Teaching People to Fish

Teaching people to fish @F-L-O-W

the book @F-L-O-W


member login

The Starfish Project @F-L-O-W

Teaching People to fish… and poverty?

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to
fish and you feed him for a lifetime. –
Chinese Proverb

Over the last
decade I’ve studied poverty by immersing myself in third world
systems around the world, to not only test my own coaching
models which I have created over 2 decades-plus of
professional coaching, but also to live the walk, not just
talk the talk.

I will admit to you that
my assumptions have shifted
about why people are poor.

the proverb is one that calls us to put in place educational
programs and training to help people climb out of poverty,
what I have discovered is
that the disadvantaged need jobs which are mostly not
available to people who don’t have education.

So, if
education is missing, it’s really difficult to "teach people
to fish."

In the process of affirming my own models of
reality and exposing myself to desperate conditions in the
process, I have realized some interesting notions about why
poverty exists — contrary to a recent interview with Bill
Gates and Mayor Bloomberg, that things are getting better and
that fewer people are in poverty!

While people in
poverty live a much different kind of poverty than people 100
years ago, the poverty has the same attributes… stress, hard
living and loss of hope, early death, malnutrition, and most
of all — loss of education possibilities.

It’s just
not true that if you want an education you can get one.

First, the people who need the education the most are the
young and they are unaware of the life without education as an

This profound truth is key and why kids drop
out of school early because the size of their worlds are too
small for them to fully comprehend the future. In some ways,
they are not programmed for the future. They are programmed
for now, and that is another hard lesson learned; only to be
paid during adulthood, raising their own kids… that have
materialized along the way.

Poverty is a stern
taskmaster and the payment is almost always financed for the
future — if you catch my meaning.

Christmas and Easter
for the past 5 years, I have
conducted a rice drive to provide needy families we support
with a sack of rice for the holiday; often because there is no
work, and what is a holiday without food, or money?

This year, we are starting a new model of "perpetual
" where we take your donation of at least $50
(the price of a 50k sack of rice in the Philippines right now)
and invest that into infrastructure to provide the 5 keys to
alleviating poverty for a few disadvantaged people.

are completing our operations center and test facility as this
drive comes to an end in April.

It will be our
living/training center to prepare MyPALs to host their own
guests in their "home" or unit we provide.

business model is designed to scaffold the 5 keys to
ending poverty
: food, shelter, medicine, income, and

If all 5 are not present, poverty tightens
its grip.

You can read more about our plan and join
our drive to create this "perpetual
rice program
" and then visit us in the
Philippines to support the goals of the program. The
Philippines is a wonderful archipelago and what is the edge of
the USA facing Southeast Asia. It’s full of American History
as well as Pilipino culture, and 7007 islands provide some of
the best recreation on the planet.

Help us get them
ready to fish, please donate $50 or
and become part of our Perpetual Rice Program on
Camotes Islands. 


To donate more than $50, please just enter multiples of $50 USD.

To learn more about the Starfish Project,
sign up below for the recordings.



From one of
Inner Circle


I have an ambiguous relationship with this
quote when I read the stories of over fishing by industrial
fish factories e.g. off Ghana’s coast (http://kivafellows.wordpress.com/2011/03/02/gone-fishing/#more-25374).
The quote implies that there is enough fish in the water to be

So today, it’s also about maintaining the
resources that give you the food. Education is about
scaffolding. It’s part of a society’s culture (what and how to
do things to live your life). It requires a personal framing
that comes from the elders, the knowledgeable, the who says
that take time and energy to pass on what they know – and also
instill the purpose of the education. I just listened to a
talk on the wireless about MOOCS (massive open online courses)
and the observation that it mostly used by the already

What I observe in the poor regions is the
sheer numerical challenge to take on such a task in a society
where 60% of the population are below 25 and whose elders are
overwhelmed with securing their own lives in conditions that
are not favorable to people (thinking of the Sahel in

I agree with what you say about poverty,
Mike. Yet, I find that your five key points are somehow
circular, but maybe we mean the same thing: food, shelter,
medicine, income and education depend on each other
reciprocally . Income can take on the form of food and shelter
or it is needed to buy food, shelter, medical care and
education. These 5 keys stand for whole lot of things in a
given context. I would be interested how they play out in your

Recently I came across the concept of
“ecovillages” which is about bringing people back to their
villages’ responsibilities; keeping them from going to the
cities by providing life sustaining conditions and
perspectives (a project in Togo:


I think you
have this element in your rice project as well.

I think
it is also important not just to create service economies that
depend on the affluent to come and spend their money (and
leave their plastic garbage) but to have an own economic base
that is rooted in the first sector. So many paradises have
been taken over by tourism where beauty is commoditized. I
feel queasy in those settings (be they in Africa, Asia or
elsewhere) with all the people hanging around you, trying to
sell stuff (all the nice handicraft!) you don’t want, because
they depend on it. I wonder whether that is a base?

These are the thoughts that went through my mind when I read
your piece.

I’ll definitely will come to the
Philippines to see this promising venture unravel and to enjoy
the sights.

Yes, great

Here’s my take, a person must supply, IMHO,
because there is no scaffolding…

There is no savings,
no government support, and that which is, is corrupt because
of the scaffolding… even the elders are corrupt in that
their elder-ship depends directly on their elder-status!

We have in large, a scale problem that will break all
systems… limits to growth, as we know it —
technology will keep this a moving target.

Life in poverty is lived as a LONG

I have tried to provide various parts
of those five and the scaffold breaks quickly because of the
conditions — at least here.

A family member’s illness
takes out the buffers and the scaffolding crumbles under the
demand of new tensions.

Even the shelter can not be
owned as everyday people mortgage their meager shelter to
save… or bury a loved one.

So the shelter must be
provided, food must be provided, medicine must be provided,
and guided education, primarily for the NEXT generation is
usually the case as the adults are less malleable!

children learn fast and well but only to the extent of the
worldview of the allowed. Kids DON’T go on field trips, to
dances, get extra tickets to attend activities and most can’t
eat well enough to study; most have to drop out to "look for"
money for the family.

These large family units are
destined for poverty, it’s a matter of "luck and time".

The bigger they get, the more generations alive, the risk
for poverty goes up exponentially.

This is one thing
about poverty that is counter intuitive in the world today…
the families don’t plan big families here but two people
making love without protection generate big families.

The Philippines is growing faster than any Asian country…
and the number of children having children is rapidly
increasing due to the conditions.

As to tourism, it’s
the natural thing… Hong Kong itself (not a model, just a
data-point), has 10 million visitors a year, Philippines has
3.5 million.

The Philippines has the potential for high
density tourism, at 100 million visitors a year.  So
while the plastic is overflowing and it’s not necessarily a
good thing to serve that many people; where are 5 billion (the
greater Pacific rim) going to go for fun when 3 billion of
them enter middle class!

If you think I’m kidding,
just hide and watch!!

So for me… life becomes urgent. 
We have 50 families and an extended group of 500 who need
rice, shelter, medicine, money, and education everyday…

There are millions we can’t touch… check the want ads!

Mother Theresa’s are wanted/needed!!

Here’s my idea
(probably) not a good one…

I have lived a
wonderful life… I owe….

I can’t do much
but carve out a few and study and scaffold them, attempting to
look through the mothers to their children and help the moms
bail out water…

If you saw them, you would have a new
appreciation for their heart…

They have no where to
turn. It’s impossible to educate them out of poverty because
those 5 pieces are missing… and they have done without for
so long… I’ve seen them buy new shoes, phones, clothes and
pawn them a week later…

There are different rules
engrained into this living… and we don’t/can’t understand

On a side note, I can’t tell you how many times I
have not seen them connect A with B…

Trust me, if you
can’t connect A to B, you are stuck running the same
algorithms over and over. You don’t learn… you tolerate, you
endure, you trust in GOD to hear your prayers… and that my
friends is your life until you die…

Along the way,
you sing a lot (badly) and dance a little, drink a little and
make love a little… and maybe, just maybe, that’s not so

Mike! This a very sober and very touching take of the world we
are in.

A person must supply

If you saw them, you would have new
appreciation for their heart…

They have nowhere to turn

I have lived a wonderful life… I

These four lines jumped at me.

help where we can and do our best – we serve life.


To donate more than $50, please just enter multiples of $50 USD.

To learn more about the Starfish Project,
sign up below for the recordings.



© Generati

More Info