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Saturday, May 9, 2009

Don't Do It!

Ok...now that I am home I wanted to post something about the Organization that I was a part of...I promised my mom and my best friend that I would do this...to maybe help prevent some other people going through what I did...but before I start I want to say that I had a really amazing experience in Zambia...it was super hard but worth it...I wanted to go to Africa and I wanted to work with Kids/Teens and I did that, so I was able to accomplish what I set out to do. Ok so the Organization that I went through is called Humana People to people, or in Zambia it is called Development Aide People to People. And most of the "leaders" of this group are also part of this thing called Teachers Group. It started in the 1970's (I think)...or somewhere around there. They got together and started working to get rid of Apartheid in South Africa. And when that was abolished in 1994, they started to work with other projects. So it started out with the best intentions I guess, but now all that I saw from it was corruption and huge problems. The project I was in was called TCE or Total Control of the Epidemic. It worked with HIV and AIDS education and prevention. I worked mostly with what was called Field Officers. They are employed by the project, to out into the community, to educate them, test them for HIV, set up support groups, organize community activities, work with orphans, and so on. The problem is not the field officers, they work so hard to work with the people in the community, but they get no support from the management, or the project. They get funding from CDC, UNICEF, and other huge organizations, but I never knew where that money went to. It didn't go to the people that needed it or for the purpose it was given. The 2nd to last month I was there UNICEF gave them $200,000 for Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV....Did the pregnant mother support group that they UNICEF man saw get any of that money? Oh no! I really have no idea where that money went to.
Ok so some of you might not know that I had to do "training" before I went to Zambia. I went and was "trained" for 6 months in Massachusetts at a place called IICD or The Institute for International Cooperation and Development. But the "training" was really just fundraising for the project. Now I thought the fundraising money went to the project I was going to...I mean that would make sense right...well I never saw any of the money I fund raised...which was $6000. I paid $4000 tuition and that paid for my plane ticket and my weekly "allowance". So the "headmaster" of the "school". Didn't care that I was there and all she really cared about was getting more students so they could have more money.....Oh Oh Oh...I forgot to mention that the fundraising we did was illegal. Most of the students are not from the USA and are here on Tourism Visas or Visitor Visas, Ha! So they should not be dealing with "making money" at all! Not only were they fundraising but they were working in a clothes collection project and promotion, getting more people to join the project...and getting paid for both of those jobs...Can I say ILLEGAL! Also we didn't really have permits or permission to fund raise in the places we went to...so bad bad bad. They also lied about pretty much everything they told me when they were promoting the project to me.....
Anyway, when I finally got to Zambia, I was pumped to get to work...but there was nothing for me to do....they wanted me to be the sectary, type things for them and take pictures...Not what I went there to do. So I found something myself to do. I went and taught in schools. But not having anything to do was a common thing...all of my 12 team mates had the same problem and 6 other people I talked to in Zambia. Most people quit before the 6 months because there is NOTHING FOR THEM TO DO. One girl got to her project and her project leader told her to leave because she did not want her there. Bad, bad, bad. Mean people that did not care or even notice that I was there for 6 months....So I say of all people who want to got to Africa and Volunteer....Don't do what I did. Find some other way to go! I think everyone needs to spend sometime in a 3rd world country. It really makes you grateful for all of the many blessings you have! I loved my time there but it would have been so so so much better if I went through a different organization.


Natty + Tacia said...

Hey, I don't know if you remember me from high school, but anyway, I work with Dani and found your blog through her. I love all of your stories about Africa. It's sad to hear, but unfortunately this is a common scenario.

If you ever decide to go back I might know someone who can point you in the right direction. There are also some really good humanitarian missions in S. America.