Posted by: universallearningcentreblog | January 12, 2012

Book for Your Buck

It’s been two years since the earthquake that wreaked havoc on what was already the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere.  Billions of dollars have been pledged (although reports indicate that less than half a billion has actually been distributed) to the nation of Haiti.  But still, an estimated half million people homeless or living in tents, facing the daily risk of cholera, hunger, assault, sexual trafficking, and many more evils than you and I can fathom.  Kathy McCullough, who spent time in Haiti after the earthquake, does a wonderful job of painting a picture in her blog today, The Haiti Earthquake’s 2 Year Anniversary.


As for me, today on this 2nd anniversary, I’m stuck on one of the questions from my post yesterday, “Your Turn!”   The question was whether you prefer investing in “band aids” or “solutions.”  I understand the desire to see something immediate.  I have that instinct myself.  I see something awful, I want to do something quickly and immediately to change it, even if that means something that is temporary.  Like providing a meal to someone without.  A solution to a belly that is hungry now, but in the long run, what does it do to alleviate the root cause?

That’s one reason working for ULC is an exercise against my nature, because ULC does not focus on “band aids” but rather on long-term solutions to the problems facing Haiti.  Sometimes I struggle with this because, while it feels great to deliver 25,000 books to establish a centre, it also frustrates me that the centre doesn’t just immediately start humming with hordes of visitors and dozens of activities for the community.

What I remind myself of everyday is that it takes time, money, and above all commitment from people who are not always naturally inclined to invest in long-term solutions that show less “bang” at the onset, but of course, people who always want to get “bang for the buck.”  ULC will never be successful at offering activities for local children, workshops for local professionals, or resources for local teachers and healthcare workers if we spend our time, money and effort on “band aids.”  A band aid cannot stop a hemorrhaging wound.  What ULC does is to offer educational resources that will have a ripple effect in ways that may not be immediately obvious, but will have an impact for generations to follow.

Students at ULC-Pilate

After the 15 questions from yesterday, I ask you one simple question today.  Do you have a dollar?  That’s what it costs us to ship a book to Ouanaminthe.  The books we were awarded from the Parliament Foundation of Quebec (all in French, which is why we can’t generally accept books from American sources) will cost us $25,000.  That may sound exorbitant, but it’s actually competitive.  The first shipment, to Pilate, we split the costs.  Now, the Parliament Foundation has begun to receive so many requests for books from across the world that they have changed their policy and no longer fund shipping.  So, to get the books they’ve committed to Ouanaminthe by July, we need to raise $25,000 now.

I’m not the best at asking for help, actually I’m horrible at it.  And I’m even less comfortable asking for money.  But I ask you this:  do you have a dollar?  That’s all I ask.  If the answer is yes, please click here to be directed to our website where you can make a donation online.

If not, do you have a garage or attic full of unwanted items?  Or a closet full of clothes you don’t wear?  If so, please contact me about hosting a small fundraiser for us.  It’s as easy as a one time, weekend yard sale or a trip to the local consignment shop.  For more ideas on how to support ULC, please check out our posts from several months ago, Guerrilla Fundraising! and Guerrilla Fundraising, Part 2 .

Your gift will touch the lives of many, and will have an impact that will outlast you and me.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart.



  1. No address…
    No way to check the official 501(c)(3) status…
    Not registered on GuideStar:

    How do we know the money is really going to those people in need?

    • Great questions, Christophe! Thanks for bringing this up. And sorry for not having this info on our blog! Rather than responding in this comment, I am going to post as a blog entry so that everyone can read your questions and our responses. Please see our most recent entry, Pointed Questions Welcome! posted 2 minutes ago 🙂

      I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your help in fleshing out some weaknesses in how we present ourselves. Thank you! PLEASE do me a favor and respond back or email me with more questions!!! If anything in my response is not clear enough or not detailed enough, PLEASE let me know! I really mean it. This has been enormously helpful and I may actually “steal” the idea for our next blog. I’d love to keep hearing from you! I hope you’ll continue following along. I was so glad to log on and see this comment this morning. I was teasing my mom the other day that she’s the only one who ever comments 🙂

  2. […] response to yesterday’s post, Book for Your Buck, I received a comment that brought some light to the need for transparency.  Thank you to that […]

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