Tuesday, June 30, 2009
The founder and president of a local non-profit speaks with us about his plans to launch a humanitarian aid program in East Africa dedicated to empowering the capable.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH (Host): I'm Maureen Cavanaugh. You're listening to These Days on KPBS. A lot of people talk about the kind of changes they'd like to see made in the world but very few do anything about it. My next guest is one of that distinct minority. Cory Glazier, a recent graduate of SDSU, traveled to Africa late last year. He was impressed by many things he saw there but deeply disturbed by others. Among the things he saw, while traveling in the village of Matoso in Kenya, was a kind of intense poverty and hunger he'd never encountered before. Instead of leaving as quickly as possible, Cory learned about the situation in Matoso, and out of that has come a new nonprofit organization dedicated not only to helping one African village but to developing new systems of bringing aid to poor areas of the world. My guest is Cory Glazier. He's president and founder of the non-profit group called SCHAP, which stands for Sustainable and Comprehensive Humanitarian Assistance Planning. And, Cory, welcome to These Days.
CORY GLAZIER (Founder, Sustainable and Comprehensive Humanitarian Assistance Planning, or SCHAP): Thank you very much. I'm very happy to be here.
CAVANAUGH: And I'd also like to invite our listeners to join the conversation. Do you think there's a new way to approach humanitarian aid efforts? What can we do to make sure donations make real change in the world? You can give us a call at 1-888-895-5727. So, Cory, tell us about that trip, the trip to Matoso in Kenya and the conditions that you found there.
GLAZIER: Well, this last December and January, I was able to spend about five weeks traveling through eastern Africa. And, as I've mentioned to several people, it was more wonderful, more incredible than you can imagine but also more disturbing than you can imagine as well. Kind of hard to wrap your mind around it. And my purpose in being there was really just to kind of see what that part of the world is like. I've been fortunate enough to take some time traveling through the Middle East and southeast Asia a little bit and I'm really pretty – have a strong desire to just kind of see how things operate in other parts besides just America. And so being out there in Kenya was definitely an eye-opener because, as you mentioned, I just graduated from San Diego State, the International Security and Conflict Resolution, so we studied a bit about poverty and about third world development but it's really something you can't really understand until you've seen it and experienced it firsthand.
CAVANAUGH: And so you went to this village and you say that actually the way the people looked was disturbing at first in the fact that there was – there's this – there was rashes on their skin and their eyes were discolored.
GLAZIER: Yeah, obviously in Kenya and other developing countries there's a large spectrum of quality of life and health. And so in Matoso was definitely on the – the more – the shier side of that spectrum in a sense that there's definitely – it was difficult to see the way the people lived. You know, you see that belly that you see in pictures…
CAVANAUGH: Distended stomach.
GLAZIER: Yeah, the distended stomach, exactly. And you saw a lot of children and adults that just you could see that in the way that they lived their lives and in their eyes and in their skin, there was just definitely like a significant amount of malnutrition there.
CAVANAUGH: And it was, as you say – I saw your website, and you say it was your first instinct to leave because you didn't want to catch any diseases and you didn't have any equipment with you to help these people. But there was an incident that happened with a sick woman that changed your mind.
GLAZIER: Yeah, I appreciate you bringing that up. My – I was traveling with a buddy of mine named Nelson, and we were kind of working our way through different villages. And when we got to Matoso, definitely our first instinct was just to get out of there because it was really, really an uncomfortable situation. And as we were kind of contemplating like how to get out of there as quickly as possible, we were just getting shown around the village a little bit and we were introduced to a woman who was pretty aged and she was blind. And through the translator we were working with, she asked us for money. And I made it a policy as we traveled not to give money away and so I kind of asked like, well, what she needed the money for. And it turned out she was asking us for money to buy malaria medication because she had malaria apparently. And so I told her I'd be happy to like go and purchase malaria medication for her but I wasn't prepared just to give her money. So we went – We kind of walked to the next village over where there's a very small and humble pharmacy and we went to go purchase the medication. I was prepared to pay twenty or thirty or forty dollars, I didn't know and didn't really care. And it turned out that it was about a dollar and fifty cents. And in that – that was the moment that really actually changed my life because I really, really understood and could wrap my mind and my hands around the fact that with a very, very, very small amount of my means, I was able to potentially save this woman's life. And that was perhaps the first moment when everything started to click on how far our efforts and our energies could go if we actually did put them in the direction of service and empowerment.
CAVANAUGH: And then you and Nelson…
CAVANAUGH: …started to think about this and work and think about all the different things that this village needed, calculating up the costs, and you were surprised by that.
GLAZIER: Yeah, I mean, I've got kind of a business background and so I've made quite a few business plans in my life. And as soon as we kind of started to think along these lines and started to look at solutions to problems as opposed to just focus on the problems themselves, we kind of put together you might even call like a business plan for the village, like what it would take for the village to kind of increase the quality of life and what the roots of their issues were as opposed to just the leaves of those issues. And as we analyzed the roots and we talked to several of the people in the village that spoke English and kind of did our best to understand how their circumstances got to the point where they are because, obviously, they haven't always been destitute out there. I mean, Africans didn't just like – African (sic) always hasn't been poor. You know, there's been some issues and political things and ecological things and economic things have led to their conditions. So as we better understood the circumstances that led to their conditions, we were able to really, really easily and almost just intuitively come to the conclusions of what would need to happen to create a sustainable change. And that's where the 'comprehensive' comes in in our – in the acronym of our name because we believe really, really strongly that you could come in and out of Matoso and you could do one thing, like you could, for example, build a school or you could bring them malaria medication or you could bring them a STD education program, but just one of those things won't really be able to impact the village in a way that's going to change their future. But if you bring over a plan and implement a multiplicity of different types of efforts then the synergistic effect of those efforts, I think and I believe, is what's needed to create really sustainable and impactful solutions.
CAVANAUGH: And how much money did you figure that it was going to take to make this comprehensive change?
GLAZIER: Yeah, well, just to highlight a couple of things real quick…
GLAZIER: I mean, we – as we were talking to you, the Chief of Matoso's name's Maurice. We were adding together the costs and those costs included to build a school, to bring solar panels and wireless internet transmitters and computers, to bring some micro loans over to develop their fishing and agricultural equipment, and a handful of other things. And with everything all put together, we calculated about $20,000.00.
CAVANAUGH: Which is amazing. Which…
GLAZIER: Yeah, I mean, it really is. I mean, we spend $20,000.00 in our society without even thinking twice, and to think that that amount of money can revolutionize and change hundreds of lives indefinitely and empower generations to come, it's kind of mindblowing.
CAVANAUGH: I'm speaking with Cory Glazier. He's President and founder of the group SCHAP, which stands for Sustainable and Comprehensive Humanitarian Assistance Planning. And I want you to tell me about the organization in a moment, Cory, but I'm also curious as to when you came up with this idea and you had this whole thing in your head, did you think about going to any of the established humanitarian organizations with it?
GLAZIER: There's probably some people that are listening to this program right now that are laughing right now and asking that question. I've kind of been pretty proactive about doing things on my own most of my life. When I was seventeen years old, my brother and I started a mobile auto detailing business. I actually dropped out of high school when I was sixteen years old because I just kind of wanted to go against the grain and do my own thing. And so it's not a – it's never really in my program to look at ways that other people have done things. Not to say that other things have or haven't been done right but I know that, you know, I know that, you know, God'll support me in the things that I really believe in and I'm passionate about and that, you know, if I pursue my own course that I'll be empowered to be able to do things perhaps in a way that have never been done before.
CAVANAUGH: So tell me about SCHAP, this nonprofit that you organized. Tell me what it's name stand – what the letters stand for, what it all means.
GLAZIER: Totally. The name SCHAP actually came as we were on a bus ride from Jinga to Kampala in Uganda. Nelson and I were talking about this organization we'd like to create and we were coming up with an acronym and I come out – came out with all kinds of stupid acronyms and finally we pinpointed SCHAP and then the first moment we heard it, we knew, and it resonated. And it stands for Sustainable Comprehensive Humanitarian Assistance and Planning. And as many have heard me say, it's more than just the name of our organization but it's the name of a new humanitarian ideology, I believe, humanitarian work that revolves around sustainable and comprehensive solutions as opposed to just giveaways. And assistance and planning, I think, are the most critical components because it's not about us just bringing in a cash donation or food, which actually is pretty easy to do. It's relatively easy to be able to drop ship some corn or some clothes or some books. But in order to be able to create lasting, stable changes, you have to kind of get your hands dirty, you have to wrap your mind and your heart around the concepts that are affecting the people. And you have to create an infrastructure in their own thinking and their own community development so that they can empower themselves, and assistance and planning are very, very important and, I believe, powerful words.
CAVANAUGH: Give us an idea – give us an example, if you would, on how SCHAP will address an issue about the poverty…
CAVANAUGH: …that you found in Matoso.
GLAZIER: Yeah. I think one kind of cool example, and we've got a handful—you can look on our website, which is www.schap.info, under projects and get a little bit more of a description of our projects. But like malaria medication and birth control are two great examples, two things that are really, really important types of medications that they'd love to be able to have more access to but what you see is, you see a cashless community trying to interface into – with a cash community. And a pharmaceutical company obviously wants to sell their products for money and if a village member doesn't have money then all of a sudden like there's a barrier there. And so we need to create bridges against those barriers, and so we were – we've been given a plot of land and one of the things we're going to go is (sic) – is work that plot of land and build a pretty large garden area. We're also, as I mentioned, building a school, and we have a – one of the guys in the village named Jerry who's going to be the administrator. We're actually going to pay him a salary for the first year to be able to run the projects after we leave. And so individuals from the community that want access to those two things, for example, the malaria medication or birth control, will be able to come and work in the garden in the farm area and exchange their hours for the medications. And then we can actually purchase, not to undermine the local economies, purchase malaria medications and birth control from some of the local pharmaceutical providers who that's their business and that's how they provide their – support their families, so we would never want to just bring in types of things to undermine their businesses. And so that time and energy can be converted to money, which we can purchase the medication for them, providing that medication, and then ultimately sell back the produce from that farm garden back into the community to be able to create a perpetual cycle of cash…
GLAZIER: …flow, which I feel will be a very effective bridge to that aforementioned barrier.
CAVANAUGH: And that's the sustainable part of what you're talking about.
GLAZIER: Exactly, yeah. And everything we're trying to do kind of has a cool sustainable twist to it.
CAVANAUGH: Right. I want to let everyone know that they can join our conversation if they'd like at 1-888-895-5727. And I, you know – SCHAP, you say on your website, you know, it's a real thing, it's a real organization, we have a lawyer. I love that part. And I wonder how it is you're actually raising funds?
GLAZIER: Well, you know, I came back from Africa basically with an idea and luckily—and I get emotional every time I think about it—I was exposed to the right people along the path that have worked day and night to help the idea to become a reality. And I owe so much to the board members and the teammates that have jumped on board and fought with a tireless effort. And so we built our organization and we’ve created a website where we're able to receive online donations, which obviously just the more awareness what we're doing facilitates more donations. But we also were able to bring over quite a large shipment of beads from Uganda. They're made actually in a refugee camp.
CAVANAUGH: Beads. Beads.
GLAZIER: Yeah, beads. Like necklaces and bracelets.
GLAZIER: So it's – I actually came across them when I was traveling through Uganda and we call them our SCHAP beads. And they've become a very, very, very popular thing. Women love jewelry. I think the fact that women love jewelry so much is – is definitely contributing to the success of SCHAP so far. And so selling those necklaces has actually been a major source for our fundraising as well as tee shirts. We had a fundraising event over at Mission Trails a month ago. We were able to raise some money. We have another fundraising event-slash-barbeque on July eleventh. The most important thing is we've been able to find some people that have been willing to contribute but we definitely have a long way to go. I mean, we need to raise about another $15,000.00 between now and August. We believe we can do it and I'm very, very grateful because I hope and believe that this radio program will contribute to helping us to find some people that have a soft spot in their heart that would like to contribute. And so it's really been kind of between private donations, merchandise sales, and we just opened up a membership program, so people can become members of SCHAP and they pay a $5, $15, or $50.00 monthly due based upon their own financial preference. And those have been our major sources to date.
CAVANAUGH: Well, you know, Cory, I think that everybody would hope in their hearts that your mission succeeds here and it's not my feeling to rain on your parade but I do want to go back to this idea of established humanitarian organizations for just a minute because it occurred to me when I'm hearing about your organization that I wonder if you have the experience in dealing with the culture and the politics of the region that, you know, these longterm organizations have, and if there is a possibility of your organization making mistakes that seasoned professionals might avoid.
GLAZIER: You know, we've – obviously, we're a young group and everybody knows that. And we've been doing our best to do our due diligence to do all the research we can. We have subcommittees that are committed to investigating each of the measures that we've proposed. I basically came back with a bunch of ideas and we've been working diligently to be able to test those ideas against other organizations' efforts, make the phone calls, have the meetings, talk to other people about what they've done, what's worked, what hasn't worked. So although there's probably a lot of other people that do have a lot more experience than us, we feel really, really confident that we're going in very well prepared. And if we do make a couple mistakes, I think those will be negligible compared to the success we'll be able to have.
CAVANAUGH: And the idea for SCHAP, one of the most intriguing parts of it, I think, is that it's – it is, of course, this summer about Matoso but it's not just about Matoso. You're trying to create something larger here.
GLAZIER: Yeah, there's no doubt about that. SCHAP was a – the idea came as a convergence of my Latter Day Saint background, my unfortunate couple of years in multi-level marketing, my international security and conflict resolution study, curriculum, in university, and an entrepreneurial background. And all those things have come together to create not only a passion for this project but a model that we believe will be able to be effective in, ultimately, an exponential growth to be able to administer projects similar to this all across the world. We've built our organization in such a way that it's 100% volunteer and it mean – that means a lot of things at the same time. One, it means that donors can feel 100% confident that it's dollar in and dollar out. A dollar that comes into our organization goes directly into our project costs. And I think that there's a lot of donors that would – or, potential donors that would love to contribute to a humantorian (sic) organization but is really, really difficult to trust where that money's going and nobody wants to be duped. And so we made that commitment. It's in our constitution, it's on our website showing that we don't collect any wages or salaries. And I run my own business to be able to support myself and I've got some other teammates who work really, really hard during the daytime so that we can work all night long on SCHAP and never have to take a salary from it. And ultimately that's allowing us to be able to position ourselves so that we can work with the funds that are given and not have to take those upon ourselves because…
MARKS: …when you – when you have a volunteer staff, you don't have paid employees, then you can grow at a quicker rate because we don't have to wait until we have funds to hire on personnel and we can bring on personnel every single week to wear hats that need to be worn in our organization and to fill positions in our organization and so that – that 100% volunteer model allows our donors to have more confidence to, hopefully, capture more donor money as well as for us to be able to continue to grow and spread our wings and – and we're actually already in the process of opening up chapters in other parts of the country right now to perpetuate what we're doing.
CAVANAUGH: Well, let's ask – let me ask you about what's coming up this summer.
CAVANAUGH: When will you be leaving to go back to Matoso?
GLAZIER: We'll be leaving August first to August seventeenth, are our travel dates.
CAVANAUGH: And how long will you be there?
GLAZIER: We'll be there for about two and a half weeks.
CAVANAUGH: Okay, and also, how many people are going with you?
GLAZIER: We're going with a team of eight and there's room for a couple more if there's someone out there that would love to get involved with a African project this summer. We could use a couple able – able and willing bodies. But we're really excited, you know. I wish I had two or three months to spend there but we all have our own limitations on what we can or can't do logistically but we feel really, really confident that in that amount of time and with everything, with the scene set – you know, I – Maurice, the chief, actually has a cell phone and so I'm able to talk to him on a fairly regular basis and we're working hard to be able to coordinate and orchestrate all of our efforts so that when we get there, we can hit the ground running, we can do all the things we committed that we were going to be able to do. And, hopefully, teach and train the people that'll be administering our programs to be able to be really, really confident and competent to make sure that our efforts don't go to the…
CAVANAUGH: And, Cory, finally I'm wondering when – what will be the sign to you that your efforts are actually succeeding?
GLAZIER: Well, when I was able to buy that woman malaria medication could've potentially saved her life. I don't know what would've happened if I hadn't. To me, that's success. And if I bring eight people out to Africa and we raise $20,000.00 and all that we're able to do is save one other person's life because we're able to provide malaria medication for a dollar and fifty cents, then I will consider that to be a success. In addition to that, we've got a plethora of other measures that we're extremely excited about. We haven't even been able to touch on our micro lending program. We haven't touched on our pollution control, our waste management program we're going to be implementing in the village, our STD education that – All of those individual efforts, I believe, are going to be – directly contribute to saving lives, increasing the quality of life, as well as opening up unimaginable doors. And so, like I said, if only one percent of one of our efforts is a success then it'll be worth it to me.
CAVANAUGH: Well, good luck, Cory. I really wish you well this summer. Thank you so much for being here.
GLAZIER: Oh, thank you so much. It was really a pleasure.
CAVANAUGH: I've been speaking with Cory Glazier. He is President and Founder of the nonprofit group called SCHAP, which stands for Sustainable and Comprehensive Humanitarian Assistance Planning. If you want to learn more about SCHAP, you can go to our website. We'll have links to Cory's organization. Our website is KPBS.org/TheseDays. Stay with us. More of These Days is ahead in just a moment.