As a US citizen working for a small environmental NGO in Guatemala, I endorse the views expressed in Charles Lane’s op-ed (August 20), that increased aid to help consolidate social progress would benefit both Guatemalans and their northern neighbors. In Santiago, a town of 53,000 located on the shores of Lake Atitlan, there is a vibrant and motivated young population seeking education, training and work opportunities but without the means to kick-start those ambitions. TRL, like many other small businesses and charities here, is ready and willing to expand our activities and reach.
TRL’s mission is to confront the environmental, health and development challenges which threaten local livelihoods. Working mainly with female beneficiaries, through our Improved Cookstove Project we install and maintain energy efficient cookstoves to reduce firewood use and household air pollution. Put in the context of migration, safeguarding Guatemalan forests, empowering women and increasing economic resilience among families are feats that organizations like TRL depend on aid to accomplish. Moreover, harnessing local talent to implement projects addressing said social and environmental challenges is key piece of non-profit models throughout Guatemala. Increasing aid will not hinder ambition, nor should it, but it will ensure that those moving on will do so with enhanced skillsets and more to offer.