PMR is not perfect. We have made mistakes along the way. Every mistake, however, is an opportunity both to learn and to teach. Below are listed principles gleaned from those learning experiences.
Sometimes Helping Hurts - Helping too much or too soon creates dependency and impedes personal and societal growth. Through years of directing mission work PMR has learned the when, how and how much of helping, thus keeping our charity from becoming toxic to those we serve.
Socialism Always Fails - The vast majority of projects implemented in developing countries are built on a socialistic model.
An Organization would, for example, go into a village and hold a seminar on how to raise chickens. After the seminar the organization would provide equipment, feed and chicks for the villagers to raise. At the end of the project, the chickens would be sold and the money divided equally among the villagers.
These types of projects always fail because they teach the wrong values and foster inequity among the participants. This results in bickering and unwillingness to work thus insuring project failure. Some work more than others and are discontent receiving the same share. Some have larger families and reason they should get more than those with smaller families. Sometimes those who are in charge pilfer from the funds before they are distributed to others, justifying their actions reasoning that they are due more.
We understand in our world that everybody working together and getting paid the same thing is not a good idea. We understand that payment based on need is a bad idea as well. Why we try to implement this type of system in a third world setting is beyond me.
PMR designs projects in a way that foment capitalistic and entrepreneurial values. Some of the ways projects like these can be modified to achieve desired goals are as follows:
1. Design individual or family based projects.
2. On projects requiring more labor, keep time charts so that income is distributed according to hours worked.
3. Fund projects in the form of micro finance where start-up loans are repaid. This maintains the integrity of project funds and insured their future availability for other families and villages.
4. Diversify projects in each village so that everyone is not doing the same thing. This contributes to the growth of local economy within the village.
5. Make sure that the projects in a given village contribute toward economic balance, bringing into the village more that it takes out.
A farming or manufacturing project causes money to flow into a village while products flow out. A store causes money to flow out of a village while products flow in. A service project causes money to circulate within a village stimulating local economy. These projects must be balanced so as not to adversely effect the economy of a village or all village businesses could fail.
Its not a Sprint, Its a Marathon - Changing the habits of individuals and villages doesn't happen overnight. It is a long term proposition. Sometimes the only way is to focus your work on children so that the next generation will live and work differently. While PMR does not advocate staying in a village for too long, we recognize that it is a mistake to predetermine a number of years that any one village will need. Works that effect permanent and lasting change are a long term commitment.
You have to be All-In Starting a project with less than what you need usually results in project failure.
Planned Failure Can Mean Success In one particular village we were approached by a group of women who wanted to do a chicken project. As with all projects we teach people to do the project on paper before doing it in real life. The women wanted to use hybrid chickens purchased from a commercial poultry producer and raise them on commercial feed. We laid out the model for the women and showed them that there would be little profit because of the expense of commercial feed, antibiotics and transportation. We suggested that they raise creole chickens instead. Creole chickens do not require commercial feed or antibiotics and they forrage for food reducing the insect and weed population. They countered that the creole chickens took 3 to 4 times longer to raise while the hybrid chickens could be sold in 4 weeks. We decided to let them learn through experience. They raised 100 chickens, sold them, and after distributing the profit decided there was not enough to compensate them for their time invested. They learned the value of projecting future outcome before jumping into a project.
Our work is directed toward those who live in small villages throughout the rainforests of Southeastern Panama and Northwestern Colombia. We have a special outreach to the Colombian Refugees who enter Panama to flee the atrocities committed by narco-terrorist groups who operate in the jungles of Colombia.