As I just climbed through my parents attic to find my copy of Paul Collier’s, The Bottom Billion, I realized it may be a good time to brush up on all the reading I’ve wanted to do related to my work.
Note: some of the links may not be active so let me know @teetertother if they do/do not work!
Acumen Fellows Reading List
Rights and Responsibilities
Liberty and Social Order
Equality and the Quest for Social Justice
Community and the Search for Humanity
Books on Innovative Solutions to Poverty Alleviation
If we could shrink the earth’s population to a village of precisely 100 people, with all existing human ratios remaining the same, it would look something like this:
The village would have 57 Asians, 21 Europeans, 14 people from the Western
Hemisphere (North & South), and 8 would be Africans
70 would be non-white; 30 white
67 would be non-Christian; 33 would be Christian
30 would be 0-14 years old; 63 would be 15-64 years old; 7 would be 65 years old
1 would have HIV
51 would be male; 49 would be female
17 would be malnourished
80 would live in substandard housing
70 would be unable to read
1 would have a college education
6 would control 50% of the entire world’s wealth; all 6 would be US citizens
33 would lack food security
18 would be without access to improved water supply
39 would lack access to improved sanitation
2 would be near birth; 1 near death
30 would smoke tobacco
7 people would have access to the internet
I am grateful to have this fellowship with LGT Venture Philanthropy. This has given me the opportunity to take a step back and realize, it is not about me anymore. This fellowship is not about me.
Life is a comprised of many small moments building to bigger and better things.
I wanted this fellowship for a chance to work with Aangan Trust. I had never worked with NGO on a professional basis outside of Acumen Fund. In a previous life, somewhere in Chicago, I was trying to raise venture capital. Now I’m trying for social capital. Last week I began wavering in the sea of doubts,questioning, “Who am I? I’ve never raised large scale funds for an NGO before. If I can’t even get my FRRO papers, how the hell am I going to start helping diabetics when the fellowship is over? What kind of impact am I actually having?”
I think we all have the tendency to think about these kinds of things, and self-reflection naturally leads to selfishness. It lends itself to forgetting some of the lessons we learn even as children.
When I was a little girl, I didn’t know how to tie my shoes. I will confess, I didn’t learn how to tie my shoes until years after most children had. Pleasant Lea Elementary, most kids learned at 1st Grade, or around age 6 how to tie shoes. It took me until almost 4th grade to master this. I lied my way through elementary school. I would convince the other kids to bend over, daring them that they couldn’t tie a knot in my shoes that would last the entire day. I would make bets with the other kids if their knot fell apart, they would have to tie my shoe the entire day.
Kids actually agreed to this bullshit plan of mine.
Reality was, not only did I not know how to tie shoes. I hadn’t even really tried. I loved the feeling of my Papa bending over, helping me, that I became addicted to that dependability. Within time, I forgot I could even try.
I had forgotten to try.
I became convinced I was stupid, that I didn’t possess the capacity to tie my shoes, “Ugh, I am TEN YEARS OLD AND I CAN’T TIE MY SHOES!!! How am I the top reader in my class, the fastest to do my time tables, yet I can’t master this simple routine? I must be stupid”.
I eventually learned how to tie my shoes when I became vulnerable. Just like I am learning how to rock this fellowship. Last week I got news on more progress with my diabetic venture, and I am feeling some relief from the burden of looking at my work so critically I begin thinking, “Am I doing anything, at all?”
The answer is, I am trying.
For reasons such as these, it’s hard to quantify impact on any kind of scale. How can you prove that the fellowship will have outcomes? There are dollars raised, processes used, metrics and measurements you can analyze it by. But in the end, it’s not really about any of that. It’s not even really about me. That’s the great thing about joining something like the LGT Venture Philanthropy fellowship.
I say these things because today is my birthday.
My birthday always times nicely with Easter and I get holiday to see my family. I’m not homesick; I miss familiarity. There is something about returning to people that have known you your entire life, and support you no matter what, that is intimate. It’s your roots.
…I received my first birthday call from my parents, at 12PM, IST.
…I was woken up in the morning by one of my fellow iCats, a Columbian, who had been living in Paris, calling from Nicargua.
…Call was interrupted, by another iCat who is Indian and living in Cambodia.
…Beep!- text message from another iCat stationed in New Delhi, who’s had been living in North Carolina.
…I walk outside my bedroom after accidentally disconnected from Cambodian call, only to be greeted by death-sick French roommate, another iCats fellow, holding out boxes of French candies for me.
This is not to undermine any of the other wonderful people who have sent positive wishes my way. There are too many to list. But sometimes this experience is hard to quantify into words. Sometimes I don’t know what to say about how the fellowship is going, because quite frankly, even I’m not sure how to gauge it. Is there ever a “normal” for these kinds of things? It’s kind of one of those things you need to be sitting over some cocktails with chairs intertwined (definitely gimlets, Ms. Grace).
I’m happy to share my birthday with people I love all around the world, and the reminder that this day is not about me, but about those who have chosen to share it with me. Because I would not be here without the support, love, advice, and wisdom that I have been given despite all my shortcomings.
That includes the (hands clasped) forgiveness of Pleasant Lea Elementary alumni I have been lying to for 15 years about my inability to tie my shoes.
My birthday wish is dedicated to all those that are trying.
Hands that help are holier than lips that pray.