by Delanie Golightly, 1040.com: Software Forms Tester
I had no idea what was in store for me when I went on my first out-of-country trip, or how my perspective would eventually be altered by the second one. It’s a shaky and fragile process, taking in new information that forces you to reanalyze and re-access everything you thought you knew before. Honestly though? I’ve never been happier to have my mind changed.
The first trip I was involved in, which was to Costa Rica, was a fantastic way for me to be exposed to mission work. I got to see the way people lived outside the comforts of the U.S., and thus the realities of the developing world. We handed out food and clothes, visited and loved people. Now that I’m a little older and have clearer ideals, I see that while it was a good stepping stone and I learned a lot, completely different tactics can be used to provide sustainable aid and the opportunity to thrive through partnership, education, a reasonable investment, and a little sweat equity. To really invest in lasting change and foster success is to say, “I’m not going anywhere. I care about you and YOUR success. I care about your entire life, not just the part I have to play in it.”
The more recent trip to Guatemala with the company I work for, 1040.com, and Healing Waters International radically changed my view of poverty, developing countries, and how we Americans should interact and relate to them. It showed me that there is so much more that needs doing, which, yes, tempts disheartenment. If anything, it’s a new hope (Star Wars reference not intended) that needs to be grasped by more people like you and me. Healing Waters International has a goal and I got to see it striving, working toward it, going beyond its means, claiming incredible feats. It is empowering people to own their solution – hard-working, dedicated people who are extremely capable and motivated. It’s fostering a community-centered movement that brings people together for the purpose of creating a thriving community. I am amazed at how much people can accomplish when they are united and of the same mind.
Both trips played an important role in molding my perspective, but they were so different. The initial trip exposed me to the reality of developing countries and the scarcity of resources. The second, how to successfully take steps to slowly and effectively bring about gradual, sustainable change. The path is already being beaten; it isn’t new. We don’t have to start from scratch, and that’s more than we can ask for.
When I think on all the work that still needs to be done, so much that it’s often difficult to comprehend, I’ll remember an encouraging statement made by my new friend Walter, Regional Engineer for the Americas & Guatemala for Healing Waters International:
“We have to fight the good fight and not grow weary of doing good, even though we are constantly being faced with odds and evil.”
Change a mindset, and you might be surprised by the results.