Ever felt driven to help the earthquake victiims in Haiti, or the people in Sudan or orphans in Afghanistan? But how do you do it? Where do you even start?

Friends in Action outlined four easy steps that enable even children to begin making a difference. It might take some hard thinking, but it basically follows the same process used by Greg Mortenson in the Central Asia Institute, the US Army in reconstruction projects, and many humanitarian organizations around the world.

The four-step process to leadership and humanitarian actions was outlined for elementary school students who wanted to help hurricane victims in Louisiana. Friends in Action believed that anyone can and everyone should try to make a difference. Even young kids. So, they outlined a very straightforward and powerful four-step process that even strategic planners and CEOs can benefit from.

  1. Find someone who needs help. Some may call this ‘finding your heart.’ Greg Mortenson in ‘Three Cups of Tea’ found this in a small village in the Himalayas that wanted an education for their children. He sought to provide one — he found someone who needed help. This is the heart of leadership.
  2. Ask them what they need. Don’t ask them what they want – ask them what they need. And then listen very carefully. Are they telling you what they need or what they want you to give them? There is a huge difference and people providing aid must be able to discern the difference between what someone wants and what they need. This is where you use your head in leadership, thinking though the challenges.
  3. Get a friend to help. For children, this can be your sports team, your class in school, your church, or even your parents and family. Then ask for the help. For many of us, this is the hardest part of the entire process. Greg Mortenson finds that fund-raising and asking for assistance is the hardest part of his job as the head of the CAI. Still, when he sees the results of his labor, it motivates him to ask for even more. This is where you use your hands in leadership – shaking hands, pleading for funds, and writing numerous letters and emails to inform others of the opportunity you are creating.
  4. Take action. After all the hard questions are answered, this is where the passion of the heart, the direction of the head, and the skill of the hands comes together to create opportunity for that ‘someone who needs help.’ This is the fun part. It is even more fun, knowing that it would not have happened if you had not taken on the harder work of the three prior steps.

With these four simple steps, a group of primary school students provided bottles of water for relief workers and victims of Hurricane Rita.The four steps offer a simple, but not simplistic, process that enables anyone to take action, whenever and wherever.

Have you asked yourself “who needs help?”

~Clemson Turregano

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