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IntelliTect’s Trip to Philanthropy Sites in East Africa

Seeing our Impact on Ending Gender-Based Violence Firsthand

IntelliTect takes pride in our dedication to our employees and the innovative excellence they consistently provide. Our team’s expertise and drive allow us to donate a significant portion of our profits to non-profit organizations worldwide.

This year, as a celebration of the decade of work Phil Spokas has done for IntelliTect, he and IntelliTect CEO Mark Michaelis traveled to some of our philanthropy sites combatting gender-based violence in East Africa.

Choosing to Travel to East Africa

“I chose East Africa because it provided an opportunity to see multiple different organizations and their impact,” Mark said. “We haven’t visited the field for any of these organizations in the past. As we continue to give, I wanted to understand their work better and fire our passion. As a bonus, East Africa allowed us to visit a traditional African game park and see some cool wildlife. I wanted to have some fun amidst the work and adventure.”

While it’s easier to see some of our work reflected in our local community, we value the fight against injustice in Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Rwanda equally. We strive to give freedom and eliminate poverty locally and worldwide because everyone deserves respect.

“The ownership chooses to give a significant portion of profits to organizations that invest in the most vulnerable,” Phil said. “I understood this before I relocated from Chicago to Spokane. After ten years with IntelliTect, this trip was a special opportunity to re-affirm the relocation decision my family and I made years ago.”

“This was genuinely intended as a reward,” Mark said. “In fact, employees celebrating their ten-year anniversary with IntelliTect were given a few options. They could select a bonus vacation and pay or a two-week tour with our philanthropic partners. The trip was what Phil chose.” 

Visiting with Capable in Gulu

Capable gives individuals the knowledge, resources, and skills to transition to a hopeful future. In the Gulu District of northern Uganda, Capable offers a two-year program that provides intensive agricultural training, financial and personal counseling, and spiritual support. The Capable team also acts as a broker to increase the price of crop sales for each cohort of farmers in its programs.

Mark and Phil met with three Capable groups in Gulu on the first day of their trip. Capable’s community leaders shared their stories while welcoming our IntelliTect leaders with an overwhelming celebration. Each Capable leader spoke about their area of specialization with disciplines ranging from sanitation, agriculture, and savings and loans.

The latter program had already saved 2.8 million Uganda Shilling (UGX) (a little less than $800) and transferred it into their community savings lockbox. Most contributions at the start of the program come from personal savings. The savings lockbox allows the community to begin saving and loaning out money.

Roughly 70 percent of households that enter Capable’s program successfully graduate with income levels above the poverty line. In other words, households move from fifty cents a day to approximately three dollars a day.

See Capable’s website for more information on the work they do.

Learning from World Relief in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)

World Relief Global combats extreme poverty through programs in savings, agriculture, nutrition, child development, sanitation, and education. Additionally, the humanitarian organization provides emergency assistance in communities struggling from disasters. World Relief gives community members the tools to rebuild their lives. These sustainable solutions bring hope to the most vulnerable such as women and children experiencing violence, through empowerment and education.

Although all three countries Mark and Phil visited are plagued by gender-based violence (GBV), their visit with World Relief highlighted how prevalent the issue is in the DRC. In the DRC, 33 percent of women experience gender-based violence.

IntelliTect’s philanthropy supports surgeries at a women’s health clinic in the DRC to mend injuries often caused by gender-based violence. Phil and Mark met with the doctor, who spoke about the vitality of eliminating the root cause of the operations. Unfortunately, most of the patients return to the exact situation that led them to treatment. Limited resources cause women to suffer silently until an organization like World Relief encourages them to seek medical attention.

Ending Gender-Based Violence in Goma

The following day, Mark and Phil went to the World Relief Office in Goma to discuss their various programs. Later that day, Mark and Phil met with the director of Families for Life (FFL), a subset of World Relief’s programs. FFL teaches couples the importance of mutual respect, communicating effectively regarding finances, civil weddings, and accountability, among other critical aspects of a healthy marriage.

Through FFL, Mark and Phil had the opportunity to meet with a couple who participated in five days of couple facilitator training. The couple then taught another thirty couples, using their new knowledge to run the FFL program for other couples in their community. This training helps improve family collaboration and unity by emphasizing equality and respect between spouses.

Upon reflecting on their trip, their time with World Relief at the health clinic remains the most sobering encounter Mark and Phil had, reinforcing the importance of helping all individuals facing injustice.

Check out the World Relief website for more information on the impact World Relief is making worldwide.

Meeting with GiveDirectly in Ngororero

GiveDirectly lets donors send money directly to those living in poverty. This empowers individuals to choose how best to improve their lives. Over one million families living in poverty are better equipped to raise their quality of life because of GiveDirectly. In Rwanda, where IntelliTect has donated, each household has received a little more than 800 USD in two installments a month apart.

Mark and Phil shadowed GiveDirectly’s census process in a local community. When necessary, phones and SIM cards are provided to allow mobile bank transfers by recipients. GiveDirectly encourages recipients to select which head of household assumes the role of the official recipient of the donation. If no preference is specified, GiveDirectly chooses the woman. About 60-80 percent of the time, the household selects the woman of their own volition.

The next day, Mark and Phil met with some of the specific households that IntelliTect supports through our donations. One hundred percent of the households purchased government health insurance and had electricity following receiving the assistance, showing thoughtful choices when choosing where to spend money and improve their quality of life.

Visit GiveDirectly’s website for more information on the work they’re doing.

Biggest Takeaways from our Work in East Africa

Although all of his trip will leave a lifelong impact, Phil notes that some moments stand out slightly more than others. Most significant are the site visits, “diving in” to the backstreets of the DRC, and visiting the Kigali Genocide Memorial.

“Other moments stood out, including various conversations while traveling across Africa, camping out in the bush, seeing lions and gorillas, and direct interactions with wild animals who were also my travel partners,” Phil said.

Phil’s trip helped place names and faces to the organizations IntelliTect donates to, allowing him to form connections and confirm that his work makes a difference.

“My biggest takeaway from the site visits is the genuine appreciation shown by those we are helping,” Phil said. “I felt that those we helped really appreciated the help and being treated with respect.”

Want More?

Check out Mark’s blog for a more detailed overview of Mark and Phil’s trip. If you’re curious about the other organizations we partner with, take a look at our philanthropy stories.

Written by Nicole Glidden.