Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Honduras to nonprofits: Use head along with heart and hands

Trevor Williams
Global Atlanta

Ana Padgett tells of an organization that dug three wells in a village, only to frustrate the local women whose lives it was supposed to improve.
The hour they spent going to the river every morning was a key social outlet, a time to talk about life and family without intrusion by their husbands. However well-intentioned, the charity took that away.
"They were trying to do something that was good but they didn't take into consideration the reality of the community, and that happens a lot," said Ms. Padgett, vice consul for outreach to nongovernmental organizations at the Honduran consulate general in Atlanta.
Honduras is a poor Central American country that largely depends on the activities of outside non-profits and relief agencies. It has become a go-to destination for Christian mission teams looking to make a big impact in a foreign country that's practically in their backyard - just two hours by plane from Atlanta.
But as with many needy countries, the proliferation of aid groups has caused confusion, with some groups duplicating efforts and others ignoring the nation's regulations and long-term priorities, said Emelisa Callejas, the Honduras consul general.
Atlanta has become the epicenter for her country's efforts to change that.
Last year Ms. Callejas hosted the first international nonprofit conference in Atlanta, an annual event that was repeated this March.
Ms. Padgett spoke at the first event. At this year's, she had just arrived in her official post at the consulate, the only one among Honduras' 10 U.S. diplomatic offices with a staffer coordinating outreach to nonprofit groups.
An economist with a master's in business administration and a history of working on social programs, Ms. Padgett is tasked with helping match groups with needs in the country or directing them toward the right government officials to maximize resources.
By linking up, they'll be more in tune with the government's 30-year national plan for development, which was enacted in 2010 with input from village and city leaders across the country, Ms. Padgett told GlobalAtlanta.
Read more here.

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