Visions is a global non-profit serving youth and communities through education. It works to develop self-sufficiency and leadership capacity in students, teachers, schools, and NGOs. Based in Los Angeles, California, Visions’ international volunteers frequently travel to Sri Lanka and India.
So, what sets Visions apart from other non-profits? Here’s what Visions’ Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Greg Buie had to say:
(1) Investing in the long-term instead of simply channelling money or resources
(2) Working with local organizations to develop sustainable, community-specific programming
(3) Being primarily made up of young professionals and youth committed to serving others like themselves who lack opportunities in the developing world
(4) The emphasis on leadership in shaping stronger communities
(5) Visions encourages people to see and explore the consequences of poverty, war, other hardships and what can be done to combat these challenges
Greg became interested in development work after travelling on Semester at Sea as part of his undergrad. The poverty and struggles faced by those in the countries he visited left an impact, and he was soon focusing on studying International Relations and exploring additional ways to volunteer abroad.
He spent time at orphanages in Jaffna and Trincomalee and was inspired by the perseverance of the children he met to help build Visions with his partner Meera Pathmarajah (the CEO/Founder). As CFO for Visions, Greg handles the financial, legal, organizational, and logistical matters. This includes fundraising efforts, coordinating leadership training and managing the Visions team.
Greg says he really enjoys “being around youth, because they are so full of life and optimism, and when development work is concerned, there is so much potential to help shape their minds and their futures.” In regard to Visions, he values that “Visions volunteers can be mentors for these young people, and give them knowledge, confidence, and skills to be able to take on the world and do something great with their lives.”
When asked about the most memorable youth he’s worked with, Greg shared the story of a young girl named Iswara who he met during a Visions training that he had led. She was a polio survivor, and her legs were severely disabled, which left her mostly chair-bound. During their field trip they had to walk 2 kilometres from their bus to a temple. Iswara insisted on walking on her own as long as everyone else was willing to walk at her speed.
In spite of her tiny frame and rail thin, crooked legs, she walked all the way there. Greg says “ It was probably one of the most inspiring and brave things I've ever seen anyone do in my life.” According to Greg “The irony of this story is that we were there to teach kids like her about leadership, but we found that she had taught us. She exemplified some of the highest principles of leadership that day--strength, conviction, humility, gratitude, bravery.”
TC is sponsoring a fundraiser in support of Visions on Sunday, November 13th! If you are unable to attend, you can still support the initiative of raising funds for the Third Eye Group in Sri Lanka. This group uses different forms of art to help students learn about and respect the resources and traditions of their communities. Their core mission is to empower communities from within.