Tag Archives: Community Development

Philippines Support: Will You Help?

I wrote the following support letter to several of my friends, and I’m hoping that others who may know me online would be willing to pray for me, and/or help me financially.

Dear Friends,
As many of you know, I am currently living and working in Boston, and have been here for just under 1½ years. My time here has been special. I have grown tremendously, learned many things, and have formed deep friendships.

Recently, I have spent time volunteering for a Christian microfinance organization (MFI) known as PEER Servants. As you may be aware, I graduated with a degree in Community Development. Organizations like PEER Servants get me excited because they place an emphasis on both the spiritual and material needs of the poor, while at the same time respecting the poor by honoring their own knowledge, desires and experiences.

In the middle of November, I have the opportunity to spend a week with PEER Servants as they take a small group of people to the Philippines. (You may recall that I spent 3 months in the Philippines in 2008! If you would like to learn more about that trip, you can visit my blog at www.davidmartinwhite.com, and click on “Philippines.” I will try to blog about this trip too.) The goal of this trip is to document short case studies on an MFI that PEER Servants has partnered with in the Philippines, known as Center for Community Transformation (CCT).
CCT is an indigenously lead Christian organization that has partnered with thousands of Filipinos to provide very small, affordable business loans. These case studies will be used to help others here and around the world to learn about successful microfinance. PEER Servants has partnered with several MFIs around the world, and the case studies will be valuable in helping several of these organizations learn from a successful, indigenously lead organization. You can learn about CCT by visiting www.cct.org.ph and you can learn about PEER Servants by visiting www.peerservants.org.

I am writing to ask you to consider prayerfully in supporting me. I have already purchased my plane ticket, which cost just under $1,300. Other costs will be approximately $500. By my own choice, I have committed to paying for at least half of this trip out of my own pocket. Therefore, if I raise more than $900 from friends like you, I will be donating the excess money to PEER Servants for their continued work in Christian microfinance around the world.

As I wrote in my first Support Letter that took me to the Philippines in 2008, I believe that your investment is more than simply helping me “provide” things “to” “the poor”. Instead, my aim is to build partnerships in the Philippines and to help strengthen the ties between CCT and PEER Servants. Your investment in this trip would also help me in my own critical thought (and prayer) process of whether or not a life working overseas is what I should continue pursuing.

Will you join me? First, I am asking for your prayers. Pray that, even though 1 week is an extremely short time, I would be blessed by the people with whom I work in the Philippines, and that they would be blessed by me. Pray that I would humble myself and allow myself to be taught by the CCT staff. Pray that I would learn from the microfinance recipients. And pray that our quest for case studies would be a success!

Second, I am asking you to contribute financially. If you are able and willing to help, please donate online at www.peerservants.org/emaildonation.php?volunteer=David+White.

Thank you in advance for your prayerful and/or financial support.

Sincerely,
David White

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Using Drupal for Good

Ok, so I admit, www.davidmartinwhite.com isn’t Drupal. Obviously. But you know what? I’m more of a fan of Drupal than I am of WordPress. I may even move this into Drupal soon… but that’s beside the point.

I just sent an email to some of my coworkers at Acquia, because I think that Drupal could be used to help the situation in Pakistan. Here’s the large majority of that email:

For those of you following me on twitter, you know that I’ve been very vocal about encouraging the response to the floods in Pakistan to increase; I also see myself as a “volunteer knowledge transfer agent” of sorts on twitter, and I did the same thing after the Haiti earthquake. I think I’m in a bit of a unique position to do this, because I have friends and experiences with several nonprofit organizations, but I’m also sitting behind a computer all day, understand a lot of the technical stuff that goes on behind the scenes, and can pass on knowledge hopefully to NGOs who are following me, and who are “listening.”

You may or may not be familiar with CrisisCommons. It’s a website of programmers, technicians, volunteers, etc… from around the world who donate their time during crises to build web platforms, increase the flow of knowledge, etc… related to the region / country in crisis. It really got going after the Haiti earthquake, and that’s when I heard about it and volunteered during 1 of their “crisis camps” in Boston and became a member of their website.

Recently, there’s been a lot of tweets flowing around about Volunteers that are needed to help read incoming SMS messages from the field, translate them (if necessary), categorize them, and spit them back out so that people on the field can access them.

I’m thinking Drupal can do all of this, automatically. Views, taxonomy, building a simple module that would read certain twitter feeds (hashtags) (is there anything that does this already?), and then it could go to town. I’d even be willing to take one of the leads in building said Drupal site.

I am working on getting in touch with the people at Crisis Commons & Ushahidi to find out if this would be beneficial. My gut tells me “yes” because Drupal is so powerful – it can do all of this automatically, but in addition, the site could be built out to include other features as well, like importing all of the different maps that Google, OpenStreetMap, & Ushahidi have built and put them into a central location to view, we could build out a low-bandwidth version of the site that could be loaded quickly from places in Pakistan, etc…

If you want to be involved in this project, please contact me or post a comment below.