November 26, 2001 - Namibia RPCVs support Deep Roots

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Headlines: Peace Corps Headlines - 2001: 11 November 2001 Peace Corps Headlines: November 26, 2001 - Namibia RPCVs support Deep Roots

By Admin1 (admin) on Monday, November 26, 2001 - 4:58 pm: Edit Post

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Deep Roots

Dear Current and Returned Volunteers—Peace Corps and Worldteach—of Namibia,

When the founding directors of Deep Roots and I were volunteering in Namibia (1998-9) we paid for dozens of learners’ school and hostel fees. Some of them had such compelling stories that the Volunteers before them had paid for their fees as well. What would happen to them after we all left? The sense of futility was overwhelming - if we paid for a child’s fees, were we really helping them or were we just raising their hopes for two years only to get them that much closer to the disappointment.

Even if we decided to help a child go to school, there were some practical constraints. Most volunteers were fresh out of school saddled with heavy debt. We were each living on less than $200 a month and every child we paid for was about a month of our living allowance. Where do you draw the line? Do you pay for the AIDS orphan and not the child who lost their parents in the war for independence? How about the child who takes care of ten younger siblings as opposed to the one who has six and is also caring for grandparents? Is it possible to pay for just one student and honestly expect the others not to find out; not to come asking for help? So then what do you do?

That’s when we started writing letters to friends and family (the people who were writing us asking what they could do for us). “Don’t send care packages,” we would write, “please just cut a check to my family. I’ll use it to fund a child’s education.” Somehow, it was hard to write that to some people and explain to them what a radical difference a few US Dollars, Sterling or Euro could make. Only a few people gave money. After pulling the funds down in Namibia, the logistics were daunting. If we were leaving one, two or three years before a child was graduating we had to find someone to leave the money with. As you all know, in a country being torn apart by HIV and suffering from increasing poverty finding someone to trust with a few years of precious school fees is no easy task.

This was when we decided to create an innovative foundation that uses the Internet, local partners and the advantage of an exchange rate to make it 100 times simpler for volunteers to facilitate the education of children. If you send one letter home to friends and family telling them about Deep Roots the rest is taken care of. They can learn about the students and Namibia on our site; they can donate online or via check and receive an IRS tax-exemption receipt; and they can ensure that their funds are going directly to the neediest children in Namibia. The vision of Deep Roots was an organization created by volunteers, run by volunteers to help the volunteers on the ground do their jobs instead of worrying about who, how many and how to pay for the children they meet. We are proud of the corporation we have created.

We are proud of the fact that we spend less than 10% of the funds received on transaction fees and other unavoidable costs. We love to point to our sophisticated website which tells our story. We feel that it is only appropriate that none of us take any form of compensation and nor do any of the professionals who help our corporation and we absolutely love it when we can secure donations from corporations and the US Embassy EDDI fund to help the kids. These are funds that would not have been released if Deep Roots, Inc., a 501(c)(3) registered corporation, did not exist. But these funds are not enough. Deep Roots is grassroots and that means you.

Deep Roots has enough funds to pay for almost 50 new scholars this year and with some volunteers having over 10 of their learners apply, we have hundreds applications this year. Of the volunteers in-country, I can tie only two or three donations directly to a current volunteer. They know who they are and I want to say thank you. But two or three is not enough. The vision of Deep Roots is that the corporation ensures funds are maximized by sending them directly to the learners’ schools, by staying in high interest US dollar accounts for as long as possible and making sure a child is funded all the way until they earn a diploma. We have created the system, it is now ready for funds to flow through it. We are completely scalable, the more funding we get the more Namibian lives we will change. But we need your help to raise those funds. That is why I am writing.

Please include a few words about Deep Roots in your letters home. Encourage people to donate. I assure you they are happy to help. It’s never been this easy, just have them go to On behalf of the students whose lives your letters will change and whose applications I am reading. Thank you in advance.

Mike Graglia

J. Michael Graglia
MA/MBA '03 - &
Founder & Chair -
212.666.6961.H 253.540.6536.F 526.W.112th.#52.NYC.10025 -> 12/01 -> 6/02

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