In a writing career that spans nearly 30 years, I’ve been blessed to see the spectacular work of some of the world’s finest nongovernmental organizations, or NGOS, as they’re known in the development world.
From Detroit’s Operation Get Down to Brazil’s Landless People’s Movement, from the Mothers of the Plaza Del Mayo in Argentina to the Soweto Electricity Crisis Committee in South Africa’s storied all-black township, the best NGOS have the unique ability to address people’s most basic, quotidian needs, while articulating a grandiose but still credible vision of social transformation.
No organization I’ve ever seen is more visionary, or grounded, than Building Opportunities for Self-Sufficiency, or BOSS, in the East Bay communities that orbit Oakland, California. Consider, as one example, last week’s third annual Rising Stars awards ceremony, which recognizes 20 East Bay youths who exhibit uncommon grace in meeting the challenges of homelessness, mental illness, poverty and even abandonment.
It is a recognition that for some of our young people, just getting through the day, is in itself, a triumph over fear.
Photo credit: Jon-Mychal Cox and Haku Production House