Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Life Project for Africa

Russell Simmons Challenges the Audience to Give More Despite the Times

“It is in giving that we receive. When we give - we get.” Sitting in the lap of luxury at the Prestigious Trump National Golf Club, an estate owned by Donald Trump, Russell Simmons found the words to convey a poignant message.

Russell’s words struck at the heart of my initial unease. The country club is an exquisite example of opulence – marble bathrooms, statues galore, myriad chandeliers, and everything Trump-like you can imagine. Yet, the evening was devoted to raising funds to create access to water, access to medication, access to education and the basic necessities – the things that really matter.

The organization running the fundraiser was Life Project for Africa (LPA), a young but successful group that understands the importance of a comprehensive mission. By building and equipping a hospital and tackling issues like education and water, LPA has begun the process of changing the lives of a population of 120,000 in Tanzania. What started out of the efforts of a Catholic Church’s parishioners, led by Tanzanian priest Fr Stephen Mosha, has grown into a separate non-profit organization with the vital mantra of “together we are hope”.

The mantra is not lost of the evening’s event. It is important to note that LPA is entirely volunteer run and operated and that the event was held at the country club through the generosity of Donald Trump. In doing so LPA was able to attract a very broad and resourceful audience. Throughout the delicious hor dourves, fine foods, and dancing the gala goers were lured into the world of people struggling through everyday life in Tanzania. Most importantly they were shown how the funds generated from previous evenings had impacted the lives of people on the ground seven thousand miles away.

Russell’s parting words put the evening into perspective. He acknowledged that he and other people in the room had lost and have been losing quite a sum of money over the past 12 months. He continued saying the circumstances do not mean they should be giving less. To paraphrase - these are the times people with resources should be giving the same as they always have and even raising the bar. In many ways Simmons challenged the audience to think deeply about what they have and how they can use it to benefit others. It is a simple message with profound implications – one that LPA has grown to embody.

There is a great video on the LPA website that I recommend watching

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