My brother in law is in Costa Rica with WorldTeach and his blog is linked above. Much respect, because he's on a journey many of us - myself included - could never imagine. Building houses in the rain and mud for poor families; teaching great young minds who need the care and attention of a great teacher on a daily basis; breaking social barriers and living without a cell phone or McDonald's close by for a year or more...again, can you imagine yourself in a mountain in Costa Rica teaching villagers? I thought not.
I don't think it's a fair comparison, so view this as more a correlation, but if you look at poor villages in Europe, you see what many of us actually came from. Anyone of southern Italian, Spanish, Czech, French, even German & Polish descent - many of these immigrants were poor and our great grandfathers came over during the Great Depression or some other time of crisis, looking for work. Imagine if your great grandfather had stayed behind and was maybe ten times as poor as he was back in his village in Europe, which had the benefit of thousands of years of Roman and Greek society behind it? Then you might get an idea of what Dan is dealing with in Costa Rica today. No Wal-Mart; no PDAs; no distinction between Apple or Microsoft (THE HORROR!).
While I'm definitely against overpopulation and world governments throwing money at problems, this type of direct assistance being provided by Dan & his fellow volunteers strengthens my view that private organizations do a much better job than any government ever could in terms of assistance. It also strengthens my view that people should and could be helped directly by giving of time & money versus sending boxes of air-dropped food and drugs to, say, Africa, and then watching as corrupt governments cash in on that aid.
What the US government does, while patting itself on the back, is throw money, drugs, or food at a problem and says, "have fun". They don't actually build anything, but they waste our taxpayer money on looking good to the rest of the world, while simultaneously giving guns and ammo to horrible allies like Israel, our "American in the Middle East".
Dan, however, is actually building something for families and watching as their situation gets just a little better. That family will have a much better view of America and Americans as a result, especially compared to the Palestinian grandfather who can still remember when Israel was called Palestine and he and his family weren't living in concentration camps. This grandfather has probably seen one son or grandson "accidentally" murdered by Israeli military strikes, and another one angry enough and stupid enough to join a terrorist organization as payback.
There's aid which only upholds the corrupt regimes we claim to fight in this country, and then there's aid that actually does something of value. Dan is doing a great job writing about how much more effective the latter can be.