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.


5 thoughts on “Red Tape

  1. Did they go to Guatemala through a non-profit organization of some sort? If so, could they connect with that organization and do a fundraiser under their “umbrella”? Could she join a church and then join the mission committee, and then work through them to sponsor a project?
    It’s actually easy to get a business license and file tax returns, etc. It would be good life training, and who know, may lead to a future career!
    Good luck!

    • Even better! She discovered that the guy in charge of having the brick houses built is already under the umbrella of a church, so she’s pointing people toward donating there and specifying that the money goes toward the brick houses. Daughter certainly learned a lot while working on this project. So far (on her own) she’s raised $235.

  2. It’s hard to imagine a simple block one room house as a luxury but in many parts of the world it is exactly that. How proud you must be of your children that they are motivated to help in this way. I often think that if we were all just more a part of our tribe life would be so much better for us all.

    • 🙂 I am amazed at what my kids are doing. I was very selfish and self-centered at their ages, and wouldn’t have dreamed of tackling a project like this. Imagine if we all did just a little bit, how much better the world would be.

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