Visibly Good


The Butterfly Effect is easy to understand – one small change can result in a huge change down the line. A ball rolling down a hill hits a tiny pebble which changes the ball’s trajectory so much it ends up miles and miles away from where it was originally headed. This effect is neither good nor bad in itself, it is simply a fact of nature.

But it is a fact.

Use it to make small differences that can change the world for the better.

Many of you will have seen the Kony 2012 campaign already – if not, watch the trailer and – when you have a half an hour to spare – watch the movie itself.

It’s time the good in people became visible…

http://www.invisiblechildren.com.s3-website-us-east-1.amazonaws.com/

Can You See Now?


A mother and daughter travelled the world to film stories of ordinary people making a difference.  This is their story –

http://openingoureyes.net/our-subjects/

Thanks to Katherine at Bowl of Miso – http://bowlofmiso.com/2012/02/18/opening-our-eyes/ – for pointing me in the direction of this very interesting video.

Previously on – As Seen on TV…


I came across this video on entertainment-education and thought you might also like to have a look –

Positive Deviance


The classic model of the diffusion of social change is one where the change comes from outside. Experts try to persuade people to adopt new ways and often look for charismatic locals to lead the change.

A newer model, Positive Deviance, tries to approach the idea of change from a different angle.

In the struggle to achieve participation and not simply persuasion, it has been found that local wisdom will usually be better than outside expertise.  This model also proposes that if people can be brought along as participants, even the most intractable problems can be solved.

In 1990, Jerry and Monique Sternin arrived in Hanoi to open a branch of the U.S. NGO, Save the Children.  At that time two-thirds of Vietnamese children under five were suffering from malnutrition. The Sternins hoped to find ways to help with this as supplemental feeding had already failed.

They initially travelled to the Quong Xuong District. There they weighed 2,000 children under the age of three and discovered that 64% of them were malnourished.  The Sternins weren’t the first people to discover this but they were the first to ask a very important question.

Were any of the well-nourished children they had encountered from very poor families?

The answer was ‘yes.’  Some of the children were well nourished even though their families were just as poor as those of the malnourished children.  These families were exhibiting positive deviant behaviour.

So the Sternins studied them.  What were they doing that was so different?

It turned out that the mothers in these families were all doing a number of things –

  • Collecting tiny shrimp and crabs from the paddy fields and adding them to the children’s meals.
  • Adding sweet potato greens to the meals.
  • Feeding the children three or four times a day instead of the customary twice.
  • Actively feeding the children, making sure they ate and that no food was wasted.
  • Washing their children’s hands before and after they ate.

Now they knew the key to the nourishment of the local children but how would they convince the villagers? They struggled to come up with ideas until a village elder reminded them of a local saying – “A thousand hearings isn’t worth one seeing, and a thousand seeing isn’t worth one doing.”

The Sternins designed a pilot project where local mothers agreed to work for two weeks with the ‘positive deviant’ mothers, harvesting the shrimps and greens, encouraging the children to eat, feeding them more often and washing their hands.

They were at all times encouraged to ‘do.’  They weighed their children every day and plotted the data on their own charts.  Within two weeks they could see the changes in their children for themselves.

This pilot project continued for two years after which malnutrition had decreased by 85% where the Positive Deviance approach was implemented.  Over the next several years this approach was used all over Vietnam and helped more than 2.2 million people improve their nutritional status.

The interview below is with Monique Sternin and demonstrates not only the success of this project but also beautifully shows how much the way we interact with others – all others – impacts on the outcome.

Beautiful


We are all convinced that our conception of beauty is natural. We think we like what we like, nobody teaches us what to like, either people are beautiful or they aren’t.

But is that really the case?

P.S. All of these girls look absolutely beautiful to me.

Significant


Status. 

Money.

Power.

Position.

Beauty.

Talent.

Brains.

Strength.

We want to be significant.

When you think about it all that means is that we want to matter – we want to be needed.

We want it to make a difference if we are there or not – if we breathe air or not.

The thing is, it does matter.

We are needed.

Much as I personally resist it – don’t you think we all need each other?

Teach a Girl – Change the World.


Camfed (Campaign for Female Education) is an international, non-profit organisation focused on educating and empowering girls and young women in a bid to eradicate poverty and help develop societies.   Camfed programs operate in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Ghana, Tanzania and Malawi.

In 1993, an English woman named Ann Cotton started Camfed at her kitchen table after a visit to Africa.  Nineteen years later, Camfed has helped 1,451,600 children with their education.  In addition, they have also set up the Cama Network – an offshoot of Camfed which trains and organises women to provide support, healthcare and education to others in their communities,

Wonderful as these things are there has been an unexpected outcome from this whole endeavour – the Camfed graduates have become individual philanthropists themselves.

The girls who have benefitted from the help given by Camfed, are now helping an average of 5 other girls at any one time – not including their own families who they also help.

As Ann Cotton says – “They are becoming real role models in their communities. It may be that the neighbor’s child can’t go to school because she doesn’t have a skirt, so she’ll provide that. Or maybe she’ll pay another girl’s school fees.  This was something we didn’t expect at all. It shows the power of education.”(1)

Human beings.  Endlessly wonderful once they get a chance.

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(1) Half the Sky, Nicholas D. Kristoff and Sheryl WuDunn, p. 203