As I write this, my youngest daughter, Trudy is on a plane for Nepal as part of a First Responder Team with her organization, World Vision.  She is a hardworking, industrious and passionate person – and she is my hero.

As hard as Trudy and her colleagues work to bring relief in a desperate situation, she knows that ultimately Nepal more than just aid. No doubt, in the wake of this crisis, Nepal needs immediate relief. The people need food in their stomachs, a place to sleep, clothes to wear, medical attention, and so much more. But in order for Nepal to overcome this crisis, not merely survive it, we must also think beyond the immediate. The Nepalese not only need someone to give them a fish right now, they need to be taught to fish for themselves and run a fishing business. The people of one of the world’s poorest countries need dignity, jobs to provide for their families, a sustainable economy and infrastructure, and the belief that there is hope.

No country in the world has ever moved from third world to first world by handouts, foreign aid and charity.  Development comes with opportunity, bootstrap hard work, the taking of risk and mentoring. Development is the long view; aid is the short view. Both have their place, but without the former, we run the risk of leaving the country worse off than it was before the earthquake, or, at best, back where it started. That is why Agora Enterprises is involved in Nepal, mentoring a new business which we hope will be sustainable, profitable and create jobs.  This type of engagement will bring Nepal out of poverty.  It will bring Nepal into the economy of the 21st century.

As I think of how my wife and I might respond to this disaster, I am thinking of donating or even investing in small business development. In the short run, I will be helping provide a job while giving dignity to a family.  In the long run I will be helping to rebuild the nation and build eternal values into a society.

As you consider the situation in Nepal and how you might help, consider how you can give time or resources to Nepal both to meet immediate needs and invest in the long-term development of this country. Let’s not allow the earthquake to be an instance where the world rallies to help in the short run but fails to continue working for permanent development once the initial shock is over. Let’s take this tragedy as an opportunity to serve the people of Nepal by not only giving them fish but also creating jobs, teaching them to fish, and empowering the people to rebuild their country to something stronger than it was before.

Even as you choose which relief agencies to donate to, remember that not all relief agencies are created equal. We encourage you to look for ones that:

  • Have a long-term view even as they offer short-term aid
  • Give work to the people of Nepal as much as possible in place of foreign volunteers
  • Utilize and support local businesses wherever possible in the rebuilding process

Also, for every dollar you send in aid to Nepal, consider matching it with a dollar toward Agora’s project in Nepal to support the growth of a local business. To do so, donate on Agora’s site and specify “Nepal” under “specific project.”

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Moyo, Dambisa. Dead Aid: Why Aid is not Working and how there is a Better Way for Africa, 2009

Lupton, Robert D.  Toxic Charity:  How Churches and Charities Hurt those they help, 2011

*Image Credit:  Jessica Lea/DFID