Rachel Beckwith was shocked to learn that people worldwide lacked access to clean drinking water. When she turned 9, instead of birthday presents, Beckwith asked people to donate to an organization called charity:water that drills wells in impoverished villages around the world. Beckwith aimed to raise $300 but fell short. Less than six weeks later, Beckwith was in a car accident that put her in a coma. In an attempt to show solidarity, her friends and relatives began donating on the charity:water website. Others followed. By the time Beckwith passed away, her campaign had managed to raise $1,265,823.
The book “A Path Appears: Transforming Lives, Creating Opportunity”, authored by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, begins with introducing readers to the story of Rachel Beckwith who, in her own way, contributed so significantly. Readers are further introduced to people like Dr. Gary Slutkin, founder of the Cure Violence program to combat inner city violence in the United States and Dr. Tererai Trent, who works with Save The Children to build schools.
Kristof and WuDunn explore the personal effects of altruism, the markers for success and how to avoid the pitfalls of running a charity. Through the front lines of social progress, they present a compelling, inspiring truth of how real people have changed the world, emphasizing the difference one person can make. They examine the art and science of giving, one real story at a time. It’s a much awaited roadmap.
In the book, the authors’ main focus is to encourage both the rich and the poor to join the new wave of rising altruism in the world. They address the basic skepticisms that people may have about giving and its effect on them, and how new approaches towards philanthropy are changing the dynamics of charity work. Helping others, when done as a social activity, improves people’s mental and physical health alongside extending life expectancy. This effectively explains the human yearning for a life of meaning and purpose. Altruism is a powerful source of health and happiness and is seemingly, deeply embedded in human neurochemistry.
“These stories of real people struggling for survival and opportunity serve as a powerful reminder that poverty is complex and painful, but the call to action doesn’t need to be,” said Bill and Melinda Gates, co-chairs of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation regarding the book.
“This book is a class act. Its insights and honesty touch me on the deepest of levels and inspire me to raise my game to help the poor,” said Bill Hybels, founding pastor of Willow Creek Community Church.
About the authors
Sheryl WuDunn is a business executive, lecturer and best-selling author. She graduated from Cornell University and earned an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School and an M.P.A. from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School. WuDunn lectures around the U.S. and abroad on economic, political and social topics related to women in the developing world, the global economy, China and the emerging markets. She also appeared on Fox Business News, Charlie Rose and NPR, and has discussed philanthropic issues on programs such as NBC’s Dateline.
Nicholas D. Kristof, a columnist for The New York Times since November 2001, is a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner who writes op-ed columns that appear twice a week. He graduated from Harvard College, Phi Beta Kappa, and then won a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford, where he studied law. Kristof has lived on four continents, reported on six and traveled to more than 150 countries.