not going to change anything long-term. The key is offer assistance that will change lives for the better, encouraging people by teaching them skills that they can use to help themselves and others. This builds self-reliance, motivation, and relationships.

Granted, there are times when money is the only way to help, such as in the case of natural disasters or other immediate problems. But one of the reasons that I am excited about LifeNets is that I can be a part of something that has the opportunity to change lives and communities by offering a combination of aid and education, with the idea that the organizations and individuals helped will not always have to depend on LifeNets–or any charitable organization–for help.

Katherine

June 8, 2010

Wheelchairs might seem like a common item for the handicapped to obtain, but in some areas that just isn’t true. Some cannot afford a chair, others have chairs that do not suit their needs or that are in terrible condition.

LifeNets has made it a point to connect those with wheelchairs they no longer need, with those who are in need. The Wheelchair Program is a wonderful way to reach out and give someone a freedom they would not be able to have any other way. These connections put people from different areas of the United States together. Those who have wheelchairs make them available and those who need one can locate them by merely navigating the online listing.

If you know of someone who has such a need or of someone who has a wheelchair they no longer need, LifeNets Wheelchair program could be the answer.

-Lorelei

Africa, Start Up!

June 1, 2010

“Give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.”

Africa Start Up is a program supported by University of Malawi and Seattle University that is teaching Africans how to “fish” in the business world. LifeNets supplies grants to students from Seattle University to go to Africa to work with local business owners.

The opportunities for small business in Africa are almost limitless. Africa has so few of the things that we in the West take for granted, that anyone with a little initiative and money for start-up costs can get a business off the ground. Keeping a business running, though, is a different problem.

Africa Start Up is helping small business owners get their businesses running and teaching them how to keep them going. The lessons can be as simple as asking customers to pay for needed parts before repairs are made, or as easy as a teacher using the desire of children for popsicles to her benefit.

With the unemployment rate at around 85% in Malawi, whatever the people can do to help support themselves is a benefit to the people and the country of Malawi.

Here’s a video by Christina Davis about the success of Africa Start Up so far.

What a great resource for people who want to help themselves learn to “fish” in the place they call home.

-Susan