How the rich can help the poor
Since 2006, the ONG Friendship Luxembourg has been contributing to the livelihood of the ultra poor in Bangladesh and Pakistan. Dependent for its funding on private individuals and companies, the NGO managed to increase the level of donations by more than 50% in 2011 compared to 2010.
The work of Friendship is founded on a simple but effective principle: the creation of an integrated model for development. Runa Khan, founder of the mother-NGO Friendship Bangladesh, explains: “The ultra poor are like a sieve. You can put in whatever you want, it all goes straight through. You have to identify their needs and plug those holes first, then you can build whatever you want on it and not only the work will be successful, but the people will also develop faster. With this approach, you also need far less money and intervention. The ultra poor can walk on their own two feet, if you plug the holes. That is the reason why we work in individual models.”
Up to 40% of funding of the Bangladeshi initiative comes from Friendship Luxembourg. Luxembourg donors gave almost 550,000 Euros to the NGO in 2011. 40% of this was from private companies such as banks and 60% from individuals. Together with more than 1 bn Euros given by the Luxembourg Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a tidy sum of money was gathered in order to support various projects. Today, Friendship can reach 60,000 beneficiaries per month, most of them in the most remote areas.
Runa Khan explains, what comes first: “Health is the most important issue. When a person is suffering, whatever development or technical assistance you put, it doesn’t work. So health work is our main point. In vulnerable areas, where you continually face natural disasters, we also get into disaster relief rehabilitation, like economic development activities, or money for crops and boats: whatever people need to make a livelihood. Then comes education, because this is the hope for the future, and last but not least the preservation of cultural traditions.”
One of the concrete projects supported by Friendship Luxembourg is the “Fishermen’s liberation project”. Microcredits were offered to poor fishermen along the coast of Bangladesh so that they could free themselves from economic dependency on other fishermen, to whom they had to sell their catch every single day, regardless of the quantity of the catch, the weather conditions or the fish breeding seasons. However, the most prestigious project in 2011 was the transformation of the former Greenpeace Rainbow Warrior II into a floating hospital that will start serving the poorest people along the Bangladeshi coast this coming autumn. A group of Luxembourg donors from the financial and private sector have undertaken to provide funding for this project during the next three years, so that the running costs of the hospital are guaranteed. EA