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17032: Corbett replies to jhudicourt: 17031: jhudicourt: Re: 17029: Labrom: 17018 - Database for visitors (fwd)

From: Bob Corbett <corbetre@pop.webster.edu>

From: JHUDICOURTB@aol.com

Hudicourt concludes:

  So the missions are not economically a benefit for Haiti except as


Corbett replies.  I think this argument is GROSSLY flawed and misses so
much of the real experience.

In the years when I led group trips to Haiti (1983-1995) I took 30 groups
and more than 500 people to Haiti on these trips which I called
"work/experience" trips.  They were everything which Hudicourt describes,
but what is described is only a very tiny part of the story.

First the the use of the money.  The assumption is the money would be
donated we the person not to go to Haiti.  That is a fallacy I ran into
dozens of times.  I used to publish a hard copy magazine (STRETCH) from
1983-1994 until I scarped that and started this mailing list.  I always
announced the trips in there and invited people to come to Haiti.  I got
several dozen notes making a similar arguement to Hudicourt's, yet those
people never donated that $1000 to Haiti, but just used it otherwise.

However, my organization did raise over $100,000 a year for those 10 years
which we used to support small economic projects in villages.  At least
90% of that money came from people who had been to Haiti on one of our
trips, had seen the situation first hand and decided to get involved and
raise some money for the economic development projects.  Those projects had no
foreigners involved in them save me as overseer, and I never received a
cent of the money, paying all my own travel expenses and living
expenses when in Haiti out of my own pocket.

Those previous visitors raised money in their families, churches, gargage
and yard sales and all sorts of manners.

And while in Haiti NUMEROUS times people visited the economic development
projects which my organizatin (people to people, inc.) ran, and were so
moved by what the people were doing, that they dug into the reserves they
had with them and gave it to me to further than particular project.

Thus I think the argument of hudicourt fails on at least two counts:

1.  The assumption that if people didn't use that money to visit the
country they would be likely to donate it to some charity.
2.  That there is no follow up, and that the people are not further
motivated to help Haiti in the aftermath.

I would never pretend that EVERY ONE of those 500 people had the same
experience by any means.  Some were not much touched, didn't much care and
just wrote it off as an experience, interesting or non-interesting.  It
was probably the minority of people who were moved to continue their
interest in Haiti.  But, that group of INTERESTED folks have certainly
donated more than $1,000,000 to the work my organization has funded with
small community organizations in the years after their visits to Haiti.

The argument Hudicourt makes is, from my experience, a very short-sighted
one and not rooted in the concrete lived experience I have had in those
years.  Rather, it appeals to some notion of an ideal world and not the
concrete world of multiple and complex motivations which touch people in
different ways.

Bob Corbett
President and Board Member
People to People, Inc.