Preparation for Service!
We recently had a Volunteer that had to be evacuated out of service due to a personal health issue not related to the Project. It’s an example of one of the challenges that we must be at the ready to protect those in service.
Logistics when serving the poor are substantial and not an area I would recommend for someone without experience. Too often we see Church groups line up their own Projects, make their own arrangements, and then something happens that puts the entire team in a bad situation or stranded in a far away place. This is most unfortunate, it also causes many who were experiencing this type of work to shy away from it in the future.
We have addressed this major issue by having staff on the ground in all areas where our teams operate. They provided assessment of the areas of service, develop the required skills needed, and then also make sure that everything is in place to ensure a successful Project and service to the less fortunate.
One area that we see people try to cut corners is in booking air travel. Many will search for hours to try to save $30. We have addressed this by having a partner Travel Agency that specializes in this type of travel. They charge $35 over the lowest price they can find. This is the best $35 ever spent as soon as you have one blip in the trip like a cancelled flight, a storm, etc. that can cause total chaos to occur. Our travel agent takes care of the issues and we can relax. Our teams don’t need the stress and you will find the experience, even during issues, to be a pleasant one.
Another area is to be sure to follow your Project Directors as they have many years of experience and their goal is to make your trip a success. That means that if they tell you not do something, even if you think it is harmless…..don’t do it! A great example of this is when we have children come up and beg our participants for money. We all want to help, but in providing money to them, you are actually teaching them it is the way to get money. We would much rather give the money to a member of the local team and let them manage its disbursement. It will make a bigger impact and we are not contributing to a problem.
This is another reason at MMI we actually charge the poor for services. What? Yes, we charge the poor. Now, we don’t charge much, and in some cases we charge nothing if they have nothing. What we have found is that even the poorest of the poor respond to services and medical care when they are invested in the services provided. We thus don’t create a “welfare” mentality and have found that our success rate for patient directions, etc. is at 99% due to their investment in their care.
I can not describe to you how many times I have seen equipment, donations, etc. that were given to people only to see the items not even used or maintained. When the local community invests in it, they take care of it. It’s an amazing thing to see, but it is also something that has been realized from many years of experience serving the less fortunate. We are here to help the people, not cause more problems for them in the future.
Please do us all a favor, work with groups that understand what it takes to do what you want to do. You will have a better experience and God’s resources will be optimized for service!