A few weeks back, Matador CEO Ross Borden sent me a link to a Nick Kristof article in The New York Times Magazine: “DIY Foreign Aid Revolution.”
The premise of the article was this: “[I]t’s not only presidents and United Nations officials who chip away at global challenges. Passionate individuals with great ideas can do the same, especially in the age of the Internet and social media.”
Though Kristof said “this revolution [is] so far unnamed because it is just beginning,” I could easily think of a dozen people I know through Matador who’ve been part of this “revolution” for a while.
Like Zack Parker.
1. While in Papua New Guinea surfing in 2007, Zack noticed that water and sanitation infrastructure were limited and caused serious health problems, including death. Zack and his friend, Taylor, started talking with locals about sanitation and health issues; soon, Walu International was formed.
2. The goal of Walu International is to work with residents of PNG's coastal communities to develop locally-based solutions to the current sanitation problems. In the short film, "Where's Walu?", one man expresses how grateful he is for the organization, saying no traditional foreign aid has ever reached his community.
3. Though he used to spend his time looking for perfect surf, Zack's now fired up by getting the word out about Walu International and seeking support for the projects it's funding in PNG.
4. Dave Algoso, writing for Foreign Policy, argued, "Nick Kristof is wrong. Amateurs are not the future of foreign aid." It's true that DIY foreign aid has its risks. But thought through well, groups like Walu International may be able to fill critical gaps current aid and development projects just can't reach.