Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Will and the Cura team have broken ground, prepared the foundation, poured the slab and are constructing the walls of the secondary-school-in-progress. Wow!

Friday, April 20, 2012


When it comes to cinematically-compelling, life-lesson-bestowing, heartstring-tugging sports, nothing compares to fly-fishing, as far as I'm concerned.

Watching the film Norman Maclean's story inspired, for example, I marveled at the rugged beauty of Montana's rivers while learning folksy, wholesome, deceptively profound lessons about perseverance and honor and manliness.

Watching my fly-fishing brothers, too, has taught me that real-life fisher-people are generally congenial and carry a well-stocked beer cooler out on the river. Which is good, because a few cold frosty ones increase both the stamina and sense of humor required to endure what is typically a cold and buggy and, let's face it, fish-less endeavor.

Watching "Salmon Fishing in the Yemen" this week has cause me to consider an entirely different fishing-inspired revelation. If you've seen the film, maybe you think this will be a reflection on faith or authenticity or inspiration...


What hit me as I was watching this fly-fishing movie is that Ewan McGregor would be a perfect celebrity front-man for Cura Orphanage!

That is, if Cura Orphanage wanted a celebrity front-man.

Which I'm not sure it does. 

I've been thinking a lot about celebrity/charity pairings ever since I read about Trevor Nielson and his Global Philanthropy Group outfit in an article in The New Yorker recently. 

You can get a flavor of the piece here, and the gist of it is that Nielson has made a spectacularly good living for himself by pairing celebrities with philanthropic outfits, and marketing the bejeezus out of both.

As a Seattle-girl myself, I'm impressed by Nielson's credentials (with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, among others) and I wonder whether he's on to something... Certainly, my charitable work could benefit from a tweet or two from the well-connected and fabulous, couldn't it?

Nielson would likely say yes. And he's made good things happen for other organizations like mine, by matching them to the star power of celebrities who fall into one of two categories:

--those who want to use their financial and media resources to alleviate need and solve problems around the world, 


--those who see charitable work as a way to save themselves from their own (self-induced) image problems or career doldrums.

It's primarily for his work with folks in this second category that Nielson comes under quite a bit of fire. Consider this excerpt from the mailbag, in response to the Global Philanthropy Group feature:

The two decades I’ve spent working in international development have taught me that effective help, which contributes to long-term positive change, requires that philanthropists and their advisers possess a set of attributes that are sometimes hard to come by: an abundance of humility, high tolerance for uncertainty and complexity, patience in understanding context, and willingness to listen to the people who live with problems that most philanthropists encounter only occasionally.

The implication, of course, is that Hollywood isn't exactly chock-full of humble, patient, educated people who are good listeners and can meaningfully operate in environments that defy easy solutions.

Maybe not.

But maybe the model isn't completely mock-able. Maybe charitable organizations like mine need a good matchmaker who can find those intangible things that establish compatibility and who can wait long enough for the right prospect to come along.

Somebody, say, who has ridden his motorcycle down the length of Africa and can therefore clearly deal with challenge and complexity. Can embrace it, even! Somebody, say, who knows, from the character he recently played, that successful development work requires community buy-in and sequenced progress (see the movie -- it's one of the life-lessons he learns after fly-fishing a while).

I know for sure that charitable organizations all over are feeling the pinch of difficult economic times, and that charisma and credibility play an enormous role in fund-raising success. I also know that the credit for most real change goes to the people who wade in, day after day, and endure the bugs and the discomfort and patiently believe that something will come of it.

If we can get the push and pull of these two forces into equilibrium, maybe this whole celebrity/cause relationship can work?

Come on, Ewan. You're the big fish, and I'm fishin'.

*For the record, my brothers are excellent fishermen. This is also what they'll tell you, if you ask. 

Aggies for Cura!

Logan DeBry and a group of fellow students at Utah State University conducted a successful donation project that resulted in the shipment that just arrived on my doorstep... 50 customized t-shirts, 10 soccer balls, 10 frisbees and 10 jump-ropes for me to deliver to lucky Cura-kids in June.

Many thanks for your efforts, Aggies for Cura!

Friday, April 13, 2012


Our intrepid volunteer, Norman, will be showing some of his Cura photos at the upcoming SnapFlash event in LA on 28 April. Please consider attending if you can.

Norman's photos are fantastic, even though he can't take credit for all of them -- by his own admission, the Cura kids took some of the best ones!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Red Dirt

I'm here in the deep south, finding things to do while Greg's strolling the storied grounds of Augusta National Golf Club. This is the first time I have put on my trusty black flip-flops since my trip to Cura in January... and the red dirt wedged into the shoes' ridges is going walk-about with me on the less-red-but-still-beautiful dirt of Georgia.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A Taste of Cura Here at Home

A former student raises chickens in his Queen Anne (Seattle) back yard, and he brought me about a dozen of his "extras." I've been enjoying them thoroughly, in part because each tasty morsel reminds me of some of my morning meals at Cura: salted, fried, fresh eggs, straight from the coop, only steps away. I can't match Grace's frying technique, but it'll do until I get back.