10/21/2010 10:09 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

'D.I.Y. Foreign-Aid Revolution': Nicholas Kristof Celebrates Activists

In his recent article, "The D.I.Y. Foreign-Aid Revolution," celebrated columnist Nicholas Kristof explores how individuals have taken international aid into their own hands.

Kristof weaves together the stories of three American women, Lisa Shannon, Elizabeth Scharpf and Maggie Doyne, who each started their own charitable projects to address pressing social problems faced by women and children in developing countries.

While he applauds their efforts, he's realistic about the shortcomings of some of the projects:

In short, it's complicated. Scharpf is engaged in a noble experiment -- but entrepreneurs fail sometimes. And anybody wrestling with poverty at home or abroad learns that good intentions and hard work aren't enough.

However, according to Kristof, these small initiatives are still making a difference, while the international community turns a blind eye to the very injustices that these compassionate young women are taking up.

It's striking that the most innovative activists aren't necessarily the ones with the most resources, or the best tools... Rather, what often happens is that those best positioned to take action look the other way, and then the initiative is taken by the Scharpfs and Shannons of the world.


DIY Foreign Aid Activists

Kristof followed up his six-page article with a blog post entitled "How To Change The World," in which he lays out tips for others to get involved.

Among his suggestions are supporting the organizations started by the activists he featured and a long list of other esteemed nonprofits.

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