CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - It doesn't take a lot of money to make a huge difference. That's what a Cape Girardeau woman learned through her work in the Philippines.
Kelly Morton is a member of the board of directors for a non-profit called Seeds of Dignity. It's a relatively new 501c3 organization based in Tennessee. It was started in 2011, but in three short years has already made a big difference in villages located in very remote, extremely impoverished areas of the Philippines.
Morton recently returned from a trip to the southern Philippines where she scouted out new projects, and checked the progress of on-going efforts.
Seeds of Dignity projects largely center around the philosophy that if you give a man a fish he eats for a day, but teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime.
"We feel that dignity is probably the one thing that is lacking the most in impoverished people, no matter where they are," said Morton. "They are cast aside, they don't feel like people care about them, and so their dignity is gone. What we try to do is plant that seed, that they are valuable, that they are worthwhile that they can do things that they maybe thought they could never do."
Kelly says earning a living builds dignity, and independence, whereas giving someone something for nothing can complicate poverty and make people dependent on outside aid. That's why in everything Seeds of dignity does, Morton says there's a component that gets those being helped involved in the process. She says Seeds of Dignity offers people a hand up and not a handout.
"Everything we do has a counterpart. We don't ever have hand outs. We have hand ups. We believe that people need help, but they're also willing to work for it. So everything we do has a counterpart."
Seeds of Dignity has established Feeding programs for children in villages where parents agree to do the cooking, serving, and cleanup. They've granted scholarships to students in villages where people are involved in livelihood projects. In those projects Seeds of Dignity will provide goats, pigs or crops to raise, to offer people a way to support their families.
"Families that did not have income prior to this now have income. Not only are they raising goats, they also have to grow the forage for the goat food," said Morton. "So we teach them how, and give them the seeds, then they plant it and go from there, so it's totally self-supporting and self-sustaining."
Other Seeds of Dignity projects include water purification efforts, programs that educate orphans thru high school and even into college, as long as they work to support the program.
The all-volunteer group has leveraged donated dollars to accomplish a lot without a single paid employee. Morton says a good portion of the funding behind the work Seeds of Dignity is doing has come from donors in Cape Girardeau.