The virtue of generosity – karimu in Swahili – has been practiced for centuries and is a guiding principle of the small non-profit organization Karimu, which is run by volunteers: educators, business people, professionals and other ordinary citizens. They allocate their time – one of the most precious elements of human existence – to think about ways to improve the life of people living in rural areas of Tanzania without disrespecting traditions and local culture. Besides practicing generosity, Karimu also borrows it from donors like Quantaphy.
My business partner, Debbie Burns-Walton, and I owe a small company based in Santa Cruz, California, that makes dyes used in medical testing to help distinguish between positive and negative results. Quantaphy has believed in Karimu since the beginning. Debbie traveled to Tanzania in 2010 as a volunteer in Karimu´s annual trip and worked on Ufani Primary School and Ayalagaya Secondary School construction. Every year we offer a matching grant of $20,000.
In 2017 we have committed to match every donation up to $30,000. Quantaphy gives to Karimu because in this day and age it seems to be very hard to “give back” financially in a meaningful way in a world where huge chunks of donated funds are consumed by overpaid executives and out of control fundraising costs. And even when funds are finally spent for the purposes for which they were donated, they are so often spent unwisely. The efforts Karimu founders Don and Marianne have put into making a meaningful impact on the lives of people in need of assistance, in a way that will, in the end, eliminate that need, exceeds the value of our financial contribution many-fold.
All Karimu’s major projects are defined with input gathered from the villagers, local leaders and school/health representatives. As few as 15 and as many as 35 volunteers join Karimu´s annual trips, when they can get to know the villagers, understand more about the culture, make friends and work hard in the village for twelve to thirteen days.
Most important, villagers work all year round on the projects and assume responsibility for maintaining them once completed. Besides enabling sustainable solutions to problems related to poverty, this kind of commitment to partnership is crucial to Karimu for empowering and creating self-sustaining communities.
Karimu and its donors supply the necessary funding. Volunteers offer their time and expertise. Villagers provide the dream and work with Karimu to make it come true.