Before we wrap-up our trip, we want to thank everyone for following along. Beyond your support, we have received many e-mails and phone calls of encouragement that have helped guide our project. We hope that we have kept you all in the loop through this blog and our regular updates. We have tried to keep them both informational and entertaining. However, if there is anything we have left out or anything that you wish to know more about that we have not answered, please let us know. You are encouraged to ask us anything about our trips or projects, we would love to hear from you. In the meantime, here are some thoughts on our latest progress and a little self-analysis.
Over the past year and a half, Focal Point has worked on our South African Campaign. We have met with community leaders, government officials, embassy employees, non-profit specialists, wealthy donors, and hard working volunteers. We have also spent more than a month within the Coffee Bay community itself. It was our first project location and has been the model for how we wish to run future projects. We have tried to run an aid program in a small, personal and effective way. Not by merely throwing money at an area or a project but by spending time with communities and learning the heart of their needs and problems. Then by personally ensuring that the aid we give is used for precisely what it is intended, we know that our supporters can trust that their donations are used properly.
As this current trip to South Africa is almost wrapped-up, we take a few seconds to ask ourselves some questions:
Have we done all we can to fulfill our promise to both the community and our supporters?
We certainly tried. Inasmuch as we stayed true to the ideas that founded Focal Point Aid, we have been very successful. We have been very open with our supporters and tried to communicate throughout this entire process. As far as the communities are concerned, we have done our best to bring them what we have promised, not always as quickly as we hoped, but we will continue to work until we have.
Does our model of running a small charity program work?
Yes, we thing it does. Small projects might not get the attention as the big guys, but they have been at the heart of international aid efforts for decades. A few people deciding it's time to do what they can to help is exactly the way every charity has begun, big or small. We hope that more people follow this model. Because of our size, Focal Point is able to spend attention to the little details that can really make a difference. The relationship we have with the communities we help grows more personal and direct each time we visit.
When dealing with vendors, government officials, and dozens of other people unknown to you, how do we know who to trust?
The real answer is that you can never be 100% sure. It will always take a little leap of faith, but we couldn't do our work without help from both our old friends and new ones. We hope that by spending a lot of time in the location of our project, we get a better sense of the local scene and know where and when to take those risks. Beyond those personal relationships, we never do anything without research. We seek out many recommendations from every source possible before setting our path. We have always and will continue to seek out advice from other non-profits as well when working in common areas and dealing with common problems. Some times it might take longer or had a few extra hurdles, but we think it's worth it.
Where is our next project?
Focal Point will always look for ways to help anywhere we can. It might be something at home in our backyard or it might be something abroad. Our work over the next few months will include looking for new grants and new areas of support. In the meantime, we still have much work to do on our current projects. While we will continue to find ways to assist Amun Shea in El Salvador, Coffee Bay remains our prime focus. On this trip we were able to supply desks, chalkboards and new paint two schools. It was a good trip, but it is not nearly enough. There is a mountain of more that we can and will do in Coffee Bay.
We hope that our diligence in our work and our proven track record for reliability will help us gain respect within the giving community. And we hope that our work thus far has lived up to the standards that we hold ourselves to and to the standards that you have all come to expect from us. Thank you all once again, the next time we talk it will be from New York.