Marc Gold Speaks About His 100 Friends Project
Humanitarian Discusses Helping Needy People Through Grass-Roots Charity
By Caroline O’Shea | Posted April 7, 2004
Marc Gold, humanitarian and founder of 100 Friends, a project of the Foundation for Sustainable Development, spoke at Hamilton on April 5. Gold, who travels overseas to distribute donated money directly to needy people in places such as India, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, Afghanistan, India and South Africa, shared some of the stories from his travels and talked about how his organization is able to help people with only a small grass-roots network.
Gold’s interest in foreign lands began as a child, when his father encouraged him to read National Geographics. Early on, he developed a particular interest in Asia and the Himalayan region. Gold described a dream he had as a child where he was standing on Mt. Everest looking down at people in India, and the fascination he subsequently developed with Indian history and culture. Thirty-eight years later in 1990, after having the dream again, Gold finally made his first trip to India. Besides seeing the great cities and other sights, he also saw first hand the sort of poverty that exists there. When travelling around the Himalayas, he met a woman with a simple ear infection that could be cured with amoxicillan but would kill her if left untreated. When he took her to a doctor, he found that it would only take a few dollars to get the antibiotics she needed, and only another thirty dollars to buy a hearing aid for her.
On his return home, Gold realized that with only a small amount of money, he was able to make a substantial positive change in a family’s life. Before his next trip to India, he wrote a letter to 100 friends, asking for as little as one dollar from each of them that he could bring along to help needy people he would meet. Besides giving Gold donations, the 100 friends also passed the letter around to their friends, and all together raised $2200 for the next trip. With this money, Gold went to Mother Theresa centers and pediatric units around India, setting up funds to provide basic medical care for poor children and helping strugging families in small but significant ways. He said that sometimes when he helps people, he gives them a little extra money and asks them to pass it along to someone more needy than themselves, to continue the cycle of giving. He has now made 8 trips to India, each time doing the same thing.
While the 100 Friends project began as something Gold did in the summers when he was going on vacation anyway, he said that now it has become a fun, fulfilling and interesting mission that he will continue for as long as he can. When he is no longer able to travel, he hopes that his son will carry on the project.
Gold showed a slide show of pictures from some of his many trips, telling the touching and often heart-wrenching stories of the people in the photographs. Included were pictures from his recent trip to Afghanistan, where he said the devestation he saw broke his heart as nothing has before. Since the Afghanistan trip, Gold has decided to make his project even more ambitious and public. He will be moving to Thailand next year to do direct service there.
Gold said the message he wishes to convey through talks like this one is that people should never forget that most of the world lives on less than $2 a day. At the same time, they should not forget that they can do things, even in the course of their everyday lives, that will change people’s lives.
— by Caroline O’Shea ’07[http://www.hamilton.edu/news/story/marc-gold-speaks-about-his-100-friends-project]