A Path Appears
It's the most amazing book I've read all year and definitely on
my lifetime short list. It's the literary equivalent of gourmet
cheesecake. Unless you are a reviewer who must keep up a steady
output of content I'd advise you to take it slow--chapter by chapter--
and really absorb and contemplate its wisdom. Otherwise you might
find yourself, like this reviewer, almost overwhelmed by the abundance
of knowledge and opportunity it presents.
You may recall awhile ago Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn
gave us Half the Sky, a poignant reminder that women and girls
constitute half the human race. They detailed the dangers and
challenges faced by at risk members of this population and the things
people and groups are doing to make their life more safe, equitable,
and empowering. In A Path Appears: Transforming Lives, Creating
Opportunity they tackle another huge roadblock. Only a small
percentage of charity donations go to those who need help the most.
Also some of the causes that demonstrate the biggest effectiveness,
the most bang for the buck, are routinely bypassed for "sexier" ones.
For instance, one of the most effective ways to improve school
attendance of children in Africa is to rid them of parasitic worms
that sap their strength.
Those of us who want to help others have a chance to survive and
thrive can face a tsunami of mail and email appeals. Some of the
organizations sending them are not especially effective. Some are
downright fraudulent. Most of us don't have a clue how to seperate the
wheat from the chaff. Kristof and WuDunn have done the homework for
us. A Path Appears provides laypeople with excellent guidelines for
choosing organizations in which to invest hard earned money and
precious time to do the most good.
The authors also question some of the assumptions many people in
the charity sector have. One is that benevolent works should not be
assessed by the same effectiveness criteria as for profit
organizations. A lot of projects are based on unproven hunches and
turn out to be relatively ineffective or even useless. However, the
same scrutiny can also uncover projects that are far more effective
than anyone dreamed they would be.
"Rigorous evaluation is essential, whether we're talking about
poverty in India or in America. The stakes are too great to fight
the global war on poverty based on hunches and intuition...If it's
important for businesses to be meticulous in planning a new business
line, it's even more critical for an aid organization or donor to rely
on careful evidence to plan the best way to fight maleria or educate
My favorite aspect of the book, however (I suspect it will be
your favorite too) is the richness of inspirational stories of life
transformation here and abroad. Many feature quite unlikely heroes.
Collectively they will make you want to stand up and cheer...
...and hopefully get involved or more involved in helping to
heal a world in need of all of our talents.
On a personal note, I am having a lovely weekend. Eugene is away at
camp. So I am devoting the weekend except church and exercise to
cleaning and writing and nighttime reading. I'm making great progress
scrubbing public room walls. I realized I could cover a hole in a
living room wall by moving the DVD bookcase. While I'm doing that I'm
thinning out DVDs. I feel like it's all coming together toward a
house so nice looking I can have family and friends over.
A great big shout out goes out to all who invest money or time to help
those in desperate need.
Julia Emily Hathaway
Sent from my iPod