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Help the people of Myanmar

Nonprofit SpotlightKay VasilakisGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

Gary Barr became involved with the International Development Enterprise (IDE-USA) nonprofit after reading about the organization in a Denver paper eight years ago. He was looking for a nonprofit that believes in the free enterprise system. He is now chairman of IDE-USA, an international nonprofit that helps the poorest people in the world earn more money and solve their health, education and other family needs. The storm in Myanmar recently killed approximately 100,000 people, and more than 1 million people are homeless. The Irrawaddy Delta, which was most impacted, provides the majority of the food for the country. IDE-USA is one of a few nonprofits authorized by the Myanmar government to work in its country. This is because the organization is not associated with any government, and has an all-Burmese staff. Barr says, “We have a large successful country operation in Myanmar (Burma). We believe we have a unique ability to actually make a difference on the ground helping small farmers restart crops and their lives. While we are not a relief organization, we have the advantage of having trained staff in place who primarily work on the main problem – lack of food and water.”

IDE-USA believes the cause of poverty is lack of money, and if people can earn money they will take care of their food, health, and education needs. The organization does not believe in giving anything away, except in emergencies such as this, and wants its help to be self-sustainable and not require more help from IDE-USA or anyone else when projects are finished.IDE helps to create favorable market conditions for the farmers by determining what crops are needed that poor farmers can successfully produce; developing an agriculture training program; and developing inexpensive technologies needed to produce the crops. Any technology bought by the farmer should be able to more than pay for itself in six months or less.Scarce water resources and/or a lack of control over water resources are obstacles facing a large majority of the farmers. Water is critical to a farmer’s ability to generate income and escape cycles of sickness and poverty.People here can become involved in a number of ways. The agency utilizes expert irrigation, agriculture, horticulture, and business volunteers; and donations are always welcome. Barr would be happy to talk to anyone wishing to help the people of Myanmar. Kay Vasilakis’ “Nonprofit Spotlight” column runs every other Wednesday in the Glenwood Springs Post Independent. She is the media coordinator for the Garfield County Human Services Commission. To contact her, call 384-9118 or e-mail kvasilakis@postindependent.com.


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