ChooseAneed focuses in poorest areas
Teresa Buckner, Mars Hill College
January 05, 2010

ChooseAneed focuses in poorest areas

ChooseAneed focuses in poorest areas
Teresa Buckner, Mars Hill College
January 05, 2010

In a world of overwhelming need, many people dream of making

a difference. But too often, giving to even worthy organizations seems like

throwing money into an endless well of human need and misery.

This was the sense of futility that confronted Brian and

Mary Dawson, fourth-year medical students who visited Uganda in the spring

of 2006.

“When you visit a country of great need like Uganda, you’re

the novelty, you’re the visiting person from afar, the rich ‘Muzungu’ (white

person) from the U.S., and that’s a big deal to them,” Brian Dawson said.

“People come to you and ask you for money to feed their families, to buy

medicine, to pay school fees. But when you give it to that person, you enrich

one person for one moment in time, you don’t actually make any life-altering

change, and you don’t feel like you have really made a difference at all.”

But on this particular trip, the Dawsons had the opportunity

to participate in a project which would provide food and income for the

villagers for years to come. That experience became the model for an

organization that would create change in numerous impoverished communities

around the world and provide a focus for the Dawsons’ desire to improve lives.

Now both physicians who live in Greenville, Brian and Mary

Dawson founded an international aid organization called ChooseAneed.

The organization is essentially a web site network which, in

the years since its creation, has provided more than $100,000 to projects in

nine countries and bettered the lives of countless individuals.

Crutchfield Photography

Brian and Mary Dawson, both doctors in Greenville, have helped people in nine countries through their organization ChooseAneed.

“We try to fund projects that are self-sustaining, that will

give people a chance to make an investment where the change will be

self-perpetuating,” Mary Dawson said. “We also try to support projects that are

truly life-saving or life-changing, and that impact some pretty basic needs.”

So, while Americans this Christmas made lists and checked

them twice for thousands of other extravagances, the Dawsons and the

ChooseAneed board made a wish list of another sort: a water well for a village

in Uganda, a goat project in Malawi, mosquito nets in Malaika, a housing

project in Costa Rica.

Water, food, housing, health. Life itself.

Even before their undergraduate days at Mars Hill College

Brian and Mary Dawson took numerous international short-term missions trips.

The opportunity which gave birth to ChooseAneed was a “cow

project” which would purchase and grow a herd of cattle for the Ugandan

villagers to share. Village elders had a business plan, leadership, community

investment and know-how.

They just lacked capital investment.

“When we gave the money to the cow project, we felt like we

were doing something that was more of a partnership than a rich benefactor

giving to a poor person,” Mary said. “We were meeting them as equal partners in

a project that would benefit the whole village for the future.”

Buoyed by the experience, the Dawsons created an Internet

network that has evolved into www.chooseaneed.org, where needs are posted from

around the globe so interested donors can literally choose a need and fund it.

“I don’t know how to take care of cows, or how to grow a

herd. But I do know how to help raise money,” Brian said. “So, ChooseANeed is

basically a network which puts people together. We are raising capital and

cooperating with people across the world who have the knowledge, the skills and

the leadership to make a particular project work.”

The organization is committed to funneling 100 percent of

each donor’s gift to the chosen project. Board members fund administrative


As a rule, ChooseAneed posts projects from areas which meet

the World Health Organization’s definition of extreme poverty, which is to say

that most of the community lives on less than a dollar a day.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Buckner is media relations coordinator at

Mars Hill College.)