The heartaches of International Aid

29 08 2012

My adorable buddy who is now in the hospital

I woke up this morning feeling, well that feeling. Kind of a mix of sadness, guilt and well…. heartache I guess. Its just the challenges of international aid, but being here such a short time has made things feel very concentrated and intense.  I was supposed to get to go to the hospital this morning to see a little girl (well, she’s a teenager now) I worked with a ton last year. She has had a really rough year and has been hospitalized over 3 months now. It would have made her day/month maybe (and mine too) if I could see her. Apparently there are issues with the MIO (the bus transportation system) so the person who was supposed to meet me and take me to see her can’t get here. So that is number 1.  Really I think its just sort of icing on the cake for what is really bothering me this morning.

Many of you may remember all the hard work we put into creating and implementing ProjectPlay at Oscar de Scarpetta (an orphanage). It was running perfectly when I left and the adolescent girls were thrilled at the possibilities of work… and more than that, earning a pay check.  I attended their first group meeting when they were planning their first outing.  They were filled with ideas and hopes and well… they were just normal teenage girls planning a huge slumber party. It was really amazing.  Unfortunately, logistical issues were not running as smoothly as the day to day operations.  There was a huge restructuring for the Colombia program at Gladney and at the same time an equally huge turnover of staff at Oscar.  The result, a frustrating stalemate… bottom line, the funds could not be transferred from Gladney to Oscar to support the program.  The physical therapy students that were supervising the program were not getting paid nor were the adolescents in the program.  There was no money changing hands to keep the program running. Soon, from what I have heard, it just sort of disintegrated.  The new staff at Oscar didn’t know much about it and thus were not extremely motivated to try and get it off the ground.  And Gladney had little in-country support to make the contacts necessary to get things running from their end.

But all that doesn’t matter when you are one of the adolescent girls putting their heart and soul into this project… with the anticipation you are finally going to get some freedom, make your own decisions, earn some plata (cash).  They were so disappointed.  And I can imagine, very confused and let down.  I am sure they got little information about why the program stopped or if it would continue again. Magnolia told me that every single time she has gone there since, these girls chase her down and ask if I will come back and start the program again.  Every single time.

It really breaks my heart to be yet another adult that disappointed these kids, that let them down, that didn’t follow through on their side of a commitment. They have experienced that all to much already in their short lives.  Magnolia and I decided that it is probably best if I don’t go there to see them… to many false hopes and expectations.  Even if the connections were in place to get funds transferred, there is no way I could get things going again in this short amount of time.  And bottom line, the connects aren’t in place. I really don’t know if its the right decision and it honestly hurts my heart to avoid seeing them, but I guess (I hope) it is for the best.

I have learned so much in my involvement with Gladney, the frustrations of international aid. There are so many obstacles to successful sustainable change.  So here I sit, in my pajamas on  my bed…. wishing I had more than a week to be able to actually get somethings done. To really help. To make this ache in my heart and cry in my throat go away.





One response

30 08 2012

I know how much you loved Project Play and how important it was for the babies and the teens at Scarpetta. There is disappointment on so many levels when you know it could be working and helping so many children.
Somehow there must be a way for things to be put into place to make this good thing happen. We have to find a way!
My heart breaks for the little girl all alone in the hospital.

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