I have volunteered with various charities and non-profit organizations throughout the years including PTA, Boy Scouts of America, Rotary International, and the Newman Foundation. My experience with Children of the Americas, Inc. has been uniquely satisfying. Our volunteers act as team members, traveling to remote areas of Guatemala, as host parents to our stateside patients, and as state-side volunteers, transporting, sorting, and packing supplies for the yearly team. Some of these volunteers put in dozens, even hundreds of hours each year in order to assist COTA in providing medical and surgical services to women and children in Guatemala.
COTA’s challenges include the expected ones that go along
with annually organizing 120+ volunteers to provide medical services in Guatemala
to the women and children in need. Those
include many logistical ones such as procuring and shipping medical supplies, provider
credentialing within the Guatemalan Ministry of Health, in country transportation
of supplies and team to the site, making sure there is enough lodging available,
advertising and of course the political climate of a foreign country just to
name a few. One might wonder how we
manage to pull off such a successful event year after year and have a 90%
volunteer return. The network of our
volunteers across the board, in country and stateside and their ongoing
commitment is truly an amazing thing to witness and be a part of. That opportunity of providing a child or
woman in need with a small chance to succeed and or minimize a hardship keeps
everyone engaged. The biggest challenge
we as an organization face is the financial need to help support the
procurement and shipping of supplies to make our core mission a reality. We have focused a lot in the past few years
on ramping up our fundraising efforts with programs like Good Giving so that
our work doesn’t remain a “best kept secret”. It’s time to share in the successes of COTA’s mission and work allow
them the privilege we all are so proud of, to make a difference in the life of
a child or mother in need.
As a small non-profit in today’s world, Children of the Americas, Inc. (COTA) faces a myriad of challenges. The organization continually strives to meet those challenges and continue to provide quality medical and surgical care to indigent women and children in Guatemala.
The biggest challenge facing COTA is funding for our programs. Although we rely heavily on donated equipment, supplies and volunteer support, there are substantial costs that require financial support. These include transport of supplies to Guatemala, medicines for the team clinic, and passport and visa costs for children who travel to the U.S. from Guatemala for donated care. With so many non-profit organizations vying for available donor funds, COTA finds it increasingly difficult to secure the financial resources necessary to continue our mission.
Another challenge that COTA faces is logistical support, both here in the U.S. and in Guatemala. In the U.S., COTA depends largely on volunteers to coordinate supply donation and shipment. Although COTA is blessed with many wonderful team members and partners, busy lives and other commitments sometimes get in the way of volunteerism. Careful pre-planning and advance scheduling are necessary to maximize the available resources that the organization depends upon to succeed. In Guatemala the challenge is even greater. Again, COTA is blessed with dedicated partners, but the reality of life in Guatemala curtails volunteerism. More than 50% of the population lives in abject poverty, and even those who are gainfully employed struggle to feed their families on the low wages that are prevalent in that country. As a result, volunteerism necessarily takes a “back seat” to the basics of survival.
Another hurdle facing COTA’s work in Guatemala is the country’s financial infrastructure. Guatemala is very poor and their resources are scarce. Sadly, many of the public funds are re-routed by corrupt politicians. As a result, there are few resources to support healthcare for the indigent. When COTA arrives on site for the annual team, the hospitals are unable to provide even the most rudimentary support, and often look to COTA for assistance. Poorly maintained buildings, broken equipment, and inadequate supplies are the norm, and provide enormous challenges to the team on their annual trip. As a result, COTA operates very much as a MASH unit, transporting its own equipment and supplies to the site to ensure efficient quality care to the patients.
Indirect Public Support HelpIndirect public support represents revenue received through solicitation campaigns. This includes funding United Way and other federated fundraising organizations, but does not include donor designated contributions.
Earned Revenue HelpEarned revenue represents income generated in direct exchange for a product or service.Earned income includes income from government contracts.
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