• What can students do in a week and half?

    • A small piece of a larger project. Even with only one group and one week, there is a pretty substantial impact with a part-time-on-the-ground team. 

    • GB demonstrates the power of replicable/scalable systems.  We are hundreds of groups repeatedly going to communities over time.

    • On-the ground teams role.  Employ 100s of local staff

    • Our impact statistics speak for themselves. I.e. for every water brigade volunteer to Honduras, 4 community members received access to clean water.

 

  • Why aren’t you working here? (Meaning in Canada, US, UK, Europe) There is local poverty.

    • Why is it mutually exclusive?

    • GB’s strength is the leadership development, personal and professional growth that students go through is absolutely translatable to their future community work upon their return.

    • Students come home from our trips with a transformative experience/ different perspective that makes them more effective to work in more diverse community groups.

    • There is also an important distinction between absolute and relative poverty

    • It is important for organizations to focus.  We can’t be all things to everyone.  We can’t even be all things to the communities we’re partnering with.  We have to choose the low-hanging projects that students are good collaborators for.

 

  • How are you different than a voluntourism organization?  

    • This is a very offensive comment/category to both our community committees and the nearly 100 local technicians and GB staff that are working year-round to perpetuate projects.

    • Not to mention, very insulting to our students, who are going down with the intentions of completing health and development projects, not take a week to do a poverty tour.

    • GB puts in place dozens of measures to ensure sustainability. Please feel free to reach out to washugb@gmail.com for more information.

 

  • Why students?

    • Isolationism: the inability to share and exchange with different perspectives.  People in the developing world (especially in remote villages) often feel trapped. They cannot just get a visa to come and visit Europe or visit anywhere else for that matter.  They are limited to just the experiences and stories and best practices of local environments.  Personal growth/human growth is based on knowledge exchange.  (And students get to gain as much from the community members as the other way around), so that’s another great argument for "why students"

    • Our mission has two stakeholders. Students and Communities.  It’s our organization’s mission to empower both and create a learning exchange for both.

    • We believe in creating future leaders.

    • Our approach is a humble one.

    • Disarming.  Governments/community leaders/community members are very interested in sharing their  culture to students wanting to learn.  It is very different than coming in with just older professionals who are just there  to implement their will or ideas (classical development work).  Old white people come down to build a well, they don’t engage community, no community buy-in, they leave and no capacity to perpetuate it. 

 

  • Some students might be going down with savior mentality: I’m going to go help the poor people.

    • It’s not our values and we do everything it is our mission to transform this perspective: read mission statement and our values. Last part of mission: to change hearts and minds of participants to live in a  more equal world

    • Empowerment.  Communities are empowering our students as much as students are empowering communities.  It is a 2-way street.

    • Pre- & Post-brigade curriculum to ensure education of why we do what we do and how to do it best.

 

  • Sustainability (What if students stop coming?)

    • Very fair critique

    • Yes, we are at risk, if we don’t keep students engaged the projects will not continue

    • Importance of succession plans on campus

    • Importance of continued chapter growth

    • Importance of diversifying revenue streams

    • BUT, would bet on students passion over grant money any day of the week

 

  • Isn’t it better to send the money?

    • Search Africa example:  went to 17 different countries meant with hundreds of communities, NGOs, governments and most recurring theme is issue of isolationism. The inability to share and exchange with different perspectives.  People in the developing world (especially in remote villages) often feel trapped. They cannot just get a visa to come and visit Europe or visit anywhere else for that matter.  They are limited to just the experiences and stories and best practices of local environments.  Personal growth/human growth is based on knowledge exchange.  (And students get to gain as much from the community members as the other way around), so that’s another great argument for why students)

    • Still, if there are students that would rather contribute funds and have it go directly to Sustainable Transition Projects or Project Continuation Fund, it’s an amazing opportunity to donate to something where 100% will get to work in the communities without admin costs

    • Opportunity to directly see where your donations are going

 

  • Aren’t you doing a lot of environmental harm with having students fly

    • Yes, it is our largest negative externality.  Yes, you have to get in a plane to participate in the program.  Two years ago we had an external firm calculate how much money it would take to offset our carbon footprint.  It was calculated, but campus chairpersons voted not to pay it as they wanted to reserve those funds for water projects and community bank capitalization (STF).  In future, we can seek funding to offset carbon footprint.  AND in future, our eco-stoves and reforestation projects have strong likelihood to offset overall footprint once we scale them more.

 

  • What if you are giving out chronic medicine. And they don’t get refills?

    • We have brigades that come every three to four months

    • Most of our communities DO have some access to local doctors (hours away where they can get refills).

    • We have community health workers in a lot of communities (trying to grow it)

 

  • Is this another form of colonialism?

    • Is Global Brigades taking resources and exploiting local communities for its gain?  Absolutely not. Communities request to partner with Global Brigades and we partner with them to develop their health and development goals.

    • Empowerment: community owned banks, local committees, capacity building, all money is staying in-country not coming back to the US/Canada

 

  • Are we imposing our culture/will on them?

    • If we don’t go or critics discourage, we don’t give the communities the right to even choose their involvement. Critics are making that choice for them (isn’t that more imperialistic)?

    • Ultimately, We are providing opportunity and empowerment.  No community member is forced to participate in our projects

    • Communities are are inviting us to come.  We would never go into a community where we were not welcomed and formally invited

    • For sustainable dev projects, families must have buy-in to the project.  They are choosing to have it (whether through labor and/or their own money)

    • We believe we are addressing basic human rights. We are not proselytizing Western beliefs.  Even Microfinance Brigades, yes, we are teaching savings, but the Maya and Inca have very sophisticated savings and crop storage systems.