Monday, August 3, 2009

And so it begins...

This blog is officially being retired...

Keep up with my new adventure story here:

Friday, April 24, 2009

Changing of the Seasons

Sometimes there are difficult times in life--and you can't control what happens, only how you respond to those situations. This is one of those times for me. A time of change, growth, and strengthening.

There are LOTS of BIG changes going on right now...The blog will be back very soon! I promise!

For now you can check out my newest venture:

down, but never out.

- david

Thursday, February 12, 2009

We're not dead and no one has malaria...yet...

So you may be wondering why it's been a few weeks since we blogged about anything...well we haven't even had time to think lately...

Briefly, here's what we've been up to:

01/16 - 10 PM - I finally arrived in FL to spend a few days with Mom & Dad before hitting the ground running in Nashville...

01/20 - Noon - Back in the saddle...well Nashville at least, and back to work.

01/21 - 01/28 - Working tirelessly to get all of our Global Support accounting up-to-date...not a fun job...especially when we had a deadline to get our giving statements in the mail by 01/31.

01/29 - Drove down to Biloxi, MS for a Second Avenue Trade show.

01/30 - Second Ave Trade Show

01/31 - Drove back to Nashville...made it home to see Travis, as he returned from Africa

02/01 - 02/04 - Trying our hardest to pull off our Nashville "This Is Love" Banquet! Also working on some cool new vid's...they'll be on the web soon!

02/05 - 10 AM - This is Love Setup

7 -10:30 PM - Nashville "This Is Love" Banquet

10:30 PM - 12 AM - This is Love Tear Down

02/06 - 02/08 - Running errands and hanging with the coolest Australian you'll ever meet.

02/09 - Drove to Mississippi to get ready for Biloxi "This Is Love" Banquet

02/10 - Biloxi "This Is Love" Banquet

02/11 - Day Off (FINALLY! but i did have a migraine most of the day, not cool)

02/12 - Mobile "This Is Love" Banquet

Right Now - writing people don't think we're dead.

So that's pretty much it...we've been sending pics via twitter if you wanna see some photos of the can also check out our Global Support Mission Facebook page...

We'll definitely be keeping the blog more up to date now that we have time to be sane human beings.

Also, a HUGE THANK YOU to everyone who had any part to play in making the "This Is Love" Banquets a success. All three banquets, Nashville, Biloxi, and Mobile, were great and we could not have done it without you!


Sunday, February 1, 2009

A Quick Blog

We are doing great and at the end of our trip. It's sad to be leaving, but I'm also super excited about getting back to the US and getting to work at home.... so so much to do!

The last few weeks have been amazing... but I don't have much time to go into details.

I haven't been able to post as many blogs as I would have liked... but I'll try and catch up. I have about 7 minutes to get this one up.... so hopefully it makes sense.

A picture is worth a thousand words... so I'm going to share a few pic's... they are from about two weeks ago. I will post another blog ASAP that has more recent photos.

Here you go!

Motorcycle training... gotta start them off young!

Doing an interview with a friend of mine who was suffering from Malaria.

Dinner in Fort Portal.

Paul was pretty happy about his card!

Rebecca helping the kids make thank you cards for our partners.

Katy working her photographer magic... the kids freaked over the polaroid pics!

Amy the artist.


Art projects!

Speaking at the youth conference.

Some serious rope burn on the chest... and no I didn't make it across.

David saying goodbye at the staff meeting.

Taxi park in Kampala.

Cooper helping me do research on the profitability of the medical clinic.

My daughters (jk)... they're the best!

David teaching the accounting staff Quickbooks.

Cooper became a man... he killed a rooster for dinner.



Monday, January 12, 2009

Things I've Learned

This is my last blog from East Africa. After nearly a month and a half, I've seen, heard, tasted, smelled and touched many things. Some of these things have either changed my perspective, reminded me of things I'd forgotten, reitterated my opinion, or completely opened my eyes. Here are a few of them (in no particular order):

Third world accounting can be very complex.
Over the past three weeks I've been working tirelessly with the accounts team from Bringing Hope to the Family (the org we work with in Uganda) to develop a better accounting system for the organization. The organization has grown so large that the previous system was not adequate enough. We have moved them from using paper ledgers to now using Intuit QuickBooks on the computer. I've been very surprised how fast they learned the program and how hungry they were to put it to use. The new system is much easier to use but...

Sometimes, in an effort to keep organizations accountable, funders/donors make it more difficult for non-profits to do their jobs.
The new accounting system we've put into place is only complex because of the special constraints put on some of the donations. Several funders/donors that our organization works with, require that their money be kept in separate bank accounts and that the org's receiving funds keep separate accounting records of the money being spent...Setting up these accounts has been very frustrating in that respect. We've had to develop special procedures just for these funders...I hope they feel special...we worked extra hard just for them.

Relationships are more important than the "mission".
Sometimes this one is easy to forget about. This job is about people, not about achieving a mission or having a feeling of accomplishment on the flight home. The goal is investing in individuals...investing in their future... The mission should be developing friendship and lives. Everything else is built upon that.

One by-product of the trust that comes from relationship is efficiency and effectiveness. The most difficult of tasks can be accomplished when people really trust each other. I think the problem is trust only comes with relationship and time...two things that many NGO's/people don't invest in.

Governments can be real stupid.
During this trip, this thought has passed through my mind more than any other. Then again, governments are made of people. But they can still be stupid. In so many circumstances on this trip, governments have impeded growth, stifled economic development, and stopped great ideas.

It's not only frustrating for us Westerners...(i know we have our issues, but) imagine visitors coming to visit you and telling you about an economic system with few barriers to trade...about a system that allows you to buy from whomever you can sell to whoever you want, at whatever price you want...imagine feeling that your government, which is supposed to be a democracy working for the people, is the very entity prohibiting your success.

While we were in Tanzania, we discussed the coffee farming industry with a coffee farmer and the head of a coffee co-op. Their main question was "How can farmers get more money for their crops?" Unfortunately, the TZ government doesn't allow for farmers to sell directly to buyers...all coffee must go through the government...which means that the government sets the overall price of coffee because they are the final buyer. Economically, it's great for the government, but terrible for the peasant farmers. They can never get fair market prices, because the cap is set by the government... We explained that it was the government that was holding down prices, and that there was nothing that we could do to help them...we don't buy from government for this very's a stupid practice. Yes, in one sense, it keeps prices at a minimum...but it also keeps them at a disrupts the whole concept of supply and demand...

(on a side note: i think this is one reason for idleness and unemployment in third world countries. it's not that people don't want to work, they do. It's because at some point the return on investment isn't high enough...if they are going to work hard, they should be paid for they do just enough to get by...)

OK, so I'm getting off the soapbox and moving on...

People are people...even with all of our differences, we are SO similar.
This one is universal, not Africa specific. I've been thinking about this a lot. It's amazing that nearly all humans smile and laugh...use body language...enjoy relationships...feel sympathy...use their hands when they talk. But that doesn't mean we can assume we understand each other...different experiences create different perspectives...just something to think about.


Friday, January 2, 2009

Community Development

I've been reading a book called Two Ears of Corn. It's about creating sustainable agricultural projects that are community oriented and led. It is written by Roland Bunch. He has written and expounded on one of the best definitions of development I've ever come across. His definition is one of the core philosophies of Global Support Mission. I would like to share this passage from the book.

“Definitions of development abound, but most people would now agree that, among other things, development is a process whereby people learn to take charge of their own lives and solve their own problems. Development is occurring where people are gaining the self-confidence , motivation, character traits, and knowledge needed to tackle and solve the problems they have by actually tackling and solving those problems.”

He goes on to say... “If this process is, in fact, development, two corollaries immediately follow. First of all, giving things to people and doing things for people cannot be called development. On the contrary, they are the very opposite of development. Secondly, the development process, whereby people learn, grow, become organized, and serve each other, is much more important than the greener rice field and fatter coin purses that result (speaking about agricultural projects specifically). Although the two must go hand in hand, the 'how it is done' matters more than the 'what is accomplished.' And the 'how it is done' must include constructive participation.”

The ideas that these two paragraphs communicate are so insightful! If you are interested in getting into any kind of community development, please please please get a hold of these concepts. I am inexperienced and green compared to so many people who are in my field of work, but it doesn't take long to discover that the “western world” has done more damage than good by just giving things to people and doing things for people.

So how do we, Global Support Mission, put these ideas into practice?

Our well projects with Bringing Hope to the Family (our network affiliate in Uganda) is probably one of the best examples I can think of. Clean water is a huge need in the communities where BHFT operate, and we are partnering with them to solve this problem. Like any other project that we work on, it is being led by the locals. Here is the process.

Locals hear that BHTF is assisting communities in digging shallow wells. They identify that there is a lack of access to clean water in their community and submit an application to BHTF. The application process includes a description of the need, how many families will benefit, commitment that the community benefiting from the well will provide labor, a committee of locals who will oversee the maintenance of the well, and the donation of land on which to build the well.

We supply the money, BHTF supplies the engineer and the community supplies the land and labor (as committed to in the application). The end process is a well that is built for half the price that the local government would build the same well and a community that takes pride and ownership in the accomplishment!

This is a picture of one of the shallow wells we financed this past year. On the base of the well it says it was built by Bringing Hope to the Family (our local affiliate). Credit to GSM is no where to be seen, and that is purposeful.

Let me share one last quote from Roland. “...all of us working in development must remember that our job is not to become heroes, but to make heroes out of the people with whom we are working.”

It is critical that our network affiliates are seen as the heroes in their communities, because they are! If the focus ever shifts to us and what we have to offer, than I would say we are doing a great disservice to that community.

As an organization, we exist to see a movement of compassion wipe out hunger, disease and extreme poverty, but it's a LOCAL movement of compassion that is going to accomplish this... our movement is merely a support role. I think our name says it all... global SUPPORT mission.



Thursday, January 1, 2009

Random Things

Blogs can't all be serious. So I'll be letting my hair down on this one.

Five Things I'm Currently Missing

5. Hot Showers
4. My Bed
3. Sleeping without a rooster outside my window
2. Technology (the internet anytime)
1. Ice Cold Cokes

A New Thing

When you travel as much as we have over the past few months, it's not everyday that you encounter a new though, was a different story...

(I'm writing this so that if you're every in a similar situation, you can aviod it...)

Do not:

Pop a breathmint in your mouth then walk into the outhouse.

Breathmints are great by themselves...

The outhouse is bearable by it's self...

But's way too wierd...i couldn't handle both extremes and had to expediate my visit to the outhouse...

Happy and Not-So-Happy

With limited internet access, it's hard to stay up-to-date with the NFL...since being here I've had a few withdrawl symptoms...i do miss watching football...especially in Dec when the weather gets bad, teams are jocking for playoff positions, and coaches are being fired. Here's what i just learned and how i feel:

I'm Happy because:

- The Titans are the No 1 seed in the AFC...they have a bye this week...congrats Titans...

I'm Not-So-Happy because:

- The Bucs fell apart in December. Though they were once leading their division, they didn't even make the playoffs.
- Long-time Bucs Defensive Coordinator Monte Kiffin has resigned to coach with his son at the University of Tenn. (maybe i'll be a Volunteer fan now, who knows) Maybe this addition will help UT beat the Gators...which is a good thing...