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Poverty Alleviation Projects

January 31, 2010

Dear Friends:

Welcome to your January 2010 report for The $10 Club.

Burundi is located in central Africa and contains 11 provinces with a rugged, high altitude terrain. Burundi suffered from civil war from 1993 to 2005, with high levels of insecurity resulting in a breakdown of general infrastructure. The civil war has left Burundi under-developed, with more than half of the population living on less than $1 a day.

Burundi ranks in the bottom ten of the UN list of nations according to levels of human development and is ranked at the very bottom of the International Food Policy Institute’s Global Hunger Index. Children under five in the country are particularly susceptible to insufficient dietary intake and, as a result, they suffer from weight loss and reduced growth. This is especially true among the country’s estimated 230,000 orphans.

Burundi’s impoverished citizens lack access to land and basic health and education services. Support for the poorest people is limited; the Government of Burundi is unable to cope with the increasing strain on its already inadequate resources.

Because the Government and relief agencies have limited capacities, Burundi Orphan Relief, in conjunction with the Maranatha Mission Church, are working on the ground to support women and children – especially orphans – in Burundi. Self-sustainability, life-skills, and income generation are all promoted by the organization in the hope of turning the tide for the poorest of the poor.

Now, Burundi Orphan Relief, with whom we have worked in the past on micro-finance projects in the country, is looking to establish a new revenue-generation project in one of the most affected provinces, Bujumbura Rural. The project will work with an association of destitute, often widowed, women in the province, supporting their income generating abilities and increasing their purchasing power. And, as a result, contribute to support for orphans in the town.

Through our grant this month, a cooperative of 50 poor but newly empowered women will implement various income-generating activities and become self-reliant for their basic needs. A portion of the income generated will benefit the local orphan relief effort.

This month, 340 of us donated $3,400 to Burundi Orphan Relief to support their micro-finance project to support women and orphans in Burundi. Our grant will provide enough money to rent a room for six months to enable orphaned children to make clothes for sale, giving them a useful vocational skill in the process, as well as the tools needed to equip the shop; build a small shop to sell basic household needs and train local woman in building a small business; build and equip a small store for selling veterinary and agricultural products and provide necessary small business training for the women working there; and supply seeds and cultivation equipment to allow women to grow food for sale. The crop planting activities will be supervised by an agronomist with the University of Burundi. Thank you.

This month’s project will increase the self-reliance of women in need and generate income for the community. Maranatha Mission Church will give an association of 50 of the poorest women of Tankoni in Bujumbura Rural the land to build their shops. 50% of the income generated by the shop will be distributed among the association’s beneficiaries and 50% of the income will be used to contribute to Burundi Orphans Relief’s support of orphans in Bujumbura.

When successful, the project will result in the participating women being able to satisfy their basic household needs (food, clothes and education for their children). Women will have training that will help them permanently break the cycle of poverty. Burundi Orphan Relief’s project in Bujumbura will receive a monthly contribution. And the clothes making shop will be able to cover the costs of the room rental after 6 months of the project implementation, providing long-term sustainability.

There is a standard line in the relief and humanitarian aid world that if you give a man a fish he eats for a day, but if you teach a man to fish he eats for a lifetime. I’ve always felt that teaching revenue-generation skills is great, but means little to someone who is literally starving to death – or who has no medicines or mosquito nets or access to clean drinking water… sometimes an immediate helping hand is needed.

But when we’re able to find opportunities for micro-finance projects, projects that are designed to bring stability to local communities and empower local people and save lives through the determination and hard work and newly-learned skills of the people who are suffering the most, we should jump on the chance.

It’s one of the many things that sets The $10 Club apart from other relief organizations – the flexibility to respond to conditions and opportunities on the ground and help people directly and tangibly. In the process, we save lives every day without even realizing it. And thanks to this month’s project in Burundi, we should save lives for months, and years, to come.

Saving the world, ten dollars at a time,

PS. At the end of 2007 we built a road in Haiti to connect a small, impoverished village with a hospital in the area. I’m working to identify possible projects in Haiti now, ensuring that our support will get to the people who need it the most.

The $10 Club is a nonprofit corporation registered in the District of Columbia.
Contributions are exempt from federal income tax under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

The $10 Club 2040 Tunlaw Rd., NW Washington, DC 20007 (202) 337-3123 adam@thetendollarclub.org