We spend a lot of time thinking about the effects of mixing our Western values with other cultures and whether what we perceive as a good life is what a Goan villager would perceive as a good life. Do we have a right to change other people’s lifestyles in the name of progress? Even if the villagers want progress? Do we have a right not too?

In this minefield, Helping Elsewhere has settled on a number of core principles.

  1. We don’t feel comfortable with a ‘Top Down’ approach at all. That is, we refuse to know better than the people already running the show. Who instinctively know the political pitfalls, the advantages of one approach over another, people’s sensitivities, religious nuances and the myriad of different factors that determine why what is ‘obvious’ to us isn’t the correct way to do things.
  2. Allied to this is the stipulation that we don’t start or run any projects at all. We only work with existing organisations. We always ask the local people who do run them what is needed and then do our best to raise funds or do whatever is necessary.
  3. We constantly run a mental calculator over everything we do or assist in to make sure it complies with our own, and your, moral values – even if it is acceptable locally. Luckily, we have never been tested on this one!

In summary we hope to change lives in the best and purest ways possible.