Tom's Tales: Handouts and Headaches

This edition of our FTF blog is a part of something we call Tom’s Tales. Tom works for FTF in Guatemala. We find his writing quirky, and fun and inviting. We’ve decided to share it with you as a type of serialized adventure: Short snippets of life that we call Tom’s Tales. In this edition Tom gives us an update on project development as he delves deeper into what we call Phase II: Impresario Projects.

Hello world,

This is the end of my immersionship and the beginning of phase II: The deep work.

To tell the truth, it’s been a frustrating process. Teaching English at Abraham’s school was a clear cut gig and easy to deliver; just show up and spew out English and give the students an opportunity to practice. Now, I’m meeting with our local Impresarios and figuring out what our next steps are. Easier said than done.

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I feel I cannot start working until both parties have a clear understanding of the plan and expectations. I have a document for this, but it’s the conversations with the impresarios that’s so difficult. No, let me rephrase that: It’s not the conversations, it is the exchange of ideas and expectations, a clash of cultures. Explaining sustainability is difficult because in this area there isn’t much thought on the future. It’s the present that everyone lives for.  Which, well, makes them present… I think? Truth is, I kind of think it’s a good view to have on life, however, in order to do this job and plan these projects we need to work in western mode. I think. I keep thinking how starting a project is like navigating with a map; it’s pretty useless to begin until you find out your starting position.

So many considerations.

So how do I go about this? First I try and only provide help if the folks involved are also trying to help themselves. I don’t want to be doing work while an impresario sits around waiting for a free handout. Luckily I inherited a few projects to get started. I’m already deep into it all. My next blog will be an update on how the middle looks now that I’m passed the beginning.

For now, here’s the inside scoop regarding our present impresarios:

  • I have a water committee who has been holding onto a water project for 12 years and they are waiting for international help of $200,000. I’m looking around for water programs to assist them.

  • I’m working with Abraham who is desperately needing money just to sustain himself. He’s off grid without a phone and a laptop that’s usually not powered. He’s running a school that’s completely free, however he isn’t free from financial security. We are going to get him to advertise his tutoring business while I look around for a salary for him.

  • There is Dario with his storefront bakery and he’s asking for clients and a wall to upgrade his shop. He wants to sell to more people and he has flies and dust accumulating all over his kitchen. His idea, execute a sales pitch to big chains; gas stations, schools and supermarkets who may be interested in buying his bread. Also create a wall so that his customers don’t get sick.

  • There is IXIM, the cooperative bank, eager for capital investment. They are lending money to projects and cooperatives in the village at low interest rates. The catch, they need money to loan more money. I will be traveling out to the village to check out some of the projects the villages are up to. There are some very smart women out there trailblazing a future for their kids.

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If you know anyone who would be interested in assisting these impresarios feel free to let me know. And for the next update look for a new impresario here in Momostenango. I think we might be adding another impresario to the list. Stay tuned.