Our team gathered recently for a two-day retreat to update our strategic plan. One of the questions we were trying to answer is what we should do in Costa Rica and smaller communities in Guatemala where we have been sending student immersion teams but do not have other elements of our model in place there.
One of our board members suggested a rule of thumb that I’d like to share with you. As we go forward, we are thinking that when we commit to working with a community, we should do so only if we have:
- a local team of people in place to lead and guide the work
- a scholarship program for children there, and
- at least one other element of our model in place, which could be any of the following:
Capital improvements (new housing, classrooms or medical clinics)
Clean water solutions
Food and nutrition support, as well as other help with basic needs
Parent empowerment programs (adult literacy, workers’ coops, or similar training)
Student immersion trips
This recommendation speaks to the value that we place on people leading the work locally, as well as the power of education and scholarships to help people out of poverty. It also gives those leaders and students the opportunity to incorporate at least one, if not more, of the other needed elements of our model in.
If we commit to this principle, it means that we are either going to have to increase our efforts in some places or to thoughtfully transition out. Many of those who travelled with us to Chinautla, Esquintla and Costa Rica receive this email. I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts. And for those who have questions or thoughts about this, I’d welcome your communication too. Please reply to this email to let me know what you think.
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