A demonstration project, on the island of St. Lucia, to prove that short term volunteers like you, working with local leaders, can raise the IQ of a single village’s children — and in turn change the trajectory of an entire country.
It is possible. With enough of you, it is probable. And you will be part of something unimaginably important that will change the face of public policy, philanthropy and volunteerism, not to mention having dramatic consequences for the rest of the developing world.
A tax-deductible, working vacation that could change everything. Including you.
Your volunteer vacation to St. Lucia is tax-deductible, and you will see the success of your efforts written on the faces of the children you help. Don’t expect to be unchanged by this magic.
You will also be able to explore this beautiful Caribbean island, and you’ll be struck by the beauty of its beaches and sunsets and the marvelous Pitons. It’s truly paradise for tourists.
Like many developing countries, however, St. Lucia’s population is plagued by poverty, high unemployment and, most disastrously, a population IQ that is below average.
This is not unusual in developing countries; in fact, behavioral scientists have long wondered why developing countries tend to have lower population IQ than developed countries.
Certainly, there is extensive data linking low IQ to poor infant nutrition and hunger. But more recently, research has focused on the disease burden of countries and correlated it with population IQ.
The correlation is stunning.
On average, the greater the rate of infectious disease within a country, the lower the IQ of the country’s population. This research, combined with previous studies of malnutrition and hunger, paints a vivid picture of the triangle of challenges facing human and economic development efforts in developing countries.
And it all begins with children.
The brains of newly born children require 87% of their metabolic energy to grow and develop normally. In five-year-olds, the figure is 44%, and even in adults – where the brain is only 2% of the body’s weight – the figure is still 23% to 27%.
Obviously, any competition for the energy required for a young brain’s development would seriously hinder that development. We know that the brains of malnourished children don’t develop normally. Now we also know that parasites and harmful pathogens compete for the body’s energy, as well. Some feed on the host’s tissue directly, or actually hijack its molecular machinery to reproduce. Other parasites that live in the gut stop their host from absorbing food.
The inescapable conclusion is that this “perfect storm” of hunger, poor nutrition and persistent disease combines to produce low IQ in children in developing countries – with devastating results.
Children with low IQ are faced with never developing their innate human potential. Their lives may never be what they could have been. They are often compromised, shunted to the side and marginalized in society. Their physical as well as intellectual growth is “stunted” forever.
And their communities and countries feel the impact. Impoverished populations who are deprived of essential services, and score low on average IQ, struggle to accumulate the intellectual capital necessary to develop. To think their way out of deeply rooted problems. To improve the quality of life for their people. And the impact on the country’s GDP is immeasurable.
Net net, the cycle of poverty re-cycles. This is how low IQ in children can work to keep poor countries poor and un-developed.
Which brings us to the small island country of St. Lucia.
Experts point out that St. Lucia’s population is consistently among the poorest performers on global IQ measurements. Because the country is small and accessible, it would seem to represent an opportunity to create a dedicated effort to help young, at-risk children and assess the quantitative impact of the effort through pre- and post-IQ measurement.
If it is possible to raise the IQ of a single community on St. Lucia, it could have dramatic consequences for the rest of the country, not to mention the rest of the developing world.
Imagine the impact on a poor country whose children’s’ potential becomes – limitless.
Imagine if the effort was verifiable and empirical.
Imagine if it proved affordable and scalable.
The St. Lucia Project is just such an effort. It envisions taking imagination to reality by working through an organization with the skills and appropriate experience working in developing countries to specifically improve the lives of at-risk children.
Global Volunteers is an international non-profit organization with 30 years of experience helping at-risk children on six continents. Its goal: To help nurture and sustain the well-being of the world’s children that they might realize the full promise of their human potential.
USA Today has called Global Volunteers “The granddaddy of the volunteer vacation movement”; indeed, short-term volunteers are at the heart of the services they provide.
Volunteers help local communities provide 12 Essential Services prescribed by the United Nations for at-risk children. These services are in the areas of Hunger, Health & IQ and range from building school and household gardens, providing micronutrient supplementation, deworming and hygiene education to teaching math and science and computer literacy.
Volunteers are on the ground, in-country, looking at problems eye-to-eye and helping communities achieve success where other programs that “throw money” at social problems fail.
The strategy is deceptively simple and effective.
Global Volunteers is invited by host communities to serve and work hand-in-hand with local people under the direction of community leaders. In effect, Global Volunteers guides and teaches local communities to help themselves.
Communities that ask Global Volunteers for assistance may select the Essential Services most needed; in the case of St. Lucia, one community has asked for all 12.
Anse La Raye is situated on the coast of the Caribbean Sea and is quite poor. Overall poverty is 45%, with the highest rate of indigence on the island. Over a quarter of all poor St. Lucien children live there.
Global Volunteers has been working full time in Anse La Raye since the beginning of 2013. All 12 Essential Services will be delivered to village children through schools and community organizations, with some services extending into their homes.
The effort to deliver the services and document any changes in IQ will take at least 5 years and require over 300 volunteers per year, with each team of volunteers serving for 2 weeks. Researchers will establish a baseline IQ for children 5-9 beginning in 2013, then a follow up study in 2018.
If the effort to raise IQ in Anse La Raye is successful, it will reverberate throughout the world. It should have a dramatic effect on UN policy because it will demonstrate that short-term volunteers have a measurable impact on social change in developing countries. In fact, it is estimated that if only 1-2% of the world’s population volunteered, within a generation the 12 Essential Services could be delivered to virtually every at-risk child on earth.