I believe the desire to help others is innate. There are so many examples of programs, organizations, communities, and even careers based on the principle of servicing other human beings. The side of this idea of “help” that doesn’t see the spotlight too often is the definition of what it means to help a population in need. Although our hearts are in the right place, and our desire to be of service is present, our actions may have an opposing effect.
To shed light on this perspective, I think an example would be beneficial.
Hurricane Mitch was among the most devastating Atlantic hurricanes to date, which formed in 1998. This storm left about 1.5 million Hondurans homeless and directly caused 2 billion dollars of damage; an economic setback of about 50 years according to the President of Honduras at that time. This presented a huge opportunity to extend a hand and provide any amount of relief to a country in need. Many US missions set out for Central America to aid in rebuilding lost homes … using resources from our own country. On average, 30,000 US dollars were spent per home built, when it would have taken approximately 3,000 US dollars to build by using Honduran resources. The Sage Journal released a study from this very incident, which showed through self reporting, Honduran’s did not show preference between homes built by North American groups versus Honduran Christian organizations. Our way isn’t always the better way.
Our hearts are in the right place, we want to help where and when we can. This example shows the equivalent importance of understanding what help means to each population you encounter. Enter a mindset where you can consider the impact of any action you take. Here’s another example, this time is theoretical –
Consider traveling to a different country, and noting there are children who walk around without shoes. You’re informed there aren’t enough shoes to go around, and the kids don’t seem to mind being barefoot. Fast-forward and you’re sitting in your home; the image of these kids creating a desire within you to help. You start a shoe drive at all of your local churches and schools, informing those who donate that these shoes will go directly to children in need. You are successful, you’ve provided shoes to these kids and they LOVE them. You’ve changed a life, the following perspective does not change that fact. What you did not foresee in this act was the business in this country that makes and sells shoes to its citizens, who will now face losses because free shoes are made available to all. What was not accounted for was the opportunity to teach citizens a new trade, and to create sustainability and revenue that can give back to the economy of that country. This is simply an alternative perspective, to show that the needs of a community may not be for face value.
Heart4Honduras works toward this goal in different ways. Whenever we can use our monetary donations to purchase necessities while in Honduras, we do. This helps to stimulate the economy in Honduras, while still providing them with things they may need (you can look forward to an upcoming post outlining exactly where our monetary donations go).
We also employ this idea by working to provide a sustainable approach to learn english. By becoming fluent in english, these children become better candidates for employment. A reliable job is essential to stay off the streets; a multifaceted approach to helping generations. To do this, we provide these children a tablet with a software comparable to Rosetta Stone. In order to be eligible for this device, these children are required to write a letter to H4H explaining why learning english is important to them, and a promise to work toward achieving their dreams. This is one of many ways H4H employs mental growth.
Like any organization, we are continuously working to do the best we can to create positive change. At times this may result in adaptation, uncomfortable change and an altered mindset. The beauty of this is that the general principle will always stay the same : to provide hope for the future of Honduras. Step out of your comfort zone today and try to look at something in a different light, growth isn’t comfortable.
Limits are self imposed. Lets create something great together.