Thursday, July 16, 2015

Ask, tell

My Mitty-esque idea for helping a cause.
Now for something completely different:

In which, rather than blather about questionable conduct in my own life, I ask you for advice about an important part of someone else's life.

I need your expertise – experience with similar problems and solutions, resources I can look into, alternate solutions I don't even know about.

Here's the story:

One fallout from facebook™® and its best page ever, "Did you swim today?" (about which I've blathered ad nauseam) is meeting people reaching out for this and that need.

One person I've met this way is Kabutey Emmanuel McCain. He lives in Accra, the capital of Ghana in West Africa, along the Gulf of Guinea.

He swims, but mostly he teaches people how to swim.

Inability to swim is epidemic in Ghana, I've come to learn, where people move by water to get places — along the coast, across lagoons, up and down rivers.

Drowning is a big problem during normal times, Kabutey says, and goes underreported in his country because of burdensome requirements to get official help.

These aren't normal times — Accra is recovering from last month's massive flooding in which more people drowned and scores died when a gas station exploded where people had taken shelter from the rains. It's one of those tragedies we don't hear much about in the West.

Kabutey is trying to help people swim, and teach them to rescue others, normal times or no.

Someday, he says, he'd like to run swim-and-rescue programs throughout Accra and beyond its borders. Right now, he and some friends work in their neighborhood, using the community pool or a friend's pool when the weather permits, teaching the neighborhood children.

His is a shoestring operation on a broken shoestring budget. He would like to get some cardiopulmonary resuscitation mannequins to teach lifesaving skills … transportation money to get him and his team around Accra … and means of publicizing his programs.

I met Kabutey through facebook®™ when he was asking individual DYSTers (what swimmers on the page call themselves) for help.

Some sent some. I learned how cumbersome it is to send even a few items and a bit of money from California to Ghana. Though the bit of money reached Accra fairly quickly, the items took weeks and weeks.

This method of sporadic and individual giving was not going to help anyone accomplish anything, I realized – neither Kabutey his goal nor his donors goodwill.

Kabutey needs another way to go about this. Namely, he needs
  • another resource that's more dependable than a small random hodgepodge of people, or
  • a wider audience
  • he needs to be able to manage fundraising on his own
So now he's trying crowdsourcing. I don't know much about crowdsourcing, except that it's a way for a lot of people to give a little in a fairly convenient manner, the little adding up to a substantial sum to help people solve problems just like Kabutey's.

He could manage and monitor it, having access to a computer and social media.

I've offered what I can, which amounts to writing copy and maybe supplying graphics for the cause, including the logo above, which Kabutey did not ask for. I live in my own world of imagination, but even there, my pockets aren't deep.

He's trying, created in part by actor Edward Norton. It seems like a good fit.

But requires that he have a U.S. bank account, meaning someone else would have to manage fundraising operations for Kabutey, rather than him managing on his own.

He can't post any information about his needs on crowdrise until he secures a U.S. destination for the money.

We're back to where this started. I'm uneasy, frankly, about setting up an account for this purpose, because I don't know the ramifications, the pros and cons.

So I need your advice and suggestions, people and resources I can consult:
  • Have you ever set up an account for a similar person, or know someone who did, who can tell me the perils and pitfalls?
    • Is there a way to set up a third-party account?
  • What are some other means he can use to meet his needs such as:
    • Grants
    • Existing funding sources in Ghana or Africa
      • Sources that serve Africa specifically
      • Sources that serve swim instruction, lifesaving and drowning prevention specifically
  • What ideas do you have about helping serve Kabutey's needs that I don't even know about (my ignorance being epic)?
I welcome any and all ideas and resources I can pursue, and thank you for your consideration.

Right now it feels intractable, but my gut tells me it isn't.

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