Millionaires go “barefoot” in the African villages to make a difference
Channel 4 television in the UK commissioned a series of four programmes following eight multimillionaire business people as they
travelled to a small community in rural Uganda with a mission to improve its economy with sustainable development ideas.
Despite coming from professional/technical backgrounds ranging from construction to radio, PR, weddings, pubs, IT and media, they metamorphosed into backpackers and campers, having to make do with tents, a camp fire and fetching water from a spring a mile way, as they camped out for three and a half weeks at Nykasiru in rural south-western Uganda, close to the Rwandan border.
The eight had a combined fortune £600m, and, notwithstanding, quite a few large egos. They were asked by the development organisation WorldVision to come up with projects that would help this poor community to stand on its own feet.
The village needed to move forward, rather than continuing to subsist on potatoes, a few goats and chickens, hand-outs from charities or intervention by non-government organisations. Each of the entrepreneurs in this enterprise pledged £15,000 to improve life in the village.
They were challenged to listen to what people wanted, to think about whether those projects could be sustainable, then use their expertise to get ideas off the ground, supported by the communities.
A TV crew of 53 followed the team in their efforts to effect change in a country where, generally, the speed of progress is agonisingly slow.
The construction tycoon’s project was the re-routing of water to the village school, so that children did not have to miss two hours of lessons a day in order to make a dangerous journey back and forth to the bottom of the valley with water carriers.
Two others proposed attracting tourism by earmarking £8,000 for the development of a tourist hotel to sleep up to 11 guests in a disused school building.
The IT multimillionaire ordered a new ambulance and oversaw the electrification of the local maternity unit, so that babies will no longer be born by candlelight. A cooperative of local basket-weaving women has found a buyer for their wares.
And so on…
World Vision is to be commended for highlighting the stories of people from all walks of life and all financial orientations who are committed to making a difference in the lives of others, despite the fact that when the millionaires returned after a period, some projects were up and running and sustained; unfortunately, the local authority did not pay the bill for the maternity unit, hence lights were switched off; the wrong ambulance was delivered, with no attention to maintenance and fuel for its smooth operation.
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