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"I’ve done my best in this book to demonstrate what I’ve seen firsthand through my Foundation's work in Africa and around the world: that all kinds of giving can make a profoundly positive difference," said President Clinton. "The amount of good that so many individuals and NGOs (non-governmental organizations) have been able to do has proven to me that almost everyone--regardless of income, available time, age, and skills--can do something useful for others and, in the process, strengthen the fabric of our shared humanity."
GIVING highlights the work of a number of extraordinary people and organizations--some famous, as well as many private citizens whom readers will be hearing about for the first time--all of whom represent a global floodtide of nongovernmental nonprofit activity. Their remarkable stories suggest that the act of giving takes many forms, and emphasizes that offerings of time, skills, objects, and ideas can be just as important as contributions of money.
Clinton writes about the life-changing aspect of giving---of men and women who traded in their corporate careers, and the fulfillment they now experience through their new efforts and associations. He also examines, in a chapter on organizing markets for the public good, progressive companies that do good work: going green; opening markets for the under-served in disadvantaged communities; hiring people who were once on welfare; and promoting fair wages and decent working conditions for all. Clinton addresses the role of government, suggesting that when it works well, citizen service can reinforce and supplement its efforts; when it doesn’t, citizens need to harness time, money, knowledge, and skills in an effort to change, improve, or protect government policy. He outlines what we as individuals can do, the steps we can all take, how much we should consider giving, and why our giving is so important.
"Bill Clinton’s actions and deeds during his post-presidential years, both directly and through his foundation, have had an extraordinary impact on the lives of millions," said Mehta. "His new book suggests that all of us can have a profound influence on the lives of others through acts of giving. I believe this book has the power to change both our outlook and our communities, and will make a real contribution towards turning the world into a better place."
President Clinton’s previous book, My Life, was published by Knopf in 2004. It remains one of the bestselling memoirs of all time.
When they got home they founded their own NGO, the U.S.-Africa Children's Fellowship, and formed a partnership with the Zimbabwe Organization of Rural Associations for Progress, which had been working since 1980 to help improve the economy and education in individual communities.
Over the next two years, they located thirty-five U.S. schools to partner with thirty-five schools in Zimbabwe, and they've shipped four forty-foot containers to the schools, with more than 150,000 books, school supplies, toys, games, sports equipment, bicycles, clothing, sewing machines, agricultural tools, and other items. They raise funds for items needed but not donated–school uniforms, locally printed books, and educational materials and scholarships.
In the U.S. partner schools, Mark and Sheri try to give students an appreciation for what life is like for their counterparts in Zimbabwe. American kids learn that the kids in their partner school often get up at 5 a.m. to walk several miles to school, may well have nothing to eat, and may have lost one or both parents to AIDS. They also learn that many kids don't go to school at all because they can't afford the school fees, uniforms, or even a notebook and pencil; they have to work to support or stay home to care for a sick parent or younger sibling; or they don't have shoes and can't walk long distances in winter. The American children are empowered to take action—collecting donations and writing letters to the Zimbabwean students.
Mark and Sheri themselves fly to Zimbabwe as each shipment arrives and help distribute the donations to the schools. "The effects of the shipment have far exceeded anything we dreamed of" says Mark. "For the first time, students can take books home to read. Five percent of the kids in the seventh grade used to pass reading tests; now it's 60 percent. Three years ago, only one student in his district passed his A-level exams for university. This year, thirty-eight students passed. There are now art and sewing classes. Soccer flourishes because there's an abundance of soccer balls. Attendance in many kindergartens has increased threefold due to the introduction of toys. In September we'll increase the schools we partner with from thirty-five to fifty." The program has proven so successful, there's now a waiting list of three hundred schools.
Why did they do this? Mark says, "I believe that each of us has an obligation to level the playing field of life. Schools that have no books, communities without water, and people without access to medical care are not someone else's problem. We all have a capacity to make a difference somewhere. We just have to decide if we have the will to do it."
To be connected to hundreds of nonprofits and organizations doing great work, view the resources guide at www.clintonfoundation.org/giving
From the Hardcover edition.
1. In which ways are you already working to help and to give? Do you know someone who is giving their time and skills to a great cause?
2. Can you identify any problems in your own neighborhood? What steps can you take to help?
3. Identify a global problem that most troubles you. Can you think of three simple, achievable ways to make a difference?
4. Which story of giving do you find most inspiring? Why?
5. In response to Chapter Four, "Giving Things," what can you spare that can be used elsewhere?
6. What skills do you possess that might be worth sharing with someone in need?
7. What are some easy steps you’d be willling to take to reduce your energy usage or the amount of waste you produce?
8. How can your individual contribution of time or money be multiplied by judicious partnerships?
9. How did reading all of these stories of giving make you feel?
10. Now that you have read so many stories about why people give, recall that many more people choose not to give. What are some reasons not to give, and how can these reasons be surmounted?
11. What are your reasons for giving?
Posted July 25, 2009
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Posted January 22, 2010
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