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What’s Next?

I highly recommend this book to all the NGOs in Guatemala who bring donors and volunteers from the US. Each and every one of them should read this book BEFORE they come. So many times we hear people say, “well, here’s how we do it,” as if our way in the US is better, without any understanding of the culture or reasons existing in Guatemala for doing things their way. Approaching situations with patience and observation before recommending is essential! The five steps of understanding outlined in this book will make EVERYONE’s experience richer and so much more valuable! I speak as one who has worked with various NGOs in Guatemala for the last 11 years, I’ve seen several come and go because of lack of understanding and a determination to “do it the right way,” which was actually the wrong way!

Author: Judy Sadlier

Building a What?

I have been volunteering in rural villages in Cambodia teaching English. A fellow volunteer was so disturbed by the conditions in the school where we were teaching, that he decided to raise a LOT of money and build a proper school for them. However, before doing this, he didn’t bother to investigate if that is what the villagers wanted or needed. So, the funds were gathered and the one room schoolhouse was built.

When he returned to the village, to check on the progress of the school, he expected a crowd on hand to thank him. But he was surprised to find the school half-built with cow shit covering the floors. He learned that the villagers were so upset by the building that they harassed the construction workers and brought in their cows to poop on the floors as an act of rebellion. They didn’t see the school as an opportunity for their children to be educated. They viewed it as a threat to having their children help them in the fields. In the end, the money was wasted. However, the villagers gained a new storage shed.

Author: Marisa Turner