Red Tape

Guatemala is a beautiful land.  Tourists love to see the ancient Mayan ruins, the steaming volcanoes, the lush jungles, and the gorgeous beaches.

There are other aspects of the country that tourists don’t always see.  Last year, my two oldest kids spent two weeks volunteering in Guatemala.  The group did a little sightseeing as well, so my daughter has a few photos of the tourist sites.  She also has other photos, such as this one:

You and I might see an old tea kettle over a campfire.  In fact, this was the “kitchen” for a family of eight.  The four-cup tea kettle is their cookware.  It is only half full, and that will be the entire family’s meal.

Or this one:


A woman lives here with her four children.  Their “house” consists of some sticks holding up a few pieces of corrugated tin.  My children had never seen such poverty.  In truth, neither have I.

One of the in-country people that my kids worked with hires locals (providing jobs) to build cement-block houses complete with roof, windows, door, and concrete floor.

My daughter wants to raise money to help, but has run into all sorts of red tape.  She had a few terrific ideas (ask for donations, sell products), but contacted the Secretary of State’s office just to make sure there wouldn’t be any legal problems.  It was quite discouraging to learn about government red tape.

First, she wanted to put donation jars in coffee shops, and encourage people to donate, but that’s considered fundraising and would require the organization in Guatemala to file paperwork here.  Then she thought about buying large cases of popcorn/dried fruit at Costco, and selling the individual packages, but doing that would require her have to have a business license and file a tax return.  It just shouldn’t be that hard to get people to donate to help others without having to unravel the various government regulations.

If anyone has ideas on how to get around the red tape so my daughter can do some fundraising to help build houses in Guatemala, I’d love your suggestions.