November 2, 2011

Why HANDS? How HANDS Trips Help with Funds and Resources

Blog Archives:

 For the month of November, our blog is featuring weekly posts discussing the challenges and benefits of HANDS short term mission projects. Stay tuned every Wednesday for a new post!

A common question about short term mission trips, including HANDS team service and learning trips, is: wouldn’t more cost-effective building take place if teams simply donated all of their funds to a project instead of using funds to travel overseas?

To many, such a question may seem logical. When we look at the work and impact of EduDeo Ministries HANDS teams, however, it is clear that a substantial amount of funds are raised through their efforts. Every year, HANDS teams bring significant resources into the country they are travelling to! But… how?

First of all, it is important to note that the cost of a HANDS trip includes funds for the project which allows for the purchase of necessary building supplies. In many countries these materials are not cheap! So providing funds to assist with these purchases is essential for building projects to take place. Funds raised also allow local labourers to be employed and to take the lead on the project. This allows HANDS trips to be a cooperative effort between visiting Canadians and local people who know the context.

Secondly, a portion of HANDS funds are designated for logistics, helping employ local people who, among other things, prepare food, manage accommodations, maintain vehicles, and provide transportation to visiting groups. Regularly sending teams to a partner actually creates jobs that would otherwise not exist and, in many locations, hosting groups is a local industry in and of itself.

EduDeo Ministries also contributes to building projects that are completed solely by local labourers with funds provided by generous individuals and groups. Many people, however, feel called to give on a more participatory level—to actually go to the places their fundraising efforts are designated for and meet the people there. People that will be traveling to a project location and participating in the work tend to have the ability to raise more funds due to the more personal connection they have to the project. Many times HANDS teams have raised above and beyond the minimum amount required, and so been able to provide the local partner organization with even more resources than expected. A blessing indeed!

For discussion: Have you ever heard people say that service and learning projects are not as effective as sending funds to the country without traveling there? Have you ever wondered this yourself? And has this discussion of the funds, resources, and employment provided by HANDS trips helped or changed your understanding of this issue?

We’d appreciate your comments!


Nov 2, 2011 at 10:33 am

The personal touch is a good point, and it works both ways. Canadians who are participating will feel more obliged to raise the funds, and more people are going to give to support someone they know rather than just sending money overseas. On the receiving end of the funds, if a foreign people just keep getting funds from "somewhere" they may turn lazy. Seeing people come into their country, town, village and donating not only their money but also their time, encourages them and most importantly proclaims the gospel message of loving your neighbour.

Nov 2, 2011 at 11:11 am

I have heard this comment often. Having a experienced being on a HANDS Team I know and am convinced that going to another place to build a school is not only about 'the money' (though its a very important part of the trip). Its also about relationships. During the entire process of raising funds and being on the trip itself, there are many relationships happening: our personal relationship with God, our relationship with ourelves (self-examination through the lense of scriptures - why am I doing this and what are my expectations?), our relationship with other group members, our relationship with staff at Edu-Deo, our relationship with other team leaders as we meet through training, our relationships even with people at the airport and last but not least, our relationships with the people we meet where we are working. In each and every instance we are Christ's Ambassadors, representing Him alone and we are there to learn. Who we are in all these situations says something about Jesus to our neighbour. Raising funds as a team puts each one of us in these amazing opportunities to be Christ to those in our path.

Nov 2, 2011 at 1:16 pm

Simply sending money is easier but not necessarily more effective.

The seemingly pious argument can sometimes be used to mask a laziness on the part of the donor. Other times it reveals an ignorance about the complexity of poverty. Other times still it reveals the human love affair with money and a notion particularly prevalent in North America that money can solve anything.

In addition to lack of resources, the poor are often lacking the love of others, self respect, justice and hope.

Throwing money at them does not minister to those deep human needs.

Money doesn't have the ability to investigate root causes, understand complex issues or point people to meaningful solutions to their problems and encourage them in love.

People do this.

But empty words are about as offensive as cold hard cash to a hurting soul.

Perhaps it's helpful to ask our selves this:

"If I were going through an extremely difficult time in my life and in need of help, would I simply want some faceless individual to send me money? Or would I benefit from people who would visit me, listen to me, take time to understand my situation, talk with me, walk with me and encourage me?"

Wouldn't we be better served by a combination of the two?

This is why we should continue to go.

Nov 2, 2011 at 2:06 pm

The HANDS program is part of the worldwide movement towards voluntourism. There is a felt need among 1st world people, not just Christians, to go out into the world and make a difference, and experience the world at the same time. There are all kinds of opportunities, both secular and Christian, to travel abroad and serve.

Nov 2, 2011 at 4:57 pm

I like Jason's post about considering what you would want if you were in a situation of need - best way to know how to help someone is to place yourself in their shoes. Dignity, respect, love along with practical help reflects the restoration and reconciliation that we have in Christ.

Nov 2, 2011 at 9:13 pm

Mission teams have value in that they bring money into the needy community, and allow North Americans to experience fellowship with Christian brothers and sisters in other places. They fall short in some other areas: 1-team members may be doing work that could have provided employment for nationals,2- decisions about what is helpful for the community are made by North Americans rather than local Christians.

Nov 3, 2011 at 2:43 pm

Freda....hearing your concerns and its a frequent comment I hear when we are planning a HANDS Team. :) 1. Often team members are contributing while they are there, but usually the work continues when the team has gone home...and the money raised also goes to hire nationals from the area that would otherwise be without work - they can now provide food and shelter for their families. If the money had not been there due to fundraising, they would not have work. Also, the relationships built while working with the nationals is amazing and builds trust bc we serve a risen Saviour. Though our language and culture is different we have that common bond! 2. In my experience, what gets built, how its built and what would be helpful is decided upon by the 'ont the ground' Edu-Deo contacts and local contractors - not by Edu Deo alone or the HANDS Teams - we come only ready to serve and do what we are asked to do. Even when we are asked to do something that seems rather contrary to our NA standards (slug water, sand and concrete by hand) we come with a willing heart that prays, "Thy will be done". Its simply stunning how when you come there with a servants' heart, ready to be Christ wherever and whenever you are able, it doesn't first of all matter what you are doing because all that we do, (work or play) is to glorify God.

Nov 5, 2011 at 8:01 pm

I have been on about 14 short term mission trips. I can assure you that Edudeo has a focus of asking the nationals what they are in need of before sending teams. We work on developing the partnerships with the nationals and also focus on the relationships established with teachers and other members of the community.

We also believe that by sending teams there is also accountability as to the use of funds. Accountablity is very important in order to keep our tax status as a charity. That is true for all charitable work even if it is Canada.

Another plus is that those who go on these trips also develop a long lasting committment to support these schools both in prayer and finances.

Jason brings up a lot of good points that are worth considering. Christians are very much called to be relationship oriented. This is how we bring comfort and support to eachother.

Nov 8, 2011 at 1:53 pm

Great comments! Let me just add a thought or two:

Done properly, HANDS trips (or short-term mission teams) should have a lasting, positive impact on both the people going and the people receiving. Teams that go with an attitude of superiority, or who go to 'do for' the community they visit what the local people can and should do for themselves, may end up doing more harm than good and should probably simply send the money instead. On the other hand, when teams are willing to raise funds for whatever need is greatest, which is just a small component of the local, long-term vision, and if the teams are ready to humbly serve, build relationships, spend time talking & working together with the local Christians, these short-term trips can result in wonderful mutual blessings where both parties benefit. Which ties in nicely with our next blog post... stay tuned!

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