Who wants to build an orphanage?

So you may have heard of this little non-profit that I co-founded, administrate, and have some fancy and official sounding titles in, because they won't let you incorporate in California without at least 3 officers and there were no other takers for the positions of CFO and Secretary. Apparently it involves a butt load of work and there aren't many people who are willing to do it without an accompanying salary of some sort. I don't even get benefits.

I do however get the satisfaction of helping a lot of really wonderful little kids in Thailand to have a safe place to live, be able to go to school and be taken care of by warm and loving people who really care about them. I get to be part of the exciting work of figuring out how we can maximize our impact in that region and make it so that our care for children is also something we can use to bring development and change to the communities and villages where these kids are from. I get to watch a dream of self sustaining orphanages that use socially responsible business models to provide for themselves and to transform communities come to life and start to happen.

Some day, when it's possible for anyone who wants to care for orphans to receive training on how to set up a home and run businesses that provide for the financial needs and help the community and everyone in aid, development and orphan care thinks about it differently as a result of the work we're doing right now, I will get to say, with some satisfaction, "I helped do that. I helped make that happen."

I also get to come to you today, and ask if you want to be part of that story too and offer you the chance to be part of making that happen.

Wait. Come back. I have prizes.

Last year you helped us to raise $7000 to buy a truck for the Charis Home so the kids could have a safe way to get to school and back, and to a doctor when they are sick.

Do you know what those smart, smart people are doing with the truck you helped purchase? They are running a transport business. When the truck isn't in use to drive children places they use it to transport crops to market for local farmers, they use it as a taxi to give other people rides. They charge for their services and as a result they need less money from us than they did a year ago.

It's our goal to bring them to the point where they don't need us at all! It's also our goal to replicate this model in other places where there is need. Our end goal is that years down the line businesses run by orphanages have revitalized communities, eliminating the factors such as poverty and social disintegration that cause these kids to need an orphanage in the first place. Essentially, we're trying to put ourselves out of business.

Well, that's the vision, the short version. (For a copy of our executive summary go here.)

Here's what we still have to do to get there.

We need $10,000 by September 30.

We owe $6000 still on the land we purchased last December. We received a very generous donation for the first half, which we thought would be the full amount but that land was so remote it would have cost $12,000 more to develop it. The land we decided to purchase was initially more expensive, but ultimately much cheaper, for starters, we don't have to build a road to it, or set up utilities. Also it's in a very good community.

They have already graded and prepared the land for buildings.

We estimate the cost of building an orphanage to be $2000.

We estimate the cost of starting a biointensive farm that will provide food for the children and to sell at local markets to be about $500.

We owe a remaining $700 on a smaller piece of land nearby with a fish pond on it that we are going to teach the business manager at the home to use for aquaponics, which is essentially using fish pond water for fertilizer and plants for filtration and growing two crops in one really quickly, and really efficiently.

It will take another $1300 estimated to actually set up the aquaponics system.

If we can't pay off the land at least by the time Aaron goes to Thailand again in October we forfeit it and the money already put into it. We can't afford a loss like that. The kids can't afford a loss like that. They are living in a rented storage facility waiting for their permanent home to be built.

Will you help us?

Like I said, there are prizes. I will be telling you about them over the next 2 weeks. (Teaser... Ipod anyone?) To win you have to make a donation and leave a message on our facebook wall saying you donated, which is where paypal will send you when you are finished. Some prizes will have a way to enter a 2nd time which I will tell you about. Some prizes are regional. We will draw winners at random from all of the entries after the fundraiser ends just before midnight September 10, 2011.

We can not do this alone. Please tweet, share on facebook, and tell your friends about the chance to help any way you can. You never know who will be interested unless you ask them. I always go into these things feeling like it's impossible, it's too much, and it won't happen. So far, you have always proved me wrong. So I'm counting on you guys to do your magic yet another time for the sake of these kids.

Thank-you so, so much.

To find out if we're legit check our Guidestar Profile. If you don't like paypal you can donate through our causes page.


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