Missoula Food Bank, YSEALI and the Importance of the Action Plan



May 09th, 2014

We have learned and extremely inspired by the activities of the Missoula Food Bank this morning. Missoula Food Bank (www.missoulafoodbank.org) is a private, non-profit organization established in 1982 that addresses hunger in Missoula city by offering emergency food assistance to all individuals and families who come to them in need. We visited the Missoula Food Bank and we contributed our little time in some helps of packaging cereals and pet’s feed in the plastic bag. Most food is donated by the grocery stores, organizations, companies and farmers in Missoula. However, food is never enough for the demand of people which leads to the limitation of the food intake. Most people who have been severely food insecure are children and elderly people in Missoula. There are about 80-90 people come for request for food per week at the center. It was really a new and an exciting experience for all participants to learn from the Missoula Food Bank.

In the afternoon, we had a video conference with other participants from three different programs lived from Washington D.C. It was really a great chance that we were able to speak to each other and share our thoughts about all areas of interest in this exchange program in the United States. We discussed about YSEALIS (Young Southeast Asia Leaders Initiatives). YSEALI is a program that was launched in 2013 by U.S. President Barack Obama, it consists of bright young leaders aged 18-35 years from Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Burma, Philippines, Laos, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. YSEALI believes that these young leaders have innovative ideas for tackling what they have identified as their generation’s greatest challenges in the ASEAN region such as economic development, environmental protection, education, and civic engagement. Every day, these young leaders are coming up with creative solutions – like using beneficial microbes to clean rivers or creating job opportunities by selling products made from water lilies. More information about YSELAIS; go to www.youngsoutheastasianleaders.state.gov

After YSEALI, we turned to discuss about Acton Plan and Grant Proposal. Most participants understood and gained knowledge better about action plan and grant proposal development after the session by Mrs. Deena Mansour – Associate Director of the Mansfield Center. These are important tools that guide us to what we are going to achieve and how to achieve it. We started with key simple questions that what action plan mean? And why it is important? Each participant can apply for EEP Mini-Grant Fund amount from USD 500 – USD 3,000. We also can apply for YSEALI’s grant which is up to USD 10,000 per grant and the grant from the Department of State up to USD 25,000 per grant. Participants from all countries at least 2 or 3 can join a proposal together and this will result to the success in granting more than a single application.

By end of the class, I discussed with some participants from different countries about today’s program and here are some of their thoughts below:

Ms. Arunee Namamuti – Thailand, “I was impressed by the activities of the Food Bank because it really relates to my current work. I am from the department of social development and welfare, I will try to bring this idea back to my country and I will apply at my current job. Today, I learned about how to write the proposal effectively to propose for a grant. Actually, I used to know something about writing proposal and what I received from Deena today is how to develop it in a professional way”.

Ms. Vansy Senyavong – Laos, “Food Bank is a good non-profit organization. There are many volunteers who have invested their time working for these activities without any benefits. The systems and the ways that they organize are very good. There are a lot of donations and most produces that they donated are good quality. I think when I go back to LAOS, I will try to start something similar and I have noted in my action plan about this. I am interested to the system that the U.S. uses to organize these exchange programs such as EEP and YSEALI, etc. Even though we are not in the same group and we are placed in different states but we have chance to meet each other through this video conference. I want to see this program keeps going for a long run perspective”.

Ms. Mon Mon Myint Thu – Myanmar/Burma, “It was the second experience for me about for activities like Food Bank because I was in Japan I helped the homeless people to get food, so this morning reminded me and I know that I should do something about the corporate social responsibility. Before coming here, we really don’t know about YSEALI and we don’t know that we are a part of it and now we realize that we have responsibility to do as in ASEAN countries”.

Ms. Do Thi Thu Thao – Vietnam, “We don’t really have like the practice of community service like that in our country, so I would just really be glad that I could contribute like some of my time to help people in the community. Actually, I think it is a very good idea that somehow when I go back to my country I can apply it and it is a good experience. The afternoon session was really good because we had a chance to meet other participants and understand like what we supposed to do, how we could work together. This really likes putting on the action plan and we continue our collaboration and partnership when we finish the program.


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