Trust, Connection, and Deep Investment in Displaced Children

Lesson One: The Power of Human Connection

The lessons of this visit to Jordan — too numerous to list here in full — will linger with me for a long time. One is about human connection. The staff and community members who have opened their hearts and homes to Syrian children are heroes on the global stage. We all have much to learn from their generosity and kindness.

Lesson Two: Trust Takes Time

A second enduring lesson for me is that it makes such a difference to be able to engage with those whose lives we hope to touch. There’s a tension for sure: once we make a grant, we do not want to burden either our grantees or the intended beneficiaries of our grants. We do not want to extract work or exploit their insights for our benefit. At the same time, to the extent we seek to engage in trust-based philanthropy, we need to have meaningful relationships.

Lesson Three: Deep and Sustained Investments

A third lesson: some projects require large-scale capital, time, and trust in the grantee to make a real difference. The Syrian refugee crisis — one of the largest and most acute — has affected tens of millions of lives. As a global community, we are at risk of underinvesting in the early childhood education of millions of young people with each refugee crisis. The international community is waking up to the importance of focused, long-term investment in early childhood learning. The dividends that these types of deep and sustained investments can pay for entire regions, countries, cities, town, families, and children themselves will be felt for generations.

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