Monday, August 25, 2014

Bolivia Needs a Bigger Boat

Give a man a fish, feed him for a day.
Teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime.
--Chinese proverb

I've become amazed how often people refer to that famous proverb after we explain the goals and efforts of the AAVia Foundation for the Health of Bolivian Children.

Typically, we acknowledge the point and move on. But, honestly, it's never felt exactly right.

It was this year's Shark Week that helped me understand what was missing from the idea. Shark Week is an annual summer "event" when Discovery, an American cable TV station, has a week of shark-based programming.

Included in that week of programming is the classic film Jaws. The famous scene when the three protagonists are on the boat looking for the great white shark which had menaced the summer beaches completed in my mind what the AAVia Foundation is doing.

You're gonna need a bigger boat.
--Police chief Brody in "Jaws"

On that boat were three men with a lot of motivation, knowledge and experience -- a very powerful skill set for a team to possess. Nevertheless, police chief Brody, marine biologist Hooper, and grizzled old fisherman Quint were lacking one thing: a boat sufficient for the challenge of beating that shark.

And so it is for our efforts in Bolivia!

We know people with motivation, knowledge and experience working hard for children's health in Bolivia. In so many important ways, they do not need us to teach them anything -- they already know "how to fish." They also understand how great their challenges are to improve the health of Bolivian children.

What they need is a bigger boat in the form of funding and equipment that is lacking in their resource-poor environment.

And that is why we are doing what we do.

--Timothy Malia, MD
Co-founder & Vice President, AAVia Foundation for the Health of Bolivian Children
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