Let the Good Times Roll?

“No one has ever become poor by giving.”
― Anne Frank, diary of Anne Frank


let the good times rollRecently, I’ve been bombarded on my Facebook news feed with videos of the ALS Ice Bucket challenge. The ALS marketing strategy is brilliant and has raised over $30 million dollars for ALS research and created an awareness of ALS throughout the world. Letting the good times roll by donating to a reputable charity AND having fun while doing it is exhilarating.

The ALS Ice Bucket challenge led me to muse about donations. I wonder how and where people choose to donate? How does one decide which organization/person/country is worthy of one’s donations of time and money? Is asking for donations an act of selflessness, such as the ALS Ice Bucket challenge,  or selfishness, such as my rant below?

I opened a blog post written by a young expat couple living in Nicaragua and noticed a new donation button. Great, I thought to myself. I’m always willing to donate to a worthy cause for Nicaragua. Instead, they were asking for donations for themselves because they write a blog…because they want money for their information on their blog…because they want to buy a couple of frosty Toñas, dinner for two, or a night on the town. They say they will show their appreciation by keeping the good times rolling and the information flowing.

Let the party begin! While you are guzzling your frosty Toñas, I’d like to share a few facts with you about Nicaragua.

1. Nicaragua, the poorest country in Central America and the second poorest in the Western Hemisphere, has widespread underemployment and poverty.

But, Let the Good Times Roll!

2. Only 45% of students who enter primary school go on to high school, making Nicaragua’s secondary-school enrollment among the lowest in the world. Nicaraguan teachers are impoverished, and the education system lacks basic supplies. This year, the government couldn’t provide textbooks for the students. Students who can’t afford school uniforms can’t attend school.

But, Let the Good Times Roll!

3. Close to half (43%) of the people in Nicaragua live in rural areas. The most vulnerable people in rural areas include the families of small-scale farmers. They are vulnerable to market variations and climatic conditions. Recent droughts have seriously affected their food production and income.

But, Let the Good Times Roll!

4. In rural areas only 68% of people have access to safe drinking water and 37% have improved sanitation.

But, Let the Good Times Roll!

Dejar que los buenos tiempos. Let your good times roll.  I’m having a very difficult time understanding selfish motives, when there are so many wonderful programs and NGOs sincerely asking for donations to help alleviate poverty in Nicaragua.

Selfish and spoiled people, blind to the needs of others, annoy me. Of course, I posted a comment on their blog, but it wasn’t published…no surprise. How could they respond? What could they possibly say to convince me that their needs are greater than the majority of hard-working, generous, and resilient Nicaraguans who have become a part of my life in Nicaragua?

I know it’s impossible to help everyone in need. But after living in Nicaragua for over a decade, I’ve discovered it doesn’t take a lot of money. It is an investment of time, an understanding of poverty, and a lot of common sense when it comes to providing a hand up and not a hand out.

There are so many good charities where your generous donations can improve the lives of others. Research carefully before donating.

Where will your good times roll today?  Do your good times roll selfishly or selflessly?

21 thoughts on “Let the Good Times Roll?

  1. I have no objections to people earning money through their blog, but there is a right way to do this. A couple of bloggers in Ecuador provide detailed instructions on how: http://bloggerabroad.com/how-to-make-money-expat-travel-blog/
    It takes more work than the couple whose blog you mention, but it is a lot different and far more legitimate way to bring in income than essentially, being gringos who beg!
    Thank you for your tireless efforts to raise awareness about the realities of this beautiful count: the poverty and the real, basic needs.
    As far as charitable giving is concerned, personally I tend to be a bit impulsive and give to charities that do two things: 1. Touch my heart, and 2: Make it easy to donate.
    I have to give the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge full credit for raising awareness sky-high about this terrible disease and making possible a lot of engaging little clips to keep it in the forefront of our minds. To date they’ve raised $70.2 million!!

    • Cedelune, thank you for describing how and where you choose to donate. It’s a question that I often wonder about, especially after the extremely successful marketing plan of the ALS Ice Bucket challenge.
      I have absolutely no objections to people earning money on their blogs either. Gringos Abroad have done their research, understand marketing, and expertly share their experiences with others who wish to have a money making blog. It’s their profession and they do it well.
      Occasionally, I feel the need to rant and ask questions about our blogging motives, especially when it involves asking for donations…and particularly in Nicaragua, the second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Thanks for your insightful comments.

  2. Great thought provoking post! The ALS ice bucket challenge has baffled me a bit. Not because I don’t believe that ALS should be supported. It should. But if there was not a huge stink about it on Facebook and sharing all the funny videos would these people have ever donated to the cause? I think not. I wish people were so generous with other causes too. So
    Much needs to be done. That is what is wonderful about social media yet it also is a little strange too.

    • Nicole, I think maybe the key to creating an awareness for a charity is to actively get people involved…the goofier..the better. Raising money for a good cause can be fun, and using social media to post videos of the Ice Bucket challenge is brilliant. It creates a chain reaction, and everyone wants to be involved.
      I read that because there are so many charities asking for donations, that the best way to inspire people to give is to ask for little donations. The ALS Ice Bucket challenge asks for people to donate either $10 and pour a bucket of ice over one’s head, then challenge friends to do the same; or ask for a $100 donation and no video is posted.
      It cracks me up with some of the objections to this marketing technique. The funniest one is to hear people complaining that water is scarce, how dare they pour precious water over their heads in times of drought. ???
      Oh well, to each his own. Thanks for your thoughtful comments, Nicole.

      • Hey Deb: I see that you objected to people making comments about using water in times of drought. I was one of those people, though I didn’t condemn the Ice Bucket Challenge. I hear your perspective. I also realize that those who have the money to give also have the water to use. There is another perspective, however, from those who live in the drought stricken areas; and the irony is that they are most often extremely generous people who would give if they could. For these people, at this time, watching other parts of the world “waste” water in this way and have access to ice (what a luxury) in such a huge marketing campaign, can strike a nerve of poverty realization and a feeling of being forgotten, and more (too extensive to get into here). They are left out of something the whole world seems to be participating in…the whole world with money and water. What this brought to mind for me, since I live and work with the people who feel this way in Nicaragua, and with students who come from these situations and are now struggling for survival in the US, is to come up with a campaign that raises money, but also allows ALL and any people to participate and feel a part of a global society that cares for all the people. The ALS Ice Bucket challenge was a wonderful idea, but it aroused important questions that should be considered. This is a great project to challenge my students with, especially since many of them can directly relate to not having the means to donate and whose families in their home countries are losing livestock during this drought. Many of their parents have memories of people dying in the last drought – 1976. They are nervous and afraid. So, an alternative to water and ice for a worldwide awareness and plea campaign is not something to laugh at. Whose voice is heard? Thank you for all you do for so many people.

        • This is a sane and sensitive response from a good friend in Esteli who works for ERSLA. There were some people in India with a good response, as well…they gave a bowl of rice to another person. There are many ways to be inclusive and sensitive, and still raise funds….more importantly, we can raise awareness, generosity, a sense of belonging to a global community.

        • I am saying that it brought up many different feelings and ideas from those who could not participate, even they wanted to, and they are valid feelings and ideas that should be seriously taken into consideration and respected. I did not condemn the challenge.

        • Ometepe is one perspective of Nicaragua, but other areas have access to internet cafes and some pueblos even have wi-fi now with the cell phone towers. Yes….even poor rural areas and even some very poor campesinos have Facebook pages. The whole world, practically, has television. Strange, but true. There is more and more awareness of social justice issues in the outlying areas. My teacher friends there have access to internet and have expressed their views. Like I said, I listened.

        • Paulette, you express your understanding and empathy for the people living in conditions of drought, so well. My main point was not a water issue, but one of deciding where our money should go to help those in need. I couldn’t participate in the ice bucket challenge, simply because we don’t have any ice and no where to get it. lol It doesn’t bother me that other people are participating in the ice bucket challenge. More power to them. What bothers me is that people are complaining about it instead of taking action and creating an awareness for a charity in which they feel strongly. I honestly don’t feel anyone in Nicaragua feels “left out” or “forgotten” because of the ice bucket challenge. Most of the locals I know, don’t even have access to a computer to see the ice bucket challenge videos. So, my point is…take action! Create a fun and motivating marketing technique to get people involved in a charity of your choice. And be aware of where your hard earned money goes. I choose to spend my money in Nicaragua for Nicaraguans…but to each his own.

        • I hear you, Deb. I was responding to the comment about being cracked up about people saying it is wasting water. I know you, and I know what a thoughtful person you are. I just wondered if maybe a perspective was forgotten. Yes, many people in Nicaragua have commented about the issue, and yes, it has hit a raw note with some people from the countries experiencing extreme water hardships. It brought things up for them, and they expressed it and even offered alternatives. My students spoke about it, and I listened. I wonder how middle class people might feel if there was an issue that was important, but the challenge was something like – Drive your Lamborghini for 100 miles and run through three deep mud puddles for a $1,000 or pay $10,000. If it was stated as a fund raiser for only the rich to participate in, then OK…but if it was presented as something that the global society could/should participate in, then people would feel left out and there would definitely be a division between the haves and the have nots. Back to the issue at hand, people spoke, and I listened – it was very clear. The issues that were raised were good ones, and the alternatives even better. Sometimes we forget just how privileged we are, and yes, that separates us from others.

  3. Wow, I also just read the blog you accurately describe. It’s amazing they seem to not realize how self-centered and insensitive they sound – and short-sighted Don’t they wonder why many Nicaraguans resent and dislike ex-pats, and crime continues to rise in areas like San Juan del Sur?

    If that is what they want OK. Just hope they have enough money to keep hiring more guards, building higher walls etc. and let their good times roll.

    But as you and Ron demonstrate well, if they ever come out of their fantasy world they might find another even more interesting Nicaragua, with warm, generous people wanting a life for everyone.

    • Jon, you are a great detective! My point was not to do a character assassination on the people who have this blog (I debated on adding a link to their post), instead, I wanted to create an awareness of why we donate, and what is a worthy cause, especially when living in Nicaragua.
      The La Prensa has a series of articles about the increased crime rate in San Juan del Sur. The expats in SJDS are in a tizzy because they don’t want this information released to the general public because it will affect tourism. But, what do they expect? Asking for donations so you can let your good times roll in SJDS only adds to the problem…in my humble opinion.
      Thanks, Jon, for sharing your thoughts. I think you should write a blog. You write so well. 🙂

  4. “El Bono Demographico”… how to save Nicaragua before 2035. Take a while to watch this wonderful short film!

  5. We are so sorry to hear of the economic hardship brought on by the recent drought and other economic factors in Nicaragua. God bless you and Ron as you battle to stand up for your new neighbors.

    On the other topic – I have never trusted people who try to make money from their personal blogs. I am sure some people have approached you wanting you to feature their land development or promote their new business. We get those requests often and routinely turn them down reminding ourselves that we are just trying to relay information to family and friends.

    • The rains have started, at least in the southern part of the country. But, I fear that it is too late to help the farmers. This drought has devastated Nicaragua since it is predominantly an agricultural country. On a good note, the people are forced to accept change. For example, they are eating black beans, instead of their traditional red beans. Black beans are easier to grow and more suitable during times of drought. It’s forcing farmers to rethink what they grow, what is marketable, and cheaper.
      On the topic of blogs, there are professional blogs and personal blogs, and they should be kept separate. Like you, I write for my family and friends and to create an awareness of compassionate cultural immersion. Wonderful things have happened due..in part…to my blog. I am so grateful that I can spread the word, that I have the opportunity to live among the Nicaraguan people, and to live simply and most of the time…joyfully.
      Thanks, John and Mary, for your loving thoughts. I thoroughly enjoy reading your comments.

  6. this came through a news feed to my inbox, and i set it aside to lob to you.. your post supports that this might be true… http://www.bernama.com/bernama/v7/wn/newsworld.php?id=1062216 i know that people of the campo sometimes cook iguana – i have cooked it once out of curiosity -( someone had killed one with a slingshot when it was raiding the garden)…

    your love for your adopted country burns through, and they are lucky to have you defending their rights and speaking up on a variety of subjects. i am so lucky to have met you and ron, as i love you even more! z

    • Yes! Iguana meat! I read that article and I was shocked! Times are really hard in Nicaragua with the drought. People are hungry, and they can’t afford to buy their rice and beans because they are really expensive, now. I’ve eaten iguana before. Honestly, it’s tasty…kind of like chicken.
      Z…why is it that I have to defend these gracious, vivacious people? Why can’t we just all live together peacefully and help one another? Sometimes, I get so angry when I read posts written by selfish, spoiled expats. And to ask for donations so they can drink their frosty beers and order pulled pork barbeque at their favorite expat restaurant, while their neighbors are using sling shots to eat iguana because they are hungry!!! It’s a crazy world we live in.
      I love you, too my dear friend. I am so thankful that our paths crossed. 🙂

  7. Amen to this! There is a new fascinating movement in Nicaragua called: El Proyecto Reto 2035. This movement is by young Nicaraguans FOR the love of their country, but all expats should be supportive.

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