Tuesday, February 3, 2009



Sustainability is the current buzzword concerning project both domestic and foreign. Donors want to know whether their seed money or efforts can continue after initial funds or training subside. This is a reasonable request from the donor’s point of view, yet most projects fail to exist after the initial push. Samoa is a microcosm of this global problem.

A Peace Corps Volunteers spent most of her two years in Samoa obtaining and teaching computer skills in a small village. By all measures her time in the village was a great success. However after she left the computer center sat idle. When the villagers were asked why, they said they went to computer training to please the Peace Corps Volunteer.

Wanting to please a Peace Corps Volunteer, a gift giver, or your boss at work are really quite similar. People respect what the donor/boss expect. In the end people seem to revert to those behaviors, which they feel are in their own self-interest. Herein lies the challenge of sustainability, try and find out what projects are really meaningful to others, not just to you. It is a game we all play.

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