Interview with The Supply
You know those silly little videos you watch on JumbaFund? Well thanks to you guys watching those silly little videos, we’ve been able to raise money for the Jumba Lenana Academy! How much exactly? In the past few months we’ve raised a total of $7395 dollars!
Whhaatttt?!!! That is going directly to the school you guys helped build.
Since I’ve never really done a formal introduction with the Supply, the group that helped make our dream happen, I decided to do so! Meet my friend Eddo Kim, the founder of The Supply!
Kevin: Hey Eddo! Thanks for finding the time to sit down with us. Could you talk a bit about what The Supply does?
Eddo: The Supply (@thesupply) builds community secondary schools in urban slums to promote development and renewal. We also work to empower the slum children to ignite transformation within their slums through a human rights/service learning program called SLUMS (Student Leaders Understanding My Slums).
What is happening on the ground in these urban slum areas that makes development work like yours so pressing?
The reality is that cities are growing and as a result, urban slums are also growing. Currently 1.5 billion people live in urban slums, and that number is expected to double by 2030. These slums dwellers are denied access to basic human rights including clean water, health, sanitation, and education. Public schools are too removed and private schools are too expensive, so low-cost community schools are the preferred choice but not as widely available at the secondary level.
So grassroots empowerment and development from within the community?
Yup! We believe secondary schools and civic education are so important because secondary school degrees are the basic requirement for any local or state government position. As urban slums continue to grow, there is a need for local representation that will stand up for the slum dweller’s rights and combat the current inequitable government structure.
Sounds like you do the work of superheroes. Who’s your alter-ego and what does your costume look like? Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone.
Haha, I’m definitely not a superhero. If I were though, I’d probably be Burrito-Man. I’d just wear a burrito costume covered in cilantro-goodness. As a proud native SoCal boy, I could probably eat burritos for every meal. But yea, I’m just a regular dude who eats way too many burritos and stays up way too late to catch Lakers and Dodgers games (games end around 1:30 in the morning in the east coast).
What process do you and your staff go through with each project?
Slums are a complex area to do effective work, and we are fanatical about research, needs assessments, and evaluations. There is limited census data available in urban slums, so one of the first things we do is try to gather door-to-door household data. We investigate the psycho/socio/emotional development of a slum child, and because of the early exposure to alcoholism, sex, death, etc, we realize that these students bring with them many unique challenges when they enter the classroom so we’re constantly thinking about what type of education is effective. Lastly, once we decide on an area, we have a long vetting process to ensure that the community and school leaders are committed to long-term excellence.
What was the inspiration behind The Supply?
My motivation has been constantly evolving. Initially, it was the emotional draw from the suffering that I witnessed and the stories that I heard. However, the deeper I understood the slum crisis the more motivated I have become to seek systemic change. A few years back on my initial visit to Nairobi I met Muscort, director of the primary school in the Lenana slums. He was one of the lucky few to receive a sponsorship to college and instead of going off to the city after he graduated, he returned to his slum to open their first primary school. His story resonated with me and I was challenged to take up the same call to action. It’s been over two years now that I’ve been championing for this cause.
So, with all this work…do you ever sleep? Or will I soon have to worry about you becoming a zombie?
I’m afraid you’ll see me as a zombie within the next couple years (but hopefully a nice zombie). Working in the nonprofit space, we’re just wired to work non-stop. At the same time, the great thing about this type of work is that work never seems like work. It’s a lot of fun (I promise!) But yea, I’m still learning to balance work with my personal time.
Working with The Supply was a very special and unforgettable experience for me. What was it like for you to partner with JumbaFund?
Dude, it was awesome. I mean the basic concept itself was so revolutionary: raise money by watching entertaining videos. But, what was even cooler was the fact that our organization was able to forge such a strong relationship with you on both a professional and personal level. You truly became a partner and an ambassador for us in the work that we do. JumbaFund brought new life to our organization as we witnessed young people all over the world connecting with our slum children in Lenana, learning more about an issue, and most importantly, taking action.
How do you see YouTube and social media outlets playing a role in education and development work here in the US and internationally?
They are a blessing and a curse. We always need to be very cautious, making sure that philanthropy or development work never becomes a fad or the “cool” thing to do and we don’t see ourselves as the “saviors” of the world’s problems. There are too many sustainability issues at risk, and we can’t forget that it’s real people and children that we’re working with.
At the same time, YouTube and social media can play a powerful role in exposing injustices around this world that may not receive attention in mainstream media, giving people a voice, and connecting people to become educated on the pressing issues and problems of our time.
What’s next for The Supply?
Through your support, we were able to finish the secondary school project in the Lenana slums (Jumba Lenana Academy). We are moving to our second phase: training and development for our S.L.U.M.S. Program in Lenana. We will also be starting the first phase of construction for the very first secondary school in a different slum in Nairobi called Matopeni.
What do you suggest to young people out there who want to get involved in or start a non-profit and make an impact in the world?
Two words: DO IT! Today’s culture reeks of “to-become.” We gloss over the urgency of today and cling to the optimism of tomorrow. Giving, getting involved in nonprofits, and making an impact in the world is no exception. Our implicit logic screams at us: “I don’t make six-figures yet, but when I do one day, I’m going to give. OR, I have this crazy idea that’s going to end global poverty one day, but I have to establish myself first, so for now I’ll keep it in my side pocket.” We need to shift our “to become” thinking to “to be.” I want to challenge young people to see giving as a re-identification of who we are today, acting as a critical component of defining how we shape our world instead of diminishing giving and making impact as a potential and possibility sometime in the future. I think JumbaFund represents this “to be” idea pretty well, that our actions today, whether small or big, can make a huge impact.
Who’s your favorite comedian of all time?
KevJumba. Hands down. Dave Chappelle is a close second.
There you have it! Eddo is a superhero, I beat Dave Chapelle for best comedian, and you guys have left a legacy through the Jumba Lenana Academy!
Eddo Kim (@eddokim) is the founder and president of The Supply (www.thesupply.org), a nonprofit organization that is building low-cost private secondary schools in slums worldwide and designing an innovative human rights service-learning curriculum to empower the slum children to fight for their citizen’s rights and to understand their democratic responsibilities in correcting their community’s plights. The Supply, headquartered in NYC, is currently conducting work in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya. Combining passion with a thirst for research, Eddo holds steadfastly onto the belief that these informal settlements have the potential to be thriving urban spaces in the 21st Century. Eddo, a native Southern Californian, received his bachelors from the University of Pennsylvania, M.A. in Education Leadership at Columbia University, and Ed.M. in International Education Policy from Harvard. At the age of 28, Eddo is recognized as one of today’s leading, young social designers.