As this blog is mostly for traveling I thought I'd add a tidbit of a program I am very proud to be a part of that does quite a bit of traveling.
You've heard of those charity trips where a group of people fly to a 'third world' country, build some wells and houses, take cool pictures with the native people, and then leave.. Right? Well if you can't tell I'm skeptical of those trips, I always have been. What happens when that group leaves? Did it really help to better the life of that indigenous community? What happens when the water filter breaks? What happens when the house falls apart? Will they be able to fix those things? Probably not, those things were built with tools they don't have and materials that aren't available.
There is a blog post about how a "white girl" stopped being a volunteer for programs because she felt she wasn't helping.. Go here for the link to that blog.
Well, when I started working at Down East Basics a few months ago I was asked if I wanted to be a contributor to a program called Choice Humanitarian. My boss told me a little about the program, enough to know I wanted to be included. What this program does is phenomenal.
Here's what they do...
Choice Humanitarian works with each community. They don't work for them, do the work, and then leave. They teach! And each community that is being considered for this program has to show that they are willing to make the changes required to take the step up from living in poverty. The other important part is that CHOICE uses tools and materials that each community is familiar with so they are able to continue helping themselves. This program spends most of its focus on teaching skills and techniques that make rural living easier. Each community learns how to build irrigation systems, shelters, water filters, and so much more. Through learning how to build them, they learn how to fix them. The community then becomes a 'self-developing' community. They can improve their own way of life and be proud that they did it and continued to do it!
There is a 5 step model of self-development that CHOICE follows.
1st: The village/community needs to be qualified. The village needs to show they are willing to put in the effort to change.
2nd: Team building. The village leaders come together to discuss a project that is the most important.
3rd: Action Plan. With help from mentors of CHOICE they plan out the best way to complete the project.
4th: Execution. They build/create/complete the project.
5th: Celebration & Learning. Celebrate the completion of the project! Help the village/community learn other tools of self-development and success!
I am not doing the program justice. But if you want to be a part of a successful team, join CHOICE Humanitarian. They do it right, they help, and their success speaks for itself.
There is the option of donating to their program and also being part of the team and becoming a mentor. Which means you get to go to the countries they are trying to help. I have a co-worker who is going to Guatemala in June with CHOICE. She, along with others, will be helping to build foundations for schools and other buildings. An amazing opportunity, and an amazing program to be a part of no matter how small your contribution!