Disparity - How should we spend our money?

One of the most contentious issues about disparity in our world is what to do about it? It is a question that all QUEST participants come to face. And like most issues, there are more questions than answers.

Personal support, or community development?

It is so tempting when you have direct encounters with people who live in material poverty to offer direct assistance.

Your heart tells you to, but your mind says that it creates dependency. It gives short term relief to those in crisis, but it takes away feelings of self worth and creates powerlessness. It helps a family, but it divides a community.

An old friend told us a story of how a young man went to work in the oil fields near Vera Cruz. When he returned to his impoverished village, with his new money he built a strong adobe house among the bamboo huts. When he left for a few days, he returned to a destroyed house. The rest of the village had torn it down. The villagers also knew what disparity was, but saw it differently. Individual support fragments communities, causing destructive envy. It also changes our relationship with people, encouraging them to be dependent.

What do we suggest?

At QUEST, we have thought long and hard about our position on individual support versus community development. In the end, we decided to recommend organizations that do superb community development work such as VAMOS, in the Cuernavaca region. VAMOS currently supports over 80 community projects such as encouraging cooperatives, providing education for people of all ages, developing leadership skills in people, supporting literacy centres, conducting human rights training, helping communities dream better alternatives, providing free and accessible medical services to those who cannot afford it, and building community centres and schools.

You can find out more at http://www.vamos.org.mx/index.html

Another is Arthur Frederick Community Builders (AFCB) in Chiapas in areas such as water treatment, sewage systems, energy supply, housing, agriculture, health care, and education. They are at http://www.afcb.ca

All are established incorporated charitable organizations, and have Boards which hold them accountable.

Where does QUEST fit in?

At QUEST we try to energize and educate people. Out of that energy, if you want to help, send money to CED, VAMOS or AFCB, or send it to us and we will transfer all of it to them. You can feel secure that their money is being spent well and appropriately.

At QUEST 100% of all money donated gets transferred to Mexican community development projects, and we support others who so the same.