The Do Good Program: A Letter
Posted on by Jen Bernhardt
“The destiny of world civilization depends upon providing a decent
standard of living for all mankind.” - Norman Borlaug
Each year we attend at least one international trip in partnership with HELP International to work on humanitarian projects. This effort is the cornerstone of our Do Good Program, and thanks to you, we’re able to continue this program through the proceeds of every sale.
As this year’s Do Good trip in Nepal nears, we want to participate in a conversation that has become increasingly prevalent: “voluntourism”.
Voluntourism is a term referring to a form of tourism in which (most often) a westerner visits a developing country to participate in voluntary charity work. While the term itself may not be negative, it has often been paired up with a negative connotation, particularly, “white saviorism.”
We’d like to address this issue through three topics: The HELP Model, trip length and our intentions. This blog weaves in quotes from HELP’s executive director, Suzanne Whitehead to best explain HELP International's ideologies and strategies.
The HELP Model
As mentioned, none of what we do is possible without HELP International.
HELP is an organization that was formed in 1999 as a collective effort to respond to what was, at the time, the worst natural disaster in decades. Hurricane Mitch devastated most of Central America, but hit Honduras the hardest. Initially, 46 volunteers raised funds and spent four months conducting humanitarian aid projects to recapitalize and expand local micro-credit programs. These initial projects affected the lives of an estimated 4,000 people. Today, HELP has expanded its humanitarian efforts to reach all corners of the world.
“We work to support each community with our four main areas of competency: business, education, infrastructure and public health. We strive to be culturally sensitive and co-create change by treating our partners as equals. Our projects are co-created with locals on the ground from a grassroots approach and an evaluation process completely dependent on developing real relationships with the people with whom we work. We listen first and then we act together,” said Suzanne.
For more information on HELP, please visit this page on their website which outlines their core values and history: http://help-international.org/core-values-history.
The Do Good Trip Length
While our visits only last a week at a time, HELP Intl. has operations working in these countries for months and years at a time. Volunteers joining the program are thoroughly vetted and must apply for a minimum of a four weeks stay.
We know that a week-long humanitarian effort does not immediately change the course of someone's life, however we’re there solely to support HELP Int.’s long-term ongoing efforts. In addition to this, we feel it is our duty to document for ourselves as well as share with you more about HELP .
“The inclusion of shorter length programs for each location is a rather recent development, but in order to get more exposure to certain initiatives and involve our donors more in seeing directly where their funds are going, we confidently added these programs paired with HELP’s more long-term presence on the ground,” said Suzanne.
Proof was built around the idea that “everyone has wings, some just need a little help to fly.” And by everyone deserves to fly, we mean everyone deserves to thrive.
We’re nothing but grateful for the opportunity to run a company built around helping others, to have customers that support this cause, to have an amazing partner in HELP that we can trust is doing their best in every country they operate in, and the opportunity to meet, listen and learn from individuals from all walks of life around the world.
Suzanne said it best: “We are so lucky to be a part of these people’s lives; every time someone welcomes us into their home and the personal details of their lives I feel humbled and grateful. As people bring us into the intimate needs of their lives it must always be treated as a great honor to work side by side with them.”
Thank you for joining us on our journey and for participating in this important conversation.
The Proof Family