about choice

Classroom construction in Kenya

CHOICE Humanitarian is about people. With support from our donors and partners, we connect motivated villages to resources and tools that allow villagers to change their lives. By building skills, capacities and leadership of the villagers, entire communities can break the cycle of poverty. Communities continue to move forward by defining objectives and leveraging connections.

CHOICE Humanitarian – ‘The Center for Humanitarian Outreach and Inter-Cultural Exchange’, is a strategic non-governmental agency (NGO) currently working in five countries, Kenya, Nepal, Bolivia, Guatemala and Mexico. Our overriding goal is to end extreme poverty and improve quality of life through a bottom-up, self-developing village-centered approach.

Working with a small headquarters staff, CHOICE coordinates the efforts of full-time In-Country Directors and their staffs in all project countries. CHOICE was founded in 1982 by Dr. Tim Evans and Dr. James Mayfield and is headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA.

History - Making Connections for Nearly 30 Years

CHOICE Humanitarian grew out of a partnership between two Salt Lake City residents in the early 1980s. As a young man living for two years in Peru, Timothy Evans gained a deep appreciation for the people and their culture. In 1982, after opening his Utah dental practice, Dr. Evans heard from a patient the story of a young girl living in that same region of Peru who had died needlessly after drinking contaminated water. The urgent desire to make clean water a reality for those Peruvian villagers seized him at that moment and led him to found The Andean Children’s Foundation (ACF).

CHOICE Humanitarian Founder Dr. Tim Evans (r) working with villagers in Mexico in the 1980’s

The ACF philosophy was based on “a profound newspaper clipping” Tim Evans had been given by a colleague. The article’s subject was a man named Mayfield, who asserted that international development was not about doing something for, or even with, local populations; it was about working through them, in order for the community to become “self-developing.” Later, Tim was amazed to discover that the article’s subject also lived in Salt Lake City: Professor James Mayfield of the University of Utah, a political science professor and an expert in rural development.

“Even before I met Jim, his influence was there,” said Dr. Evans about the article’s impact. Dr. Mayfield had studied village development for nearly twenty years, beginning in 1966 as a Fulbright Scholar in Egypt. He had also consulted for USAID, UNESCO, and the United Nations. After the two were introduced by a mutual friend, Dr. Mayfield accepted a seat on ACF’s Board of Directors, and Dr. Evans enrolled in several of Dr. Mayfield’s rural development courses. In 1988, CHOICE Humanitarian was incorporated as an organization which sponsored expeditions and raised money for ACF. In 1992, the two organizations merged, united by the dual mission of cultivating sustainable rural development and introducing Westerners to the opportunities of global citizenship.

Continue reading more about CHOICE's history

CHOICE Humanitarian’s Approach is Village Based

Women’s empowerment programs lead to change in the village.

CHOICE Humanitarian’s key program is the Self-Developing Village Program -- a proven process for ending extreme poverty through:
  1. Organizing: Building a foundation of trust (6-12 months). A village learns to identify its leaders, inventory its needs and assets, create a common vision, set priorities, establish committees, and define responsibilities.
  2. Mobilizing: Developing leadership capacity (years 2 -3). Villagers learn to create an action plan and carry out projects they have selected, leveraging their own resources and networking with their local governments, NGOs, and CHOICE strategic partners (expeditioners, volunteers, corporations, and others). The projects are used as tools to develop leadership skills in a “learn-by-doing” process.
  3. Institution building: Becoming self-sufficient (years 4-5) through the development of committees, Village Councils, and village-sponsored sustainable business opportunities, using the learning-by-doing model in partnership with investors and mentors, ultimately becoming integrated into national and international economies.
For a detailed description and background on the CHOICE Humanitarian model of self-development, click here.

Board of Directors
In-Country Directors
Headquarters Staff