We are always amazed at the generous hearts of those who come to work with us. Many volunteers bring donations with them in hopes of being able to give them directly to those they meet on their trip. After years of working in various communities and countries, we have unfortunately seen this create many problems. For example, if someone from the local community has set up a small business selling shoes to support their family, and then our teams come in with shoes to give away, we can hurt that business, or even put them out of business if this happens on a consistent basis.
Volunteers are also not aware of what other groups have done for specific families in the community. For example, one family with a particularly sad story could receive repeated donations from many different groups, while other families who are equally in need may receive nothing, which then creates tension in the community, as it can appear that specific people are being favoured while others are being left out. Because of this, Live Different depends greatly on local community leaders to inform us of the community’s history and prioritized needs, and to help make sure we are balanced and fair whenever donations are made that represent Live Different.
We recognize that it can be hard for our volunteers not to feel conflicted when they are working alongside families that may only have an income of about $30-$100/month, and it’s a normal reaction for them to want to do anything they can to help. Live Different would never want to discourage this desire and passion to make a difference, we simply want to ensure that those good intentions really do become an empowering and lasting investment, showing dignity and respect to each family and community we work in. In the end, we have found that simply giving out donations rarely meets long-term needs, and doesn’t build a sustainable, caring relationship between Live Different and the communities we work in.
For these reasons, Live Different asks volunteers not to hand out donations directly, never hand out cash, and to never make promises, as it may be outside of your power to keep them.
Instead, we want to inform and inspire our volunteers with the many valuable ways that Live Different already has in place to enable them to make a contribution to the communities we work in.
- The very best way to help is to make a monetary donation to contribute towards the costs of household supplies for the families you will be building for. This allows us to support the local economy and businesses by purchasing supplies in the host country.
- If you would like to help the whole community you’ve worked in, Live Different has set up a Community Development Fund for each country. These funds go towards emergency expenses for families in need such as medical costs, school uniforms and supplies, community projects such as bridges and water cisterns, and is also available to be used to aid these communities if they experience hurricanes, floods, etc. You can contribute to these funds by making a donation here and noting which country the funds should be directed towards.
- If you would like to make a monetary donation to a family for a specific need, please speak with Live Different staff and we will help you investigate whether making a donation is a wise choice.
- If volunteers would still like to bring something from Canada to donate, we ask they contact us first for a list of needed items for their particular trip. All donations will be collected by Live Different staff upon arrival, organized, and distributed equally.