Message from DIR’s Founder and CEO
Welcome to new DIR website, and a special welcome to the readers who are visiting to see photos and read stories of what their donations have allowed us to accomplish. “But wait” interrupts the reader who understands how we function, “While there were multiple accomplishments where you work, DIR didn’t achieve even one of them.” Of course, the observation is correct, and the point is a significant one because it calls attention to perhaps the most important characteristic that distinguishes DIR from other international development organizations.
Our study of “development” and how it occurs led us, long ago, to be convinced that it happens only from within. No country has yet become developed because of outside intervention. Communities have become developed, but only through their own actions, and the many trillions of dollars shipped to “developing countries” may have afforded some temporary relief from suffering, but made zero development impact.
So, is this strictly a “hands off” issue for the well-advised foreigner? Clearly the answer is “No.” While we cannot bring about development overseas, we certainly can facilitate it. In fact, that is what DIR has done and continues to do. In our slum, we are equipping the residents with the knowledge and skills necessary to solve their own problems, and that is exactly what they are doing, and are achieving accomplishments commonly attributed to DIR.
That these are the achievements of the local people is most important. When the residents reduced the death rate of babies to one-fifth of what it was, they first needed to learn and practice improved health behaviour, and when they did this and saw the result, a transformation took place, and those people are never likely to revert to earlier behavior. This kind of permanent improvement is simply impossible for the outsider.
Another accomplishment of our slum residents that I would have earlier dismissed as impossible, is that they have reduced the percentage of children under the age of 60 months who were malnourished from 87% to less than 21%. That this should have occurred while families continue to regale us with stories about how much less they are spending on food since adopting DIR recipes, confirms the important fact that this malnourishment results not from poverty but from information deficit.
So see our photos and read our stories, and always bear in mind the improvements achieved are not only low-cost, but permanent, because they result from our developing indigenous resources.
That said, we must return to the reality that people in these disadvantaged communities lack the financial resources needed to run a program such as DIR’s. And also remember that the accomplishments in Janta Colony are minute in relation to the challenges in slums across India and other parts of the developing world. DIR is keen to replicate this success in other areas, and for this reason has launched a on-line fundraising initiative through the Global Giving website.
I thank you personally for your interest in the helping Indian people change their own futures.
W. Frederick Shaw, DrPH, MPH
Founder and CEO, Developing Indigenous Resources
Improving health, education and income through the efforts of local people.