Maas van den Top, Chair
A few years ago the Naples Council on World Affairs initiated the Village Assistance Program (VAP) to provide modest financial assistance to small communities in economically distressed areas in foreign countries.
In order to qualify for assistance the need must be well established. VAP financial assistance is typically given on a one-time only, in-and-out basis. This means that after the agreed funding is disbursed, there is no follow-up responsibility for management or maintenance. Also, VAP grants are not to blend into other organizations’ programs, but preferably be used for clearly identifiable stand-alone projects producing tangible outcomes. A reliable funding channel and provisions for on-site monitoring should be in place. VAP also requires direct involvement by Council members in whatever project is funded. A complete list of selection criteria, as well as information needed for a grant application, can be found on the Home page of the NCWA website under “VAP Application”.
Thus far twelve projects have been funded:
Mexico: A grant of $4,200 financed the construction of a thatch-roofed concrete building in each of two mountain villages near Veracruz. The village women now use the two buildings as a work place for their crafts (principally embroidery), which generate much of the villages’ income.
Jamaica: Council member Paula Grady served as a counselor for almost two years in a HIV/AIDS clinic in Montego Bay to which she was assigned by the U.S. Peace Corps. VAP granted the clinic $3,000 for the purchase of basic medical equipment. Paula was on the scene to receive the funds and to see to the acquisition and installation of the equipment.
Ghana: The village of Whuti now enjoys a spacious adult learning center built with VAP funds ($6,800) under the careful direction of Council member Jim Lancaster, who travels to the region often in various assistance endeavors. The center will serve a village complex of some 8,000 persons.
Haiti: Under the direct supervision of Council member Dr. William Cribbs, who travels frequently to Haiti on medical missions, VAP has dug two wells ($4,500 for both) in the southern village of Lavanou. The wells supply clean water to the local schools and also to the population of nearby villages.
Ethiopia: A grant of $3,000 was donated to the World Neurology Foundation for the purchase of 12 neurological testing kits. Council member Dr. Michael Finkel took the kits to Ethiopia for use in the countryside to identify people with neurological problems, who subsequently are treated in the Black Lion Hospital in Addis Ababa.
Guatemala: Through a grant of $5,000 to “Miracles in Action” VAP built two classrooms in the village of Pachimulin in Patzun. This small village has heretofore offered schooling only through the 6th grade, and children were obliged to ride on a bus once a week into the nearest large town to receive any higher education. Council member Marcy Larkin has traveled to Pachimulin to oversee the completion of the project.
Tanzania: AIDS orphans who live long distances from a secondary school in the Kagera region will be given bicycles to travel to their school, thus saving time to care for their siblings. Arrangements are also being made to enable grant recipients in Kagera to communicate with a classroom of the Pine Ridge Middle School in Naples. Council member Douglas Burke is supervising a VAP grant of up to $5,500 to purchase the bicycles and some communication equipment.
South Africa: VAP donated $3,000 to finance the purchase of frames and lenses for the Eye Clinic on the Phelophepa Mobile Health Care Train in South Africa. The eye clinic offers same-day services with eyeglasses made while the patients wait. The funds are channeled through “American Friends of the Phelophepa Train”. Council member Maureen Winograd, who is on the Phelophepa board, monitors the project.
Tanzania: On the request of Council member Tom Roets, VAP donated $5,000 to the Tumaini Fund for the purchase of solar lamps for orphans in the Kagera region of Tanzania. The lamps will help orphans, who attend secondary school, to study at home and be better students. The solar lamps will replace kerosene lamps that have a poor light quality, pollute the indoor air, present a fire hazard and are costly due to the price of kerosene.
Haiti: Council member Deborah Doyle is a member of a group of donors in NY State, called Friends of Borgne, that is enabling children in Borgne, Haiti, to attend school by providing scholarships and food. A VAP grant of $5,000 will enable the group to establish a sewing center, purchase sewing machines, fabric, etc., and provide for training of young people to make uniforms (for schools and various other purposes) for which there is a great demand.
Guatemala: Council member Marcy Larkin is associated with Miracles in Action, a charitable organization devoted to building schools in Guatemala. VAP donated $5,000 to the organization for the purchase of roofing materials, windows and doors for a school in the village of Las Camelias, which the government started to build four years ago but never finished.
India: VAP donated $4,000 towards the construction of a training center for healthcare workers in Uttar Pradesh, India. Council members Charles & Arlene Garrity are involved in this project that provides preventative and basic curative healthcare to villagers in one of the poorest regions of India.
The VAP projects actually depend upon proposals from the Council membership. The program in Mexico began with an idea of a daughter of a Council member who lives and works in Mexico. The Jamaica project was conceived and proposed by a Council member on the scene in Montego Bay. The projects in Ghana, Haiti and Ethiopia involved Council members traveling frequently to the sites to check on progress. Council members are also involved in the VAP projects in Guatemala, Tanzania, South Africa and India
Without this kind of membership involvement there will be no VAP grants. Therefore members are asked to be alert to the opportunities where, like so many other World Affairs Councils around the country, our Council can contribute, however modestly, to a better world.
Click here for VAP application.