Wilford W. Anderson, a respected religious and business leader, once said “The greater the distance between the giver and the receiver, the more the receiver develops a sense of entitlement.” Because Coafrica is based out of Salt Lake City, Utah, there is a GREAT distance between us and the communities we strive to reach. The way that we seek to bridge this gap is by having project coordinators from Africa build teams and hire contractors that are based in the surrounding communities. There are a few reasons that we are structured this way:
First, we know that when a community is invested in their schools, as opposed to seeing the construction of a school in their area as a “gift,” they will feel that the school is under their stewardship, and will take better care of the facility. In addition, when school children witness the amount of sacrifice their parents (and often the children themselves!) put into building a new school, the value of their education increases.
Secondly, hiring local workers puts money directly in the pockets of Africans, boosting the economy in the surrounding areas of the school
So why doesn’t Coafrica take volunteer groups to Africa?
We LOVE volunteer groups, and we recognize they do SO much good for all parties involved. However, engaging with the community surrounding our schools for only one week does not provide the mentorship, partnership, and sense of community that Coafrica values so much. The primary benefit from a volunteer trip goes to the volunteers, and the money spent on these trips usually goes to companies based in the U.S. We recognize there is a time and place for organizations that focus on humanitarian trips, but one of Coafria’s core values is to engage the community, and we accomplish this by presenting our projects as an opportunity for local community members to invest in education, an investment that has incalculable returns.