sustainaBLISSt

To care as ONE, to act as ONE, to protect as ONE, to be ONE

Sustainability & Income Inequality: The Caravan of Care

on June 11, 2012

While discussing ‘income inequality’ might seem taboo, it is a reality that every country faces                                  and acknowledging it as facet of cultivating a more sustainable world is necessary responsibility.

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The ever-widening wealth gap in countries, including developed and developing countries                                                is reaching a critical stage. The wealthy should concern themselves with the communities                                        that facilitated their financial gains; as well as caring for the Earth itself which provided                                              the limited resources for that wealth. This situation highlights an ever-present need to                                                        facilitate positive engagement between wealthy individuals and less-endowed communities.                                       To this end, many social and charity projects have been set in motion over the years, and                                           the list now grows to include the Caravan of Care, an initiative launched by Philip McMaster.

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Organized under the McMaster Institute for Sustainable Development in Commerce,                                                the Care Caravan involves two stages of activities. The first stage is what McMaster calls                                         “an expedition to poorer communities”, in which participants are encouraged to commit                                       their own capabilities instead of just wealth to a social cause. Under guidance of a                                          relevant NGO, wealthy individuals that take part in the Caravan of Care will spend their                                        money and resources on acquiring supplies or commodities needed for specific                                                 communities. These acquired items are then be transported personally – and under                                                    protection of local authorities – in 4×4 vehicles to the target community, where the                                        participants will engage the locals in exchanges of commodities for information on                                                                indigenous culture and living conditions. Currently the Caravan of Care is still in a                                               nascent stage, having run a single pilot in Sichuan, China. The expedition involved                                                   3 main vehicles and 2 support vehicles, with a team of 16 people including                                                                  personnel from collaborating NGO, the Global Village Beijing, and was received                                                        warmly by locals. Going forward, McMaster is confident that the project will gain traction.

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Sharing is a key experience for the Caravan of Care,” says McMaster. “Participants do                                                    not give out money – they share equipment, supplies, stories and experience and learn                                                           what the actual needs are among these communities and people they engage with.”                                                  Upon returning from the expedition, the participants will be immediately interviewed on                                         their experience. This is followed by a gala event a few days later, during which the                                                exploits of the participants will be rewarded. “They will be given certificates as a sign                                               of recognition, and the videos recording their expeditions will be shown,” says McMaster.                                            “We want to create a ripple effect whereby other similarly wealthy individuals attending                                                the event will be inspired by an emotionally satisfying experience to emulate similar actions.”                                      As more individuals or entities are incentivized to join the Caravan of Care, the program can                                            be further incorporated into existing charity and social projects run by governmental and                                            non-governmental organizations as well as corporations to ensure a larger scale and greater                           efficiency!

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“The challenge now is to have wealthy individuals realize that this is an opportunity for                                            them to take actions and create a positive impact on humanity. I do not think this is a                                               difficult challenge.” At the same time, McMaster also stresses that the Caravan of Care                                                        is not just about the rich helping the poor, although that is a crucial part of the program.                                                “It is really more about helping to improve the standards of living. Hence, target communities                                       do not have to be impoverished. Rather, they have to have specific needs to address.                                                   In helping to address these needs, the program also delivers happiness.”  In this respect,                                           the Caravan of Care is consistent with the global trend of incorporating happiness as part                                          of the policy metrics in various countries, as is highlighted by China’s new 5-year plan. 

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Philip McMaster (center) shares the Symbol of the Caravan Of Care, the 3 Finger                                                    “Peace Plus One” Sustainability Salute with, from left to right: Liu Hong, Emmanuel                                             Daniel Founder and President of The Asian Banker Magazine, Sustainability Ambassador                                            Ms. Jenny Zheng Jiaoli, Mr. Gboyega Songonuga Regional Head, Africa IFC,                                                      Vincent O’Brien, Chair, ICC Banking Commission Market Intelligence Group,                                                                          at the Banking Commission Meeting & ICC Trade Finance Summit in Beijing.

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