Investing in Impact

Would you invest $150,000 in an avatar?

A couple of weeks ago, I read an interesting article in the newspaper. In it, the article says that by “watching a virtual reality avatar of yourself sipping soda…with each sip, you can see your hips and waist expanding. In the space of two minutes, you can see the effects of two years of accumulated globs of fat on your body.” The author is talking about impact. What is the impact of drinking a soda every day?

I found it fascinating to then read that the cost of creating a single “two – to five – minute scenario  – the template into which individual avatars are introduced, – is about $150,000.” I thought to myself, “Would I invest $150,000 in a cartoon that looks like me and show me what would happen in two years if I drink soda every day?”

No way.   

Believe it or not, some companies are doing just that. Why? Because everyone wants to see results. In our case, our donors want to know if we are making a difference in the lives of those we serve, or, as the article says, can we show any impact?

Mark Brahier, a senior at Notre Dame University, spent part of his last summer in college researching the impact of the homes we have built for the dump dwellers in Nicaragua in the last few years. You can read more about his research in the article below. The following are just some of his findings:

1. Improvement in sleep and breathing among children, likely, the result of decreased exposure to smoke, rain, and humidity.

2. Decreased frequency of common colds in home.

3. Increased motivation and pride in children’s school work. Homes provide a better place to focus on homework.

4. Several of the children have improved their school grades according to the mothers.

5. With doors that can now lock, there is no need to stay awake at night for fear of robbers. Also has decreased the number of rapes.

6. An increase in income. Since the kids are safer at home, parents can spend more time collecting recycles.

And the list continues.

The average cost of a home built by International Samaritan is $10,000. The average household size is 6 people. With $150,000, we can build around 15 houses, which would benefit nearly 100 people.

This is where I would invest my money. In people you can see. People you can touch. People that are actually real.  It is a no brainer.

To celebrate these new homes, I would bring cans of soda to share with the families.  I know it would be one of the few opportunities they could drink soda since their average income is between $1.32 and $1.85 a day.

Many blessings,

Oscar Dussán | President

Real Homes Result in Improved Lives

Mark Brahier interviews the women at La Joya garbage dump.
At La Joya (The Jewel) garbage dump in Granada, Nicaragua, Mark Brahier interviews the workers – primarily women- during a momentary break. They sit down together at the edge of the dump and talk about the impact their new homes have on their lives and the lives of their families. When Mark asks them how their new homes have impacted their lives, one woman tells him this story:

“When the sound of rain woke me one night, my heart sank. I woke my children to help me; our belongings would soon be ruined by water flooding into our home. My son smiled and said, ‘Mom, we don’t have to do that anymore.’ At that moment I fully understood the difference this house would make on our lives. It is a blessing from God.”

Her story says it all, really.
Mark Brahier was introduced to International Samaritan during a service learning immersion to Guatemala with St. John’s Jesuit High School in 2011. Now a student at Notre Dame University, he was given the opportunity to design a field experience project. With a grant secured from the Kellogg Institute at Notre Dame, Mark studied the impact that our constructed homes had on the families in Granada, Nicaragua.
Through his interviews with the families who have received homes, it was made clear that the real homes had a profound impact on their lives. Women in the new homes slept better at night knowing their families were secure behind a locked door. With less exposure to smoke, rain, and humidity, their children’s health noticeably improved resulting in fewer doctors’ visits and money spent on medicines. In addition, the children’s motivation and performance in their schoolwork increased. Jose Potoy, the son of Yamileth who received an IS home recently, reported that he even brings friends over to his house to study.
Mark’s research also found the new homeowners’ cost-of-living decreased. Residents who formerly spent 25% of their yearly income repairing homes made of materials collected from the dump now spend far less in upkeep of their new homes.
Our President asked, “Are we showing any impact?” in his letter above. Mark’s research certainly proves that there is a positive impact on the lives of the families who received homes.

Investing in Impact

Potoy Family

Investing in Impact

Fuerte Family

Investing in impact

Angela’s Family