Finding your Good Cause in Africa

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Do all the good you can, By all the means you can, In all the ways you can, In all the places you can, At all the times you can, To all the people you can, As long as ever you can.’ – John Wesley (Methodist Anglican cleric 1703 – 1791).

Introduction

Last month the title of my column was: ‘What good cause for the African Diaspora’ in which I not only explained what a good cause is, but most importantly stressed that supporting a good cause is part of the essence of your social being. ‘No man is an island’, so to speak. You can still read this column even if you don’t have the hard copy. Just surf at your convenience to: http://mediablackberry.com/what-good-cause-for-the-african-diaspora/

However, conscientiously selecting and supporting a good cause is not always easy. This goes beyond putting your coins in a collection box at your door for e.g. Aids, lung disease or Diabetes research or making an online donation to a nation-wide Dutch organization. In my view it means actively committing yourself to a good cause and following it up through its website, newsletters, blogs and possibly involve yourself as a supporting volunteer of even becoming a board member.

 

Pre-requirements for a good cause

There are some pre-requirements before you start supporting a good cause with your time and money, in particular regarding trust, transparency and sustainability.

You want to be sure that your money is reaching the right beneficiaries, that it is used in a right way and that it has the desired result. This requires a closer look at the organization or individuals that are administrating and governing the good cause.

Most good causes are nowadays implemented and administrated through an NGO, be it a foundation (NL stichting) or an association (NL vereniging). The basic difference between them is that a foundation is governed by a self-appointed board while an association has a board chosen by its members. This limits and determines your influence.

Most NGOs nowadays will have a website on which their aims and projects are clearly described with regular progress reported and annual account of financial records displayed.

If you are not very selective and decide to support a large multi-national NGO operating in several African countries, a quick check on trust, transparency and sustainability and choosing the country and project is enough. This goes for projects carried out by UNICEF, UNAIDS, UNESCO, WHO, WFP, FAO and others in the UN-system. They often also have local support organizations in The Netherlands and other countries, which help to draw attention and rally support.

How to find a good cause

The best and most simple way to find a good cause is to be recommended by an enthusiastic supporter. This person will exactly tell you why his or her NGO has the best and most effective project or program to dedicate your money and other support to. You then only have to ask about the abovementioned trust, transparency and sustainability.

You may also look for the website and country or project specifics from one of the UN-system, NGOs or the major Dutch organizations as Cordaid, Hivos, ICCO Oxfam-Novib, Wilde Ganzen, CARE, Artsen Zonder Grenzen, Edukans, Save the Children or Plan Nederland.

If your Dutch is good enough, you can go to: http://www.goededoelen.nl/sites/default/files/Goede%20Doelen%20Gids%202016.pdf and choose from a wide range of categories like health, development, art and nature implemented in various countries.

You may also use the Worldwide NGO Directory http://www.wango.org/ngodirectory/  which gives basic info from up to 120 countries though giving detailed access to WANGO members only. Then there is the Top 100 NGOs – NGOs Advisor to be reached by https://www.ngoadvisor.net/top100ngos/ The Global Journal began publishing non-profit rankings in 2012 with the Top 100 NGOs, later expanding the scope of the project to a Top 500 NGOs in 2015.

The (Dutch) http://afrika.startpagina.nl allows you to search by region and country, while the NGOs in Africa to be accessed by http://ngos.org/ngos-in-africa/ gives a handful of useful examples of NGOs working in Africa, though from a USA point of view.

A random example of selected NGOs, go through their websites to know more.

The Living Waterlink, Nigeria http://livingwaterlink.nl/en

The Living Water Link is a small non-profit making foundation, Christian based and non-governmental. Our main objective is to give practical help to the poor. The foundation strives to give people, who are at or under the minimum subsistence level, the means to improve their situation by themselves, after an initial period of support. Water is one of the first basic needs. A chance on having earned income and education are essential for both the short term and long term. Our projects are small-scale, en do require a relative small amount of money. The help we offer directly reaches the people who need it the most. We work together with local governments and with local communities, but we do not depend on intermediaries.

 

Ma Flo Aids Orphans Education, Cameroon http://maflokids.com

During a family visit in 2005 to her birth town Bali in Cameroon in West Africa ‘Ma Flo’, Ms. Florence Bergner-Foyab, visited her old primary school. There she was told about children that no longer could go to school, because their parents had passed away. Ma Flo decided to do something and with gifts from friends and relatives in Cameroon and The Netherlands, Ma Flo started in 2005 to pay the school costs for as many of these aids-orphans as she could. In 2007friends created the Ma-Flo Foundation to support her work.

HIV-AIDS has become a frequent feature in Africa, Cameroon and so even in the small town of Bali in the North-West of the country. It kills mostly those between 20 and 45, who often have children and are the economic pillar of the family. Luckily the social fabric is still strong, so when both parents die, children are taken in by relatives, which secures their food and shelter. However there are mostly already too many children, so no money for school for the ‘new’ children. Their education will stop abruptly and they will do household chores and put to work on the land or elsewhere. The Ma-Flo Foundation keeps these orphans in school.

Stichting Tosangana, DRC, is a NGO started by Congolese women in Holland with activities in the fields of education, health, agriculture and women-peace-security. That ‘Tosangana’ means ‘come together’ is clearly demonstrated in their activities and pictures shown on their website: http://www.tosangana.com and carried out in the Democratic Republic of Congo (Congo Kinshasa). Tosangana is not just the Congolese women in Holland, they have many Dutch supporters and volunteers and work together with other NGOs in Holland. In the DRC they work with NGOs and with the communities they work in. Tosangana believes it is more important to stimulate and facilitate local communities to develop.

Stichting SANKOFA, Ghana – http://www.sankofa.nl/

The Sankofa Foundation is an initiative of the Ghanaian community in Holland and started with the working group Akwabaa in The Hague. They are now a very reputable and successful organization with various activities in Ghana and under the name ‘The Hague African Festival’ a well-loved socio-cultural phenomena in Holland.

In Ghana they have carried out support in education and training, set up micro-financing and a poultry project for rural areas. Sankofa also commissioned the film ‘Aburokyere’ about the migration from Ghana to Europe. In Holland Sankofa became active in advocacy to create more understanding about the Ghanaian and African culture. Check their website!

Supporting a good cause through lotteries

You may also support good causes through participation in lotteries. Though some form mainly an easy way of taxation by the Dutch Government, like the Staatsloterij, others like the Postcodeloterij and the Bankgiroloterij support various good causes in The Netherlands and abroad, including Africa.

The good cause is or may be a motivation to take part in these lotteries, though it is often more the expectation of the prize money that sells the lottery.

Conclusion

I guess you understand that looking for a good cause goes beyond the sending money or goods home to family, supporting relatives’ education or building your house in your town or village. No doubt you have and are still doing this, but I know you can and want to do more!

*Ato Bob is a former Dutch Diplomat who now consults with various NGO’s on African issues. He lives in Rotterdam and may be reached on atobobhensen@hotmail.com

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