Kate AtwoodBy Kate Atwood

I first met Miranda Lynch at Everybody’s Pizza in the Highlands after she e-mailed me asking to have lunch to talk about her start-up nonprofit called Isipho.  While the intention of the lunch was for her to ask me about my experience starting a nonprofit organization, it quickly became more about her experience than mine.

How often do you sit across from a 14-year-old who is telling you about a life-changing volunteer trip in a far-away land and how all she wants to do is be able to make the world a little better? Anyone in my shoes would have been in awe. It all started at a school auction at which Miranda’s family won a trip to South Africa. It was ultimately a bid that would change Miranda and her entire family’s life.

Isipho is today a 501c3 not-for-profit organization that carries a mission to empower the people of Nzinga to break the cycle of poverty and dependence by giving them skills to improve their own nutrition, health, education, and the long-term viability of their community.

Isipho provides the training and tools needed so that villagers in Nzinga can begin to grow their own vegetables, reducing the stunting, birth defects, learning disabilities and illnesses brought on by severe and chronic malnutrition. Isipho also supports education programs by providing the schools with materials and teacher training, so that literacy, school attendance and graduation rates improve.

The Lynch family could have taken the trip over to South Africa, felt empathy for the people of Nzinga and left without acting further. They could have even come home and felt some compassion and simply sent money or goods to their new friends. But, instead, they decided to dedicate more time and more energy to go beyond charity and participate in what I like to call philanthropic sustainability. They are providing skills and tools to a small community that would otherwise continue a cycle of poverty and malnutrition. And because they are doing it on a scale that fits their own lifestyle, they as the providers will get to see and feel the impact first-hand, which will only allow them to sustain their philanthropic efforts over more time.

This is such a great testament to how families can come together to help other families around the world, just one small village at a time.  If you’d like to be inspired, join me and the Miranda and others on May 2 for the first annual “Celebrating Hope” dinner at the Trolley Barn in Inman Park. Nonjabulo Zuma, a villager from Nzinga, will travel from her native province for the first time in her life to come to Atlanta to speak at this event.  For more information on the event and to purchase tickets, please visit www.isipho.org.

Correction: In last month’s column, we put the wrong Web address for the Community Foundation of Greater Atlanta. The correct address is www.cfgreateratlanta.org.

Kate Atwood is the founder of Kate’s Club, an organization that provides support to youth who have lost a parent or sibling. www.katesclub.org.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.