The Way We Think About Charity is Dead Wrong.
Today was Monday, and like most Mondays, I had a huge pile of emails begging for a response, and a big list of things to do in my mind. My normal approach (and the normal approach of most people, I’m sure) would be to spend several hours in the morning responding to all those emails.
Instead this morning, I tried something different, and completely ignored my email. I made a list of the most critical things upon arriving in the morning, and chugged through those. I was amazed at how much more productive this made my day.
While I can’t do this everyday, and I’ll probably answer most of those emails tomorrow, it was refreshing to focus on a proactive workflow, rather than a reactive one.
One day, there was a blind man sitting on the steps of a building with a hat by his feet and a sign that read: “I am blind, please help.” A creative publicist was walking by and stopped to observe. He saw that the blind man had only a few coins in his hat. He dropped in more coins and, without…
There is great value to be captured in how we use language!
We’re heading back to Guatemala!
I have been blessed in many ways. I’ve had a healthy, able body my whole life. I’ve had relatively few difficulties in learning, or getting my mind to do what I want it to. Most importantly though, I’ve been blessed by the people around me, people who have opened my eyes to the vast range of abilities in this world.
My wonderful fiance, Molly, is a Special Education Teacher. She works in a classroom with students who face more challenges just getting through each day than most of us could begin to understand. In her classroom, she works to teach her students basic “Life Skills”; the tools they need to get by in this complicated world. Her students, in 3rd through 6th grade, work on a whole range of skills, including: cleaning, cooking, using money, and counting. He goal is to make sure her students are as independent as possible when they leave her classroom, and head on to the next stages of their lives.
There are many different kinds of disability in the world, some mental, and some physical. While Molly’s work mainly revolves around people with mental disabilities (some of her students have physical disabilities as well), I have had the opportunity to build prosthetic arms for people with physical disability in the form of limb loss.
People quickly recognize that the work we do at Bump creating prosthetic devices is focused on individuals in poverty, especially those with disabilities, however, that’s not really all it’s about. Bump’s work, and Molly’s work is all about believing in the value of people.
We often hear groups that work to help children in poverty ask for our support because “one of these children could be the next Mozart, or find the cure for Cancer.” While statements like this one can get our attention, should that really be the reason why we value helping those children, just because of what “value” they bring to society?
I contend that we should not measure the value of a person on the basis of their ability to contribute to society in some way, but rather solely on the fact that they are a person. In fact, we should not be in the business of assigning different values to people at all. We should value the lives of all people as priceless, no matter if they are young or old, weak or strong, think big thoughts or little ones, have more or less limbs, or are inside of their mother’s womb or outside of it.
Many times in history, we have seen societies choose to treat certain groups of people with less value than others, and this has always occurred at great cost to everyone involved.
The United Nations recognizes today (December 3rd) as the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, because that is a group of people who are almost always undervalued. On this day (and all days) we should challenge ourselves to treat all people with the respect and dignity they deserve, because that’s really what it’s all about.
Today we begin our biggest production run of OpenSockets ever. By the time we’re done, we hope to have cranked out 60 of our below-elbow prosthetic arms. The largest single production run we’ve undertaken so far was 21 units. This time we’re going to multiply that by 3, and we’re producing a design that is lighter weight, more comfortable, and much better looking than anything we’ve made before.
As with all our production, this run will be carried out in our office space, using primarily volunteer manpower. The awesome volunteers who come in to help us make it possible for us to keep our costs low, while producing such large quantities of OpenSockets.
What’s more exciting to me than all of these new arms, is what we’re going to do with them. On January 1st, Ehsan and I will fly down to Guatemala to deploy these devices with people who can use them. We’re going to be working with NGOs, governmental organizations, and Rotary Clubs in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. It will be our largest single operation both in terms of time on the ground, area covered, and, most importantly, number of people served.
All of us at Bump are super excited about this trip. We’re most excited because we know it’s just the beginning.