Giving Tuesday – Uweza Foundation

December 1, 2015



Today is “Giving Tuesday.”, created as an alternative to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday is a global day dedicated to celebrating generosity and giving back.  As readers of this blog are aware, I serve as on the Board of Directors of the Uweza Foundation; a charitable NGO that supports children and youth in Kibera, Kenya to attend school, participate in activities they love, realize their own capabilities, and know that they are important and deserving of support.

We recognize and appreciate how important your contributions are. Of course, before you give, it is also important to take the time to learn more about our work, why we do what we do, and how donated funds are spent.

There are so many organizations doing such important work all over the globe and I can’t thank you enough for believing in what we do and choosing to support us.  As always, please feel free to e-mail me with any ideas, suggestions, or questions about Uweza.

On behalf of the more than 1,000 children, youth, and women who have benefited from Uweza in 2015, thank you again.

Jerry Silverman, Board Member, Uweza Foundation.


Stop Trying to Save the World: Big Ideas are Destroying International Development

November 19, 2014
A close friend just yesterday forwarded an Article to me by Michael Hobbes critiquing international development efforts. I found it very thought provoking — and it is comforting to see someone put into readable words and logic much of what I myself have felt for decades now. Therefore, I think it should have wider circulation than it might otherwise receive; so here is the link and I encourage you to click and read it — Stop Trying to Save the World.
In the classes I teach here now at Armstrong State University, one of my primary messages is that all political interactions result in unintended consequences. That is so as the result of a multitude of human behaviors and environmental circumstances all interacting in ways that individually might be predictable but together are unfathomable. So one needs to pick an objective, put it out there, provide opportunities for those who share those objectives to apply them in their own idiosyncratic ways, and hope for the best — while guarding against the worst through continual assessment of “how we doing” (Mayor Koch’s measurable indicator of how “beneficiaries” thought things were working out).

I was quoted in the book “A Singular Woman” by Janny Scott to the effect that the old saw about giving/teaching a person to fish didn’t have it quite right — lots of people already knew how to fish and didn’t need us to teach them that. Instead, they don’t have access to places where they can “fish” for any number of socio-economic, political and locational reasons. Therefore, my view is that “development” — a poor term to begin with —  is more about opening access to opportunities rather than “training” or “capacity-building.” . I think Michael Hobbes’ perspective is consistent with that view.

Nelson Mandela — A Most Profound Loss

December 5, 2013

Having worked at the margins of the constitutional transition in South Africa from 1991-1994, I believe that in one way or another every person on Earth has benefitted directly or indirectly from the life and leadership of President Nelson Mandela today. His personal example, moral political leadership, and persistence  has not been paralleled by anyone during the last 40 years. He will be missed even by those who are not aware of their debt to him.

Help Change the Lives of Young Girls in One of Africa’s Largest URBAN Slums

April 24, 2013

Help the Uweza Foundation meet the “Raise for Women Challenge” sponsored by The Huffington Post, Skoll Foundation, and Half The Sky Movement by donating any amount through Crowdrise at either or . A donation is any amount whatsoever will be very much appreciated.

If you believe as I do that developing girls’ self-esteem and providing them with advanced formal education is an important contribution to breaking the cycle of poverty, please donate today. The Challenge is open for only a short period of time – from today (April 24th) to Thursday, June 6th.

The sponsors of this Challenge will donate up to an additional $25 thousand depending on the amount raised by Uweza (or other NGOs) during the short time available under the terms of this fund-raising competition.

Information, films, and photos focused on Uweza – a US tax-exempt 501(c)(3) Foundation registered in the State of Illinois – supports several “demand-responsive” programs assisting children and women in Kibera, a slum neighboring Nairobi, Kenya, is also available at either of those two websites.

Uweza has very low overheads and accomplishes an awful lot of good on an annual budget of only about $150 thousand a year. As a former World Bank staff person used to dealing in much larger sums, I cannot express how impressed I am by the due diligence, record keeping, and fundamental accomplishments of this small NGO.

In the interest of full-disclosure, I am one of only five (5) completely unpaid volunteer Uweza Board Members, the only male, and by far the oldest.

Best Wishes, Jerry

Kenya Election Results: Empowering Kenyan Girls is the Next Step for a Peaceful Kenya

April 10, 2013

As many of you know, I am on the Board of a US-based Non-Profit (the Uweza Aid Foundation) that assists women and children in Kibera, the largest “slum” — or preferably non-formal settlement — at the periphery of Naroibi, Kenya. With that in mind, I believe you will find this article  — …Empowering Kenyan Girls is the Next Step for a Peaceful Kenya both interesting and informative.

Written by fellow Uweza Board member Amy Augustin, the article focuses primarily on the need for, and results of, Uweza’s collaboration with No Means No Worldwide to provide a two-day self-defense and life skills training course to more than thirty girls at Uweza’s Kibera community center. This is an important program in the face of an epidemic of gender-based violence in non-formal settlements like Kibera throughout much of the world.

Clearly, Uweza’s work in Kibera is entirely consistent with the “demand-driven” approach advocated my blog International Development Should….

Jerry Silverman’s Holiday Gift Suggestion — Yes, It Will Make you Feel Good, Really!

December 8, 2012

I don’t often try to influence my friend’s or acquaintences gift or charitable contributions, but I was recently asked — and agreed — to join the four person Board of Director’s of the UWEZA Aid Foundation, a small USA-registered 503(c)3) non-profit registered in the State of Illinois, that supports various programs for women and children in the Kibera “slum” neighborhood near Nairobi, Kenya. Uweza has a gift catalog of hand crafted one-of-a-kind beaded bracelets made by a group of women ($8- $20) residents of Kibera and paintings by students ($40 – $55) and their Uweza art instructor Joseph Wanderi ($50-$100). Prices include free shipping and a gift card about Uweza and its programs.

The on-line catalogue can be found by clicking here for a direct connection to the Uweza website. That link will also provide tabs for additional information about “Our Work” and “About Uweza” for further information (the “about Uweza – Our Team” tab has just been redesigned a few days ago and I clearly need to send them a better picture of myself).

All money received for purchases from the “shop” are divided between the individual producer or artist and programs that directly support UWEZA programs that support women and children in Kibera, including an after-school program, soccer club, school tuition, book, and uniform scholarships, and a counseling initiative for at-risk and troubled youth based on a philosophy of providing resources to implement the local residents own ideas and initiatives as “investment” in local talent, life-skills, and emotional and psychological well being rather than as “charity.”

However, most of the revenue received to support these programs is from a narrow group of family and friends of our Founder and current Board Chair Rooney Mara — a somewhat unstable basis for ensuring the financial sustainability of Uweza’s programs and those who depend on them. So this is partly my attempt to initiate a process to increase the number of “smaller” contributions rather continuing to rely on a very few relatively large donations (however steady those large contributions have been over the last several years).

I am sending this to a short list of family, friends and acquaintances that might be interested. Please forgive me for this direct solicitation. I promise not to make a habit of it.

Happy Holidays, Jerry

Recommend — Rachel Maddow’s New Book “Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power”

March 27, 2012

My review of Rachel Maddow’s first book “Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power has just been published by the New York Journal of Books; just click on this link —

This is an interesting book that ought to be taken seriously. Unfortunately, I suspect some people will not read it just because of their attitude toward the author.

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