4 the World blog

Empowering collaborative communities

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Pumpkin: the one solution to many problems

Pumpkin flavored dog treat? Really? Ok, I would probably buy those.

Who would have thought an ugly orange squash would have the following of suburban moms in the Millennia that Tom Selleck’s mustache had in the 80’s.  Pumpkins are all the rage: Starbucks lattes, M&Ms, Pringles, vodka, cheesecakes, Edy’s ice cream, Hershey’s kisses, marshmallows, Pumpkin Ale, ravioli, donuts, bagels, Country Crock butter, Jello pudding . . . I’m full.  Though it is hard to improve on donuts and vodka, that homely fruit did it.

The thing is, this orange globoid can be grown in Central America and India, two places where 4 the World does a lot of work.  And the seeds inside the pumpkin can produce next year’s harvest.  Growing food makes people self-sustainable.  They can feed their family and sell excess for profit to buy medicine, education, and local products.  Buying these items then in turn supports the local economy.  According to Practical Action, “Pumpkins are a perfect crop because they are extremely nutritious, last for up to a year and fetch good money at market” (http://practicalaction.org/turning-compost-into-food).

While Pumpkins are the Princess Crop of America, Quinoa could be the Queen Crop but it’s not because all though it is in growing demand with U.S. soccer moms for it’s high nutritional value, it is not a high yield crop.  Learn more http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/07/11/quinoa-should-be-taking-over-the-world-this-is-why-it-isnt/


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Help us Solve the Most Pressing Health and Education Needs


We recently partnered with Check-in for Good, a social media app that lets you raise money for your favorite charities by simply “checking-in” when you go to your favorite places.  Just follow these easy steps.

1. Download the Check-in for good app.

2. Ask your favorite retailers to sign-up at checkinforgood.com . It’s free and always will be.

3. Check-in each time you go and instantly raise support for those in need!

“Wherever you go, there we are – enabling you to support great causes simply by checking in at your favorite places: coffee shops, restaurants, sporting events and more.”  (Check-in for Good webpage)

You can view our campaign page here http://checkinforgood.com/campaigns/4-the-world-empowering-collaborative-communities

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8-8-88 A Day that Changed History

Protests in Burma 1988

Photo from the New York Times 1988.


On August 8, 1988 (8-8-88) the people of Myanmar (Burma) took to the streets to demand democracy. The protest was met with military force and fatal endings.

This amazing story about bravery, freedom, and victory at last is told on the NPR website. Click the following link to hear more.

As Myanmar Opens Up A Look Back on a 1988 Uprising


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Identify, Assess, Collaborate

school in boxI recently returned from a trip to Central America with 4 the World. We were doing needs assessments, an important part of the organization’s mission. Their model has three parts 1) identify communities in need, 2) assess needs, and 3) collaborate with the communities to solve the problems.

It makes sense. Of course you would go and see what is needed before you started fundraising or designing programs. But it doesn’t always happen in other organizations and it’s harder than it seems.

In order to really hear the community, I had to first think about my assumptions. What did I expect to hear? What did I assume the needs would be? Researchers call this bracketing out own’s subjectivity in order to allow the truth to be uncovered. Besides stripping down my own subjectivity, I had to intentionally think about the subjectivity of others that I had picked up along the way. I have done extensive research on education development, so I also had to strip away the past experiences of the authors I read.

This all took a lot of time, but was so important to be able to be as objective as possible and really open myself up to hearing what the community wanted help with. And you know what? Even though the communities I visited were just kilometers apart, they had different needs. One school needed a breakfast program because the kids came to school hungry. This made sense to me because pupil feeding programs are a standard education development solution. But, the school down the road is almost all farming families, and they said hunger was not a problem for their school. If I would have done a one-size-fits all program based on my research and my own assumptions, I would have wasted resources on food for a community that had different needs.

Listening is the first step in helping other people, be it through international nongovernment organizations or our own family.

One Girl, One School, One Village

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4 the World helps girls attend high school through a scholarship program and collaboration with their communities.

View the video on our facebook page https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10152147913275591&set=vb.171295149625306&type=3&theater

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4 the World Wins NC Peace Prize

NC Peace PrizeNC Peace Corps awarded the 2013 NC Peace Prize to 4 the World, an organization committed to improving education and health in communities worldwide. The award was announced January 14.  Founder and Executive Director Robert Froom stated, “I felt extremely honored when I found out that 4 The World won the North Carolina Peace Prize.  Also I felt very proud of the hard work of all of our volunteers both past and present.” 4 the World is completely staffed by volunteers and is based in Garner, NC.

4 the World will celebrate the prize by continuing their work. “We need to keep focused on refurbishing schools in developing countries, sending girls to high school with our scholarship program and helping children and single parent families right here in North Carolina where many people are struggling. With our new NCSU Chapter at NC State University we will work hard with some of the brightest student minds in North Carolina. I have faith we will help many people,” Froom exclaimed.

The NC Peace Corp has awarded the Peace Prize since 1996 to NC grassroots organizations that are “helping others to help themselves”. 4 the World’s mission of empowerment through collaboration aligns with the Peace Corp’s mission.  Froom said, “I have always deeply admired the Mission of The Peace Corps and the adventurous and compassionate spirit of the Peace Corps volunteers in serving the less fortunate around the world.”

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Our hot chocolate prevents AIDS

Winterfest Buku 4 the WorldBuku restaurant and 4 the World partnered on December 1, 2012 World AIDS Day at Raleigh Winterfest to bring HIV awareness to the local community as well as the international community.  Winterfest patrons indulged in a cup of rich Belgium hot chocolate or steaming Mexican pozole knowing that $1 of every purchase would help HIV prevention in Central America.

Buku’s generosity supports 4 the World’s AIDS campaign in Belize and Guatemala.  Researchers have made a lot of progress in the treatment of this disease and HIV is not the killer it once was.  Treatment, however, is expensive costing $3,000 a month and is often inaccessible to marginalized populations.  4 the World believes that empowering young people through education is the first step in creating an AIDS free generation.  Prevention, rather than treatment, is always our hope.  Executive Director, Robert Froom stated, “This awareness campaign will be different because it will really inform people about AIDS/HIV facts, especially needed in the small villages without power.”

The theme for World AIDS Day 2012 is “I am my brother’s/sister’s keeper.”  Buku and 4 the World’s partnership embodied this spirit of togetherness in the fight against AIDS.

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Footballs and Bibles

children in Ghana with SheaWhen I was in Ghana, a little boy about 8 years old approached me and said, “Obruni (meaning white person but not in a disrespectful way), we need Bibles and footballs.”  His appeal was so confidently spoken and so utterly adorable, I had to oblige.  I bought the children 2 rubber balls from the street-side vendor, which popped in a matter of seconds on the rocky field.  After my next trip into the city Accra, I brought 2 quality soccer balls and hard cover Bibles.

If you had to narrow down your entire household to 2 items that would be your family’s only possessions, what would they be?  I think a soccer ball and a Bible nail it on the head for my family!  For me personally, a Bible and my tennis shoes would be all I really needed.

If you are traveling overseas, there are plenty of great gift ideas that fit in your suitcase to take with you.  Or, send these items to me and our team will take them to Belize this August.

  • Shoes
  • Textbooks
  • Children’s books and magazines
  • Nonfiction books
  • Caps and visors
  • Solar lanterns
  • Solar flashlights
  • Crayons
  • Pencils
  • Notebooks
  • Frisbees
  • Jump ropes
  • Mosquito nets
  • Plastic Tumblers
  • Eating utensils
and of course
  • Balls
  • Bibles

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Poor, Who Says?

children laughing in Belize

Children in Belize playing a game with 4 the World volunteers.

Wealth, worth, riches.  What do these words really mean?  Would you rather be without monetary wealth or without physical health?  Would you rather have joy or cash?  I’d rather be hungry but happy than rich in resources but poor in spirit.

My goal for economic development is not to help people make money.  Sound weird?  I don’t care how much money a person has, I care how much hope they have.  The point of economic development for me is to provide real opportunities that give people a chance to follow their dreams.  Living with hope makes living worthwhile.  When I look at Gallup’s results of the happiness survey, the top 15 countries are not the 15 most financially well-off.  We know money doesn’t buy happiness, so why push money?  My goal is to eliminate poverty, but I define poverty not as the absence of money but as the absence of  hope.

So what does money buy?  Money does buy education, health care, and security, all of which contribute to happiness in the present and hope for the future.  I’m not saying money isn’t important, I’m just saying money isn’t the goal.  When I look at the orphans at Love Children’s Home, they have no material possessions, but because they reside in a place of faith, hope, and love, they have more joy than many of the American children I have taught that live in a culture of resentment, entitlement, and discontentment.

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Use your Brain: Buy Used

computer center in BelizeWhen I taught in the innercity I was surprised that the kids did not understand why I used scrap paper.  I’d give them the back of a piece of paper to make a note and the kid would get out a new piece of paper and offer to buy me a notebook instead.  It seemed that anything used was considered for poor people, but the irony is that people who reuse and buy used are resourceful, and resourcefulness is a key to acquiring wealth. Penny pinchers often have more pennies then spendthrifts.

I scour yard sales, take hand-me-downs, and look for furniture on Craigslist.  It’s not because I can’t afford new.  It’s because I believe that wasting money is bad but worse is a walnut dresser with mirror sitting in a landfill while I buy a walnut dresser with mirror downtown.  You’ve heard the campaign:  Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.  Even if you can afford new, why not reduce waste?  That’s what we believe at 4 the World.  We are taking donated items to Belize this summer, not because we believe that the people do not deserve new items, but because we believe all people, rich and poor, should be resourceful and not wasteful.  Reusing items is not only a financially sound decision; it is an environmentally sound one too.