Out of Africa

August 11, 2022

by LIOR ZOREF @lior

I recently returned from a family vacation in Zanzibar, Africa.

Beyond the breathtaking landscapes, my first experience in Africa was complex.

We toured local villages and schools. It is hard to be indifferent to the poverty and many challenges of Africa. This is what a school we visited looked like.

Elementary school students are required to get good scores. Only then, they can receive a scholarship (or as they call it in Africa – a sponsor) and continue their studies.

Like many others, we also asked why there is so much poverty and what can be done to help?

In searching for answers, I came across one answer that received a high rating and reflected wisdom of the crowd on that topic: “Stop looking at us like victims,” writes a Kenyan resident who received wide acceptance inside and outside of Africa. “We are on our own journey, allow us to go through it the best way we know how to” (full answer).

Ernesto Ciroli’s wonderful and fun TED talk explained why almost all Western NGOs projects in Africa fails (link).

His main insight is that the first step is to listen to the people you’re trying to help. Instead of patronizing, help change from within, support residents who dream and want to lead a change. And above, shut-up and listen to wisdom of the local crowds. Easy to say, hard to do, especially in a place where there is still a lot of corruption.

I recently met with several NGOs who do amazing work in African. As an educator and a CEO of nonprofit who works to save at-risk youth, I see how it is almost impossible to save those who do not want to save themselves.

I don’t know how to do this in Africa, yet I think our approach at Yesh-Matsav might go in the same direction. After reaching 50,000 teenagers and over 1,000 teachers, we are starting to see change. This is why we decided to register ‘Yesh Matsav’ as a non-profit organization.

This month, we are celebrating the launch of ‘Yesh Matsav’ with a mission to lead for change in the motivation of young people who struggle in life.

In Israel, Africa and perhaps everywhere, motivation is the key to change.

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