Listen. Empower. Provide the capital necessary to grow. These are critical keys to executing a sustainable development strategy. A philanthropic cause will only be as strong as its lasting effects, as strong as it’s ability to empower the people whom it is serving. It must put people in a position to continue to grow after the NGO has left.
To make this holistic change requires a multifaceted approach, one in which the community guides the service. The solutions must benefit the recipients, so the recipients need to be making the solutions. In doing so, the new practices will address the most pressing needs in ways geared towards long-term sustainability.
Greenheart Travel’s Maasai Community Development Project does exactly that. The organization works directly with the local Maasai people of Kenya, encouraging their volunteers to “learn about the fascinating Maasai way of life.” This respect for the people whom they are serving carries into their work. Volunteers’ constant interaction with locals leads to the innovative way in which they collectively address their challenges.
The project focuses on many avenues for empowering the Maasai people, including education. Volunteers construct and paint schools and work to acquire student supplies. Granting local youth education allows them to work at better jobs, improve their community, and understand their history. The benefits leave a lasting mark on the individual, the economy, and the other Maasai people.
Many of the local entrepreneurs–particularly women– do not have the resources to grow their business. Greenheart Travel helps women’s groups find new markets for their crafts. They also lead workshops on economic sustainability and entrepreneurship opportunities. This empowerment grows local business, which carries sustainable benefits for the individual, their family, and their community.
Volunteers work with Maasai people to improve agricultural practices. Volunteers run training workshops on new farming techniques and help the locals build irrigation systems. These practices and tools stay with the Maasai people, leading to economic and environmental sustainability. This improves the locals’ self-sufficiency.
The project works with the Maasai tribe to implement many other community-guided sustainable solutions. At UniversalGiving, we value organizations with this type of commitment to values-based service and sustainable development. You can learn more about the Maasai Community Development Project here.