When going on a trip like this you often get people asking you, “Why don’t you just send money down to these people instead of spending part of it on a flight and accommodations for yourself? Also aren’t you taking work away from the local people?”. Possibly at first thought you may agree, wouldn’t my money go further if I didn’t have to buy a flight and food? Am I actually taking away from these people by going down myself?
Anyone can tell you donating your money to a good cause is a great idea but until you experience what it is you are donating to, there will always be a level of doubt about your choice to give your hard earned money to people you’ve never met. This is where being “there” (wherever “there” may be”) starts to answer and change the whole question.
Think if someone were to mail you money to go out for lunch by yourself versus that same person coming to your house, knocking on your door and taking you out for lunch and paying your bill. Which do you think is going to impact your life more as the person on the receiving side? Also, as the giver which do you think is going to be more meaningful and lasting experience? So obviously having someone take time out of their life to come and do something for you, even as simple as play soccer or build a medical facility, is going to affect you in a greater way.
But wait what about those poor people and the work you are taking away from them? As North American’s it is hard for us to imagine the reality that 80% of the world is living in. We assume everyone has a nice house, a car to go here and there, extra money to buy Starbucks, but this just isn’t the case. These are people who work to afford food and not much else. They are often walking miles to get fresh water, food or to get to the main road so they can take a bus to town where these things are available. There is very little luxury in their lives. You find very quickly that you want to work but they want to help even more. By working alongside them you are showing new ways of building or even just seeing life and in no way taking away from them.
By going on trips like this with Centra, I have seen the power of being there versus just sending my money. The people, your money is helping, get to put a face and name to the help they are receiving. As well as the fact, that a person would take time out of their life, away from their family and money out of their pocket to help, gives them encouragement and value. Being there, experiencing what it looks like day to day for them, seeing all the amazing areas of strength, happiness and success they have and being able to add to that in a small way is immeasurable. These people who often don’t travel farther than their own village or possibly the next village know very little of the outside world and being able to bring part of it to them so they can move toward a life of more than just survival is a wonderful thing. We all need to feel valued in life or what’s the point in fighting through the hard times.
Organizations like La Semilla Ministries need monetary help but almost more than that need people to come share in the work and education for local communities to have long term growth in these areas. It was an honor to travel down to Nicaragua. With access to medical help many of these people will be able to live more full life and through the continued work of La Semilla Ministries they will also gain access to work and food to further their lives.