Building a refurbished playground in the Dominican Republic


If he’d given $30,000 in cash, would the school have spent it on a fancy american-style playground? Plus plane fare and accommodation costs for volunteers. Or would they have found more pressing issues to address had they been free to spend the money themselves? This kind of charity always strikes me as odd.


In no way do I mean to belittle the efforts of this group - any effort put forth to improve the quality of life of people anywhere is a welcome effort to be celebrated - but as a Dominican, I feel that this account of the playground installation tries very hard to make the effort seem herculean because of the environment there. Bonao? Dangerous? I guess if you hang out by the highway plazas where all of the transients (read: not locals) hang out, waiting to vitimize some poor sap with awful situational awareness. I’m not victim-blaming, no victim ever ‘deserves’ victimization, but to characterize a place by its worst element is no different than saying, ‘all ______ people are ______, because the worst of them are observed to be so’.

Adding the bit about mosquitos and fire ants is where I lost it - I’ve had far more mosquito and fire-ant bites in Broward County, Florida. And the ‘armed guards walk[ing] the parking lot’, those are what we call ‘Wachiman’, like ‘Watchy - Man’- usually an able-bodied local male in his 30’s who is otherwise unemployed and volunteers to pace the perimeter of a property for tips, usually carrying a sawed-off broomstick. Nothing wrong with entrepreneurship and initiative, but these are not paid police officers. In really tony neighborhoods, usually where the touristy nightclubs are, the wachiman might have an old Kalashnikov (probably unloaded) strapped to his person, along with a jumpsuit and a cap, but again, it’s just security theater to encourage people to feel comfortable parking their luxury cars outside.

Sorry for the rant, I just had a strong ‘Brian Williams’-esque reaction to this, depicting a country where you can shop at IKEA before happy hour at TGI Friday’s as something of a war-zone.


Burt: “What about the poor?”
Anton: “Turns out they didn’t want magic: They just wanted food and clean water.”
Burt: “Ugh. Fools!”


You know what strikes me as odd? People who spend time complaining about how other people perform charity work instead of performing charity work.


Then go to the DR and throw some money around in a manner you approve.

Yet you spent the next boring three paragraphs of whining pretty much doing just that.

The both of you should have just kept your holes shut.

I think this is a great story and appreciated what this guy did with his time/money.


I can see an argument for both, for meeting the highest priority needs, and for providing something luxurious that they would have probably never bought for themselves. I’m thinking of it like getting cash and gift cards at Christmas time when you’re having a rough time financially. There’s joy in both. The practical folks who get you a Wal-Mart card you can use to buy cheap groceries and other every day necessities give you something you totally need and it’s great to not have to sweat groceries and toilet paper this week. The folks that give you cash, it’s going to end up going into the general budget fund for boring necessities, like probably toward the rent or into the gas tank. The other folks get you a gift card for something more frivolous and that means that you get to treat yourself to that luxury you wouldn’t have on your own strained budget. You wouldn’t have gone out to the theater to see a new release movie without the movie gift card. You wouldn’t have gone out to the nice restaurant without the nice restaurant gift card. You’d never have paid to get your nails done. But you love the treat when it’s a gift. It gets to be a cool rare splurge that way that would have never found a way to happen in the ordinary budget.

Yes, and this piece was written by a person from the the One Desk Foundation:

Did anyone ASK the people at the school what was really needed ? A playground might be the greatest thing ever for the kids at the school - but it might have been a big deal thing that folks from the USA do to make themselves feel better, that looks good, that leave the local residents scratching and shaking their heads.

Complaining about charity work? Not quite, I certainly don’t have 30k to spare… and its lovely that these folks do.

But I can imagine the impact of 30k worth of soccer balls vs shipping a bloody giant jungle gym and volunteers. And that’s assuming that the schools wouldn’t be better off with some new books or something.

I once ran into a young woman on her way to Africa on a ‘charity trip’. When I asked her what she was doing, she replied ‘planting gardens’. Lovely… are you a farmer? No. Are you a botanist? No. So you’re spending 10k to travel to Africa to help them plant things because… well why? you’ve got no useful skills… I suppose folks in Africa are starving because they can’t get seeds into the ground… thank god for your help.

Lets just suppose that the folks in this story just hired local labor instead to build their playground, injecting money into the local economy rather than paying thousands in travel costs.

So what we end up with is another masturbatory quasi-charity where some rich kids can feel good about themselves going off to help the savage natives get a playground in the scary wild country. Like no child can enjoy themselves without a giant play structure, thanks. Meanwhile, back to your underfunded school…

1 Like

This topic was automatically closed after 5 days. New replies are no longer allowed.