How do you connect with people who are in genuine need?

20141127-GWT-8216-JOHNNY-FENN-1024x682(Photograph by Johnny Fenn http://johnnyfenn.co.uk)
This is a very valid question I was asked recently by someone considering their own project. I would say that this decision has been and still is the hardest part of the project.
When I started The Country That Shook I naively thought that this task would be incredibly straightforward because there are so many deserving and needy people in Nepal. Following this intention, I have been in talks directly with a few people in Nepal, who organise community based support and rebuilding projects, for many months. Unfortunately I have continually come up against the problem that they are unable to offer me proof of where the money will be spent. This is not surprising as it is not their culture to have contracts and documentation for everything like we do in the West, plus of course a country recovering from an earthquake is not a normal situation.
However, we have now raised over £7,000, and I have a responsibility to know where the money that so many people have kindly spent to support The Country That Shook is going. I don’t feel like I can hand money over without this knowledge or alternatively being in the country to oversee it, which is not a viable option for me.
Unfortunately this has lead to a couple of difficult situations where opportunities to support communities have not developed as I had hoped, and a lack of information and trust has meant that I had to back away. This has been distressing at times because I do truly believe that their intentions were good, it just felt like too much of a risk.
 6ef775c3-a4db-44df-bd3e-e80962f50f65-2060x1236
Therefore, I am going to go down a completely different route and donate the money through a charity. This is something that I was completely against when I started out as I thought that too much of the money donated would be lost in admin fees and then even more would be siphoned off by the Nepali government.
However, after contacting endless charities my opinion has been changed; it is true that only around 85% of the donation is spent on the school rebuild (or alternative project), but that other 15% is what provides all that is needed to coordinate something like this, the connection with the local people, the knowledge of where help is really needed and the ability to be in constant contact with the build as it progresses in a very remote area. These are all things that I don’t have and would be unable to do from the UK with a full time job.
All of the charities I’ve been talking to have been recommended to me by various reputable people in Nepal and the UK. The conversations have been invaluable in my steep learning curve about how charities function and what the best fit for us will be.
I will be updating you shortly on how and where the money will be spent and who I am partnering with…12493617_10156453753870526_4635670540354304582_o
Advertisements

Final Kickstarter rewards have been sent!

Screen Shot 2015-08-04 at 13.32.43
I am now back in the UK , after a thirteen month trip in Asia which included the earthquake!

Therefore I have been able to prepare the very last rewards for the Kickstarter campaign.

11794166_10156443908700526_7931166458889440446_o

The original illustrations, which I sent home from South Korea, have been presented with the story about how that particular drawing was created, where I was and any other interesting facts. There are photos too, which give a real sense of the situation.

12710926_964037490353874_7067451320706320906_o

They are by no means perfect, drawn on second hand paper on trains and in hotel rooms, but they are unique and they tell a story all of their own.

I am so excited to have fulfilled the last promises to some very generous people. I am so grateful for all the support the kickstarter campaign received.

I have more available if you are interested!