Thursday, April 28, 2005
World's worst blogger
I am the worlds worst blogger. I am sorry about the lack of postings lately. Class has really slammed me. I am enjoying it, but it is a lot of work. But that is no excuse for dropping the blog.

So I plan to redouble my efforts. We are currently in Lima again. We have a weekend retreat with all the other international volunteers. I am looking forward to it. Today Tricia and I also had a meeting with the national program manager about writing a new system to track the finances. It was a very good meeting and I am going to go ahead with the project. Tonight we are going to have dinner with Rosaura, the country director which is always a treat. Again, sorry for the 10 day interruption in the blog. I will do my best to prevent that from happening again.

Monday, April 18, 2005
Does welfare work?
I found this article to be very interesting. It talks about the various Government anti-poverty initiatives and while they may be good at delivering aid to poor families, they have largely failed to change the beliefs and values that lead to poverty.

The analogy that Food for the Hungry (FH) uses to describe how beliefs or worldview leads to poverty is a tree. The roots of the tree are a person's beliefs or worldview. Values, the trunk in the tree analogy, flow from these roots. One values what one believes in and vice versa. The fruit of the tree are behaviors. Behaviors flow from values. For example, in many of the indigenous communities where we work here in Pucallpa the people are very animistic and believe that spirits cause illness. So the belief in question is that illnesses are caused by things outside of ones control (spirits, curses, even bird songs). So this belief leads to devaluing preventive health. This lack of value towards health leads to behavior like drinking dirty water, no latrines, etc... Changing the beliefs may not be the most PC thing to say you are trying to do, but it is what we at FH are all about.

The article above argues for more government funding for local Faith based organizations who work to change the beliefs/values that lead to behavior that cause poverty. It gives examples of programs that work directly and personally with people to change their behaviors. This view of poverty is in marked contrast with that held by many who believe the poverty is a resource issue. People are poor because they don't have access to resources or the resources are denied to them due to an unjust society. If you believe that, then maybe government welfare programs which simply give out money to the poor make sense. They are just getting what society has denied them. I don't really buy that personally. I certainly believe that there is plenty of injustice out there. But I have seen too many instances of people overcoming these obstacles to believe that society is so unjust that the injustice is a root cause of poverty.

But the point of the article above is that this impersonal treating of the symptoms by throwing money at the poor doesn't address the root causes of poverty. I tend to agree with the conclusions of the article. Reducing poverty is a very difficult, personal, time intensive process. The people in the river communities where we work have access to FREE water purification tablets provided by the government right there in the community, but the majority don't use them. Why? They like the taste of the river water better.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005
Turkish Tailors in Knoxville
This is a very interesting article in the Wall Street Journal (may need to do a free registration) regarding one company in Knoxville recruiting and hiring tailors from Turkey rather then locating overseas. After Tricia's experience with World Relief working with refugees, it is remarkably similar to read what needs to happen to move a Turkish tailor from Turkey to Knoxville. The reason the company is hiring from Turkey is that there are no Americans to do the job. If you have time, read the article. It is really interesting.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005
Economic History
Here is an interesting page on world economic history and development. Well it might be interesting. It also might be boring.

New Classes
Sorry for the blogging hiatus. I have been really busy with the start of classes at the Refuge of Hope. I have 60 students this year, up from 40 last year. This means we had to split into 3 classes of 20. Each class is 90 minutes so I am in class from 1pm to 6pm. The bulk of the class this year are between the ages of 17 and 24. About 25% of the class are physically handicapped students that live at the Refuge. They seem like a good group of students. It is nice to start from the first day of class with them. It is also nice that my Spanish is much improved over last year. This year the students expect to be able to understand me and do which is nice. They occasionally have to ask for clarification, but normally there isn't too much of a problem. Javier, the other teacher, will not be in class Tuesdays and Thursdays starting in a couple weeks. He is teaching in the mornings these days so I will have the class to myself those days.

Friday, April 01, 2005
Gmail Invites
Anybody out there want a Gmail invite? 2GB of free storage and the best web email client out there... I still have 42 to give away.

My basketball team won the championship last night which is cool. I only got to play 5 minutes or so which was smart as we wanted to win. It was close all game long until the 4th quarter when we started making our shots and broke it open to a 10 point lead. They were by far the best team we played against. I look forward to improving my skills and playing better next year.

| gulp
I gotta get me some of this!


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