A Blueprint for Building
By MARCO CACERES
Posted on Sat, Nov. 03, 2007
Within the communities dedicated to poverty alleviation,
social justice and economic development throughout
the world, people are focused on the United Nations'
Millennium Development Goals. The idea of halving
extreme poverty by 2015 has been pushed by celebrities
such as Bono of the rock band U2 and actress Angelina
Jolie, as well as academics such as economist Jeffrey
Sachs, who has popularized the cause with his book,
The End of Poverty.
The eight goals seek to vastly improve the lot of
those on Earth who are barely able to survive, much
less be healthy and productive citizens. Of the eight,
I believe that the most important one is No. 8, which
seeks to ``develop a global partnership for development.''
Its importance lies in that it is really less a ''goal''
and more of a vehicle by which to facilitate the attainment
of the other seven goals. If we can successfully develop
a true global partnership for development, then everything
else suddenly becomes so much easier.
Think about it: Everybody everywhere working selflessly
hand in hand to empower our less fortunate brothers
and sisters, regardless of race, creed, nationality
or political party. It's a great concept, a wonderfully
idealistic vision of how to fix what ails and endangers
Everybody talks enthusiastically about eradicating
extreme poverty and hunger, achieving universal primary
education, promoting gender equality and empowering
women, reducing child mortality, improving maternal
health, combating HIV/AIDS and other diseases such
as malaria and ensuring environmental sustainability.
But the conversation seldom revolves around building
Yes, there are vague acknowledgments that the goals
will be achieved only by working together. However,
nowhere have I heard or seen a blueprint, a strategic
plan for implementing the development of these partnerships
. . . at least not outside of Honduras.
There are thousands of civic clubs, universities,
churches, government agencies, medical brigades, companies,
hospitals and other groups providing support to the
Honduran people and covering all the areas specified
by the U.N. goals. A sizable portion of these groups
are from Canada and the United States, several particularly
from Florida. Most of them generally do not coordinate
or share resources with each other. Sadly, this is
the norm worldwide, rather than the exception.
The difference is that in Honduras there already
is a dedicated movement intent on changing this situation
where social development professionals, community
leaders, humanitarians and volunteers are working
The movement is being fueled by the online network
projecthonduras.com and the annual Conference on Honduras
in the town of Copán Ruinas.
A total of eight Conferences on Honduras have been
held, attracting more than 1,000 individuals who represent
more than 500 organizations. All the conferences have
focused on education, healthcare and community building,
with the central purpose being to better understand
the projects underway and to find ways to complement
efforts and learn from each others' successes and
failures. The latest conference took place in mid-October.
The Conference on Honduras 2007 brought together
more than 230 people from some 115 groups, including
Rotary Clubs, the Episcopal Church and the U.S. Army.
The event, whose theme was ''Caring for the Children
of Honduras,'' featured more than 50 speakers as part
of eight panels and three stand-alone presentations.
Unlike many conferences that seek to address national
issues and problems, the Conference on Honduras is
not about what needs to be done. It's rather about
how what is currently being done can be improved,
carried out more efficiently by sharing our ''human
capital'' -- things such as time, energy, contacts,
experience, expertise, knowledge and talents. The
conference is all about this extremely underrated
concept known as ''networking'' and creating partnerships,
which is precisely what goal No. 8 seeks to achieve.
The reality is that the blueprint for this most important
of the eight Millennium Development Goals exists --
and Honduras is the model.
Marco Cáceres is co-founder of projecthonduras.com,
an online network dedicated to coordinating education,
health and social projects in Honduras.