Monday, February 15, 2010

What can YOU do?

Dear Friends,

Remember two years ago? John and I came back from Africa and asked if anybody knew an expert in Israeli water technology that we could talk to about partnering with the Millennium Villages Project. Not only did several people have good contacts, Rabbi Silverstein was able to put us in touch with Alon Tal, who put us in touch with MASHAV, who created a month-long course at Hebrew University for the agricultural and water coordinators of the Project. Amazing.

This time we have lots of projects we'd like you to think about. I'm hoping that you will see a need that speaks to you, and suggests a way for you to connect people you know to villagers in Africa. Because by connecting them, you make all our lives better.

Certainly, financial support is important. But this letter is about something different. I'm asking you to look into your Rolodex, and use every skill and gift at your disposal to think about connecting the villages with partners who can help them. Some villages need products, some need knowhow, some need markets. The people and organizations who will want to partner with them will already be ethically motivated; i.e., they already believe that supporting small farmers in developing countries is part of their mission. They could be in the US, Europe, Asia - anywhere! I give several very specific needs below, but this is by no means an exhaustive list. If you brainstorm a bit, I'm sure you'll come up with other ideas. Please feel free to email or call if you want to talk through any of them.

There are many good causes, and a global issue like extreme poverty can seem overwhelming. But no one has to save the world alone. You don't have to do it all. You can do the research to find out the decision maker in a company and we can make the phone call.

Together we are enormously powerful. I'm a big believer that there are really very few degrees of separation. With all of you putting your minds to it - as much as you feel comfortable doing - I know we can change the world.


Judy and John

Can you connect the Millennium Villages Project with . . .

. . . to help move these projects forward?

§ Food manufacturers and retailers (Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, Starbucks, etc.)

§ Fruit juice and tea companies

§ Cosmetic companies (L’Oreal, etc.)

§ Health and beauty aid companies

§ Hibiscus. Some of the villages are getting good crops (often organic) of a variety of hibiscus whose flower is used in teas and fruit juices.

§ Dried mangoes and dried pineapples. There are so many mangos - fantastic ones - that just rot on the ground for lack of markets to sell them to. Uganda has an equally impressive crop of pineapples.

§ Shea. Used in cosmetics and soaps.

§ Market bags. Women in the villages could sew bags which would then be sold in supermarkets.

Seed companies to partner or provide product

Seeds and/or capability for seed production and dissemination. Production and dissemination of high quality seed is a major limiting factor in farmers’ being able to improve their yields. Particularly useful would be fruit and horticulture seed that is well suited to these climates.

Film maker

Documentary about Dov Pasternak. His work is so amazing that the rest of the world should know about it!

People or organizations with expertise in manufacturing inexpensive solar cookers, and providing micro loans for their purchase

Solar cookers provide environmentally clean cooking and reduce deforestation.

Companies or grantor organizations interested in supporting technical/vocational education

Vocational training (examples: making clay pots, solar cookers, etc.; fence repair; irrigation pump maintenance; nurseries for seed production and propagation of trees and plants; tailoring). Build training centers, supply equipment (sewing machines, power tools, etc.), teachers and curriculum.

Companies or grantor organizations interested in funding children’s education and nutrition

§ Fortified milk. Local dairying could be expanded to supply milk to schoolchildren.

§ Dov Pasternak's Farmers of the Future. $10,000 would fund one site at the village of Sadore.

Educational institutions with business programs (Northeastern work study, MBA programs, other)

Source for design assistance (FIT, RISDE, etc.)

§ Interns to work on developing business plans for local African opportunities

§ Design market bags for sale in supermarkets. Bags should be unique, attractive and cleverly designed so they will sell well in supermarkets.

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