Are we doing more good than harm?

I am in Quetzaltenango, visiting our local partner, FUNDAP, and the schools we are working with. I spent the last 3 days with Lotification San Marcos in El Palmar.


First the basics :The principle was there when we arrived, the teachers came out of their classes. I sensed an authentic positive welcome. The welcome was actually much more than what I was expecting, and in a way felt disproportionate to the help that TINFA and FUNDAP is bringing to the school.  My counterpart Cesar from FUNDAP, seemed at ease with many of the teachers.

The donated equipment was there: the 2 computers, the video projector, the TV, the screen. Not only was it in the school, it was in use in three of the classrooms. (the third computer was purchased by thes school, financed by a sell of cookies and a tombola). The school has dedicated one room as the Virtual room. In that room the TV is attached high on the wall in a lockable shelf. Other lockers have been installed to store the other equipment. The virtual room also has a new ceiling, to reduce the outside noise, and limit the dust, humidity and all.


One teacher is using the equipment to practice problems in math. The kids are learning how to find the prime factors of a number. Another teacher is showing EnglishAnyone video 4, as a support to his English class. The other teacher is on google map, exploring the world, and zooming into the soccer field in Loma Linda. The school won the district title and the 4th grader who scored the decisive goal was in the room. He stood up and everybody clapped.

Now, there are many questions in the air. How many of the teachers are using the equipment, how difficult is it for them to use it in their classroom, what will happen once the ongoing support that we have provided through our local partner goes away, how does the neighboring community who did not get the equipment is impacted, how replicable is this model. Many questions to which we are hard at work finding answers little by little. We are measuring some of that impact in quantitative data. (knowledge of the teachers, attitude of the children towards education). But still, there is that high level somewhat intuitive question: is our intervention empowering the community (directly and indirectly) or are people feeling less capable of taking ownership of their future?

After visiting Lotificacion San Marcos, I believe that the answer is Yes. I can look at the kids, and these teachers in the eyes, and feel their positive attitude and their willingness to move forward. I do believe that our intervention had a little part to do with it.