One family at a time
A new model for humanitarian action
Winner of the FOBISIA – ITM Race4Good Journalism competition, 2021 – 2
Oscar Perring, Mira Vonna-Michell, Maho Fukuda and Sapphire Barker consider a very different approach to supporting global communities who need assistance.
Changing lives forever
After a national disaster, poorer countries look to the rich and affluent in the world, hoping for aid support for the people who have been affected. In the long term however, is this really the most effective option for sustainable change?
“Changing lives forever“. This is the aim of Race4Good, a unique leadership programme bringing schools and companies together from all around the world to uplift a community in need.
It started in 1996. A young, stressed mother was driving home along a motorway one night when, suddenly, she couldn’t see the road in front of her. This was the result of temporary blindness, and it provoked a profound insight: what is the point of living . . . if life has no point? This idea sparked a newfound interest within the woman: an interest to help improve the lives of people around the world. From then on, she became a determined humanitarian, helping out on the frontline with people who were desperately in need.
This young woman was Linda Cruse, the founder of Race4Good.
Determined to make a difference, Cruse started a new life. This was the beginning of a scary, lonely, but emotionally fulfilling job: teaching skills and bringing support– and, above all, love – to war-torn refugees, the poverty stricken, and the victims of disasters.
When creating Race4Good, Cruse fused her passion for adventure and explorer’s spirit with her aim of helping communities to achieve an ambitious goal: making a difference within remote communities. What set her apart when she started her journey was her ability to negotiate powerful partnerships between large businesses who wanted to help strengthen communities but did not know how to go about it. Cruse was completely invested in supporting people in need, and so she achieved success through the necessity of the project; for her, failure was not an option.
Handout . . . or hand-up?
While Linda Cruse was working on the frontlines, a woman came up to her with a baby in her hands. She pleaded in desperation: ‘Linda, please take my baby.’ However, Cruse looked back at her and said: ‘No. I will not take your baby, and I will not feed your baby. Instead, I will promise to help you so that you can support your own baby.’
Linda Cruse’s phrase ‘Hand-up,not handout’ is essentially a mantra of Race4Good and what this means is that instead of giving sustenance to those in need (a handout), a hand up provides a chance for people to sustain themselves, for example, by helping them start a business and this is a brilliant example of it. The lady was struggling to support her baby after a natural disaster had wreaked havoc on her community. Cruse was there, helping with handouts, but she acknowledged she couldn’t do that forever. This moment was when Cruse realised that handouts lead to dependency.
Of course, handouts are necessary, but this form of helping only works for the short-term – at most, around six to eight weeks – and so it is more sustainable to give a ‘hand-up’ instead. Cruse now implements these hand-ups through Race4Good and by harnessing the power of the fresh young brains of young people, Cruse was able to make the changes she wanted, using a fun competition for students around the world which uplifts communities in need. She called this the ‘Race4Good’.
Race4Good in action in Nepal
Race4Good supports both of the parties involved in the competition. The students participating get to learn about religion, geography, history, business, effective teamwork, and more, while the family being uplifted is given a chance to become independent and is empowered through the application of winning solutions. These are implemented quickly (within two days), so students are able to see the effects of their efforts in action.
One of the most recent examples of such sustainable solutions can be seen in the rural village of Ghufa Pokhari (Nepal). The 2020 Race4Good challenge was to economically uplift the Bishwakarma family with a budget of 400 GBP after the Nepal Earthquake.
Prior to the earthquake, Raju Bishwakarma was a blacksmith, supporting a wife, Tulsi, and their two young children. Using the powerful combination of innovation and empathy, teams thought of a range of ways in which to uplift the family. The winning team, the Prince of Wales Island International School, came up with a number of business plans that have been implemented. Some of their plans include goat rearing opportunities for several families, a weaving cooperative managed by a women’s group, an introduction of traditional looms and a yak to provide cheese and clothing.
One of many families who have been supported by Race4Good
As a result of these ingenious ideas from the team, the family is now economically independent. This clearly shows how a hand-up is far more effective in the long run than a hand out, and how a few, well-planned ideas can change a whole community.
The next region to be influenced by Race4Good will be a remote community in Haiti. There, as in Nepal, by empowering one family at a time, Race4Good hopes to transform many lives forever.
We are a team of Year 8s who all have a passion for writing, and jumped at the idea of writing an article for Race4Good; especially after hearing what Race4Good has done in the past. We are all either Writing or Library ambassadors at our school, and we are all volunteers for this competition.
We have not done much article writing before, so we thought it would be a good opportunity to have an attempt and see what we can do to improve.
Oscar, Mira, Maho and Sapphire.
(All photos used, including the feature photo are by kind permission of Race4Good).