I recently had a conversation with friend who used to work as an NGO in Indonesia. Being a developing country Indonesia has a myriad of social and environmental issues. Government and non government organizations have to try and raise awareness and get local people to make some changes.
He was involved with trying to educate the local fisherman and other people about environmental issues in the Thousand islands (Pulua Seribu). Dumping of rubbish, collecting of coral, blast and dynamite fishing, boat anchors on coral are just some of the issues facing this area. First you must raise awareness, then develop understanding before finally being able to effect action or make a real change.
However, when he tried to run workshops for the people he had a good turn out for the first morning but they would all arrive, ask for their ‘transportation allowance’ and ask when can they go home??? It transpires that many other NGOs or Government organizations running similar programs previously has just given out envelopes of money, a boxed lunch, took some photos for spanduk (large banners which act as evidence’ that they held the workshop and it was well attended) and told the people they could then go home for the remaining 3 or 4 days.
Well, of course the people assumed that my friend would be running a similar ‘scam’ and when they found out they would have to actually be involved for a few days, and that there was not ‘transportation allowance money’ they did not want to stay or participate.
My friend persisted for awhile with trying to run programs, but in the end gave up and stopped working for the NGO, it was too hard and the culture of laziness and a free hand out was too difficult to break.
He now has his own company that works with schools and students, he is raising awareness of environmental issues with the next generation, let’s hope it is not too late by the time they are in charge!