Friday, December 15, 2006

Disaster Aid

It seems the more fundraising we do, the more interested we become in how other aid organizations operate and spend their money.

This story from the Reuters Foundation looks at a report from the International Red Cross, which details how much money was distributed per person per disaster in 2005. Given the relative value of dollars around the world, it's difficult to know how much assistance a person receives from the money they're given. Still, the power of the US dollar is rather striking.

Which brings up another interesting article from MSN. According to this report, if you earn more than $2,200/year, you are in the top half of the world's wealthiest. The report also says the three richest people in the world have more money than the bottom 48 counties combined. It doesn't name names, but I'm presuming they mean Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and Carlos Slim Helu, who have a combined net worth (according to Forbes) $136.86 billion.


Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Beginning

Tomorrow morning I will go to Bremer Bank here in Morris. I'll sit down with one of the friendly tellers and wire $1,500 to Standard Charter Bank in Pokhara, Nepal to the account of Dinesh Rajbhandari.

I will give the teller an account number from which to take the funds. Then she (they're all women at Bremer) will ask me for an account number and something called a Swift code in order to complete the transaction. As it will be Friday, there will be trays of cookies set out for patrons. I can't resist; I'll take one and leave.

In the banking world, this is a fairly mundane transaction, but for us it represents a monumental step for Sam's House. It is our first official disbursement of money.

Dinesh will be using the money as a down payment on some furniture he's ordered from a local carpenter--beds and tables. It also includes our first three month's rent on the house in Pokhara.

We were granted our non-profit status on January 11 of this year, and in less than twelve months, through the incredible support and hard work of friends and family, we've managed to raise enough money to give Sam's House three years of support.

So it will not be without some gratitude and reflection that we make that wire transfer tomorrow.

Thanks to all of you who have helped--either through donations, spreading the news, or just a kind word shared. It has all meant the world to us, but more importantly, it will mean the world to many young children who benefit from your generosity.


Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Slogging through Bureaucracy...

We've written in this space before about the (sometimes) archaic and (always) frustrating procedures for registering anything in Nepal--visas, permits, etc. As Jennifer would say, "a complete Weberian nightmare!"

Actually, she wouldn't say that but she should.

Truth be told, Nepal's maddening bureaucracy is just a function of the country's overall economic lack. I won't bore you with an explanation. As Jennifer would (should) say, "It's Durkheim writ large!"

Dinesh has been racing around the last month trying to have Sam's House completely registered prior to my arrival next month. On the constitution he submitted a few weeks back, each trustee's signature was required on each page of the constitution for a total of 400+ signatures. By comparison, Jennifer and I signed a couple pages en route to our Sam's House registration with the IRS.

I don't want to beleaguer the point... but here is a tale from Dinesh from a recent e-mail. Prior to the recommendation letter Dinesh mentions, he needed to collect signatures from people near Sam's House saying they wouldn't be opposed to an orphanage in their neighborhood.

"I am glad to inform you that we have received a recommendation letter from the Pokhara Municipality. Now, with that letter, we will need to go to the District Development Office then finally District Administration Office. The members of the board will also need to be present in the DAO. So, we are planning to go both places on Sunday. The DAO will require police reports of all board members so I guess, that will take some time. Getting the five signatures from the people in the neighborhood was much easier than waiting 2.5 hours for an officer to get his signature on the recommendation letter in the Municipality office. He had gone to a motor-bike repairing centre to get his motorbike repaired during his office hours!!!"

In other news, Dinesh has started gathering price quotes for furniture and other house materials. Next week he'll start advertising for house mothers and sisters to work at Sam's House.