Right from the start, we were troubled by the
many fundraising appeals we received in the mail. So much money
seemed to go into the fundraising that there was little left for
the charity itself or so it seemed to us. We decided that 100% of
everything we collected would go to the Mexican poor. We would pay
for the printing, the stamps, the phone calls, the transportation
and all the rest. We also agreed that none of us would take a salary
or compensation of any kind. We knew this would limit what we could
do but it seemed worth it.
We also believed that our First World ways of
doing things were a product of our own culture and did not necessarily
apply to the Mexican poor we wanted to help. Thus, we decided that
it would be the poor who must lead us. We would have to be patient
as they, not we, decided what to do and how to do it. The first
surprise came when we learned that there was as big a gulf between
the Mexican middle and upper classes and the Mexican poor as there
was between the Mexican poor and us.
We did bring one unusual value with us. We were
haunted by the limits of human equality. What did that mean in practice?
In time as we recruited poor people to lead the projects and decided
that everyone would receive the same compensation whether they were
washing dishes or administering a project.
Finally, the model of friendship seemed
appropriate for us. VAMOS! would try to be friends with the Mexican
poor and wait until it became clear what ways we could help the
poor realize their dreams.