Something I often take for granted is that my experience living in a rural village in Mozambique, among the people who I was there to serve, was a life-changing experience.
Not only was it life-changing, but it gave me a unique perspective that only a select few are lucky enough to experience in their lifetimes.
Now everytime I see a cause, a movement, a development program, I evaluate it from the eyes of the recipient. Of the person whom said program is supposed to help.
Many times there are important factors that arn't taken into account that can actually do more harm in the long-run, than good.
When I was in Mozambique, the NGO that funded our hospital wanted to start gender based violence trainings for the whole community. They spent thousands of dollars training us, bringing us to the capital paying for transportation, food, and hotel-stay. And for what? My community was NOT ready for this type of training. It could actually be very dangerous for someone to go through this type of training. My community wasn't ready for this. They had other, more pressing concerns like basic food, water, and health care that THEY felt were a priority. But the trainings happened because the funders in the US wanted to have good press and show that they care about women's rights. Even though this hurt women more than it helped them.
What if instead of being donor-driven, we are truly solution-driven? We look to the community and involve them in the conversation. Instead of starting programs that look good in the media and on our websites, let's create programs that actually make a big impact for the community.
People can be too concerned with making themselves feel or look good. We need to be more concerned with making an actual impact, which often takes more time and effort. And the human condition is to find shortcuts and sometimes be lazy and take the easy way out. But the easy way out costs generations to suffer in the same way because we're just constantly treating the symptoms and not the root causes.
Let's make changes that stick! Let's take time to research charities before we donate to them. Do you actually know where your money is going? Do you know that they involve the community in their programs? Do you know that they make an actual impact? Do you know how much money goes to operations expenses? Do you know how committed an organizaiton is to a specific community or are they going to move on to a new country in the next cycle?