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Laura G.

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3 reviews

Review for Re-Member, Pine Ridge, SD, USA

Rating: 2 stars  

Re-member is a charity that helps the Lakota people primarily by bringing them beds, skirting (to reduce heating costs), creating wheelchair ramps, outhouse installation, and minor home repairs. It costs $546 to volunteer there for a week. That pays for housing (bunkhouse with 8+ in a room), food (it's all cheap, processed food), touring the Badlands, and Pine Ridge, and lectures by Lakota people.

I was hoping for personal interaction with the Lakota, but this was not really part of it. Our days were scheduled from 7:00 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. They say to slow down and listen, but there was no time. They also use "Rez time" as a one way excuse to be late (waste time), but hold you accountable if you are slow, late, or not on their schedule.

Volunteering entails a lot of not well organized work so it felt unproductive. The week I was there, we delivered about 11 beds and skirted 2 homes. A Native came looking for someone in the office because he said he'd been waiting for a bed for a year. Another told me that he's been waiting for roof repairs for 4 years.

The total income produced by the 50+ volunteers was in the neighborhood of $23,000 for the week. That doesn't seem like a great return on investment. There were so many volunteers and so little work that the volunteers were loaned out to Red Cloud Renewable Energy. We pulled weeds to get them ready for a visit by potential investors.

They ask for your money while condemning you for being privileged even though I know that some people there scraped together their pennies to be there.

The staff was brusque, bossy, and rude and treated the volunteers like children. We had to clean the bunkhouse, vehicles, kitchen, and laundry room as part of our service because, as one paid staff put it, "We'll have to do it if you don't."

The worst part was the proselytizing. If you want a healthy dose of white guilt, go here. They are liberal with it. You will know (if you are white) that you are a total piece of trash. We were even told by one speaker that Republicans can see themselves out. For the record, I am not a Republican or an Anglo, but I am a human being and I don't like seeing people treated like that.

Here I learned that there is only one race, the human race - but if you are white, you are a devil. I learned "Do not feed the animals. It only makes them dependent" while they were giving bunk beds to people who (some) didn't ask to help bring in the pieces or help with assembly.

I am happy that I came to Pine Ridge. I actually learned a lot. I dug deep and asked myself a lot of questions. I left with more than I brought, but it was hard won. Re-member's vision of the Red Road is not my vision. "Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that." ~Martin Luther King. That means love for all people, not just the ones with the politics that agree with yours or those with the right skin color.

Role:  Volunteer
 

Review for CAMBODIAN ARTS AND SCHOLARSHIP FOUNDATION, Portland, ME, USA

Rating: 5 stars  

After visiting Cambodia in 2004, I become intensely interested in helping the people recover from the genocide of Pol Pot. I was looking for a charitable organization that had low overhead, spent its money on useful projects and not administration and advertising. Although there are many charities and projects I could have participated in, I chose this one because of the focus on helping young girls. Young girls are often sold into sexual slavery because the families can't afford to feed them and boys have more opportunity for work, and therefore are of more financial use to the family.

I held a fundraiser for the Cambodian Arts and Scholarship Foundation and also sent my own money to provide food, bicycles, uniforms, and education so that girls could go to school. I got handwritten updates thanking me and updating me on the progress.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

I have received updates on the students progress as well as seen updates on the website. I have been kept in touch with in this personal way even when I haven't donated that year. It's a very personal experience that I recommend for people who want to be involved, but maybe can't go to Cambodia and do the work themselves.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

None. I think they are great at staying focused on the goal and spend money where it is needed. They are on the ground and personally involved, so they know where the need is and are not just taking some advisor's word for it.

Role:  Donor & I donated money to fund their projects.
 

Review for Sustainable Cambodia Inc, Gainesville, FL, USA

Rating: 5 stars  

I have been a donor with Sustainable Cambodia since 2004. I was inspired to help young girls obtain education after visiting and seeing the many amputees, overwhelming poverty, and young female prostitutes who have no other way to survive.

I am really pleased with the way the program has grown to create more education, food, health, and business opportunities for the poor people of Pursat. I am kept informed of progress, have personal contact with my sponsored child, and feel confident that my money is going to the programs that they are designed to help.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

I've watched one girl go from being in grade school to now being in college where she is studying to be a banker. We keep in regular contact (In English) via facebook. She's a delightful girl!

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Not much really. I think the organization has stayed true to its vision. They improve the lives of the village, but don't impose a western way of life or religion on the people they serve. Villager help to build any projects that require building. Locals provide the education. Most of the effort and money comes from and stays in the village.

Role:  Donor & I donate money to various projects to help villages have clean water, malaria free homes, transportation to school (bikes), food, education, and create a sustainable lifestyle.