Monday, September 13, 2004
what do you give a person who has nothing?
free voicemail. what an excellent concept. In the past, when i've worked with homeless populations one of the greatest problems for them is taking calls from employers. Without an address, you can't get a cellphone, and without a phone you can't get a message from an employer who may want to offer you a job. It's a problem for homeless shelters too as they don't typically have the infrastructure to support a multi-person phone system...and we all know what happens to messages on pieces of paper...but this idea - free and simple voicemail -- is one that is helping the homeless secure jobs. i love it!
Grameen bank has also started a project that gives beggers cellphones -- which they then use as "mobile phonebooths" charging for the service to local villagers wanting to make a phone call. Already they are seeing success as beggers earn money to get housing and create a successful mobile-phone-booth service.
i think these ideas are great -- because they are liberating and easy. i've always felt that true charity is one that not only gives something to an individual in need -- but provides respect in the process. But ulitmately, I've always felt that charity has to be liberating -- it should provide freedom as a component of the gift. Both of these programs embody these ideas. Paulo Freire would be proud.