I am a firm believer in the power of education and the importance of giving back, and with these things in mind, it is no surprise that I am a passionate supporter of Giving Africa, a nonprofit organisation dedicated to the exchange of wealth between Africa and the United Kingdom. Founded by my dear friend, Craig Goldblatt, Giving Africa focuses on providing much-needed funds to assist children and young people with the valuable skills to lift themselves, their families and communities from poverty. Additionally, the charity works to provide those who donate with knowledge and understanding about the vibrant and deeply spiritual African way of life.
I am proud to announce that for each paid presentation I deliver in 2017, Walking TALL will sponsor the school fees or school meals for one child for two years.
Today, it is my great pleasure to share my interview with Craig about this wonderful charity and how you can support this important cause.
Thank you for taking the time to share more about Giving Africa with us. Tell us, what inspired this project?
My mother was a social worker in South Africa before she passed away twenty years ago. Both of my parents encouraged a real sense of spirituality in me when I was younger and it was their deep sense of giving and love for Africa that really inspired me. This, combined with a deep respect for the African way of community, togetherness, and spirit, draw me ever closer to this work.
We love the concept behind Giving Africa and have our own thoughts, but would love you to share your mission with our readers. Can you tell us more about the charity?
The intention of the charity is to support both our UK community and those in Africa to love ourselves and those we share our lives with. Through this, we then support the eradication of physical and spiritual poverty.
You have said Giving Africa is less about “charity” and more about a mutual exchange between those giving money and those giving spiritual support. Can you share more about this?
In general terms, we believe that Africa has spiritual wealth and physical poverty. We in the west have physical wealth and spiritual poverty. Africa does not need saving, per se, as it has been around for billions of years. In my opinion, we need to support one another to share our resources to live a better quality of life. We demonstrate this through building schools and a better quality of education on the ground. We also organise journeys to Africa to understand the cultural diversity that exists between our two nations.
What do you feel is the most valuable part of your mission?
To help people to love and take care of themselves.
Burkina Faso is one of the poorest countries with one of the lowest literacy rates. What are the main projects you are working on in this area right now?
We are working on the following projects:
We are supporting the leadership of the school in Gourcy, Burkina Faso and also focusing on the following:
We are creating a gardening project in the school. This will teach valuable skills in terms of changing the harsh and dry land into fertile productive gardens. This will also support years of tradition with recent learnings and techniques. The project trains students and produces crops to feed some of the poorest children in the school through the food programme. In the future, we will increase the crops grown and it will provide as an income source as well.
Our new sewing project will teach a life skill that will give students an opportunity to make their own uniforms and clothes to sell locally.
The planning of a vocational programme that will utilise a number of different skills for the students.
The planning of a solar project for the students and the community of Gourcy.
Connecting online people in the UK with students in Burkina Faso.
What has been your most rewarding project in this area so far?
We have created eight classrooms, toilet facilities and a food programme for over 250 of the school’s neediest students. For many, this is their only meal of the day and many will save some food to bring back to their siblings at home.
Some people worry about how much of the money they donate goes to serve the actual cause. Can you share how the process from donation to execution work?
We are proud to say that, in the six years that we have been operating in Burkina Faso, we have lost a minimal amount of money, if any at all.
As a small charity, we are funding directly to the hands of our local partners. Our financial vehicle is kept simple with a direct link to the beneficiaries. Charities are constantly scrutinised by both the public and the Charity Commission to ensure they give the most benefit to the people they are set up to help – and this is the right thing to do.
There is an excellent TED talk about the need to reward Charities for what they do not how little they spend. It is very important to run a charity with due diligence to governance, financial procedures and ensuring minimal risk of fraud and corruption and this takes time and money.
As an International Development charity, we are different in that we benefit both UK and Burkina communities, and therefore the actual cause is found both in the UK and Burkina Faso. With minimal staff time (two part time posts), and no office or associated overheads, our donors can be assured that every day we work to put as many of their pennies into eradicating poverty through the power of learning
Many of our readers are interested in giving back and even starting their own philanthropic organisations. Would you share the biggest challenges you have faced since starting the charity?
Working in West Africa throws up many daily challenges. I guess the biggest for us is the power cuts on the ground that can hinder our communication.
Tell us what is coming up next for Giving Africa.
To build a wonderful vocational skills programme to support the entrepreneurial spirit of the young leaders within our school. and link them with entrepreneurs in the UK.
Thank you so very much, Craig. All of us at Walking TALL look forward to continuing to support this wonderful charity through 2017 and beyond.