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The Money Flow In An Indigenous Community And Valuing Yourself

by on January 7, 2012

in Happiness, Happy Nomad Tour, Panama, Purpose

Cash Flow Tap Spewing DollarsJessica, the awesome Peace Corps Volunteer I stayed with in Chichica, Panama just wrote this amazing article about where the money flows in her community.

It’s an insightful and spectacular analysis I highly recommend you check out.

I like visiting indigenous communities because they have a very different way of life. Though the experiences I’ve had in these communities don’t match what I expected when I started this trip back in August, they are still an infinite source of inspiration and amazement.

But these communities I have visited have been very contaminated by… us? I don’t know how to define who has done the contamination, but these communities now live a hybrid lifestyle with one foot in the “modern” world and its problems, and the other foot in their world and their problems.

The whole article presents a bit of an allegory for the direction the world is headed in as less and less money spent locally actually benefits the local economy. There are some make-local/buy-local movements happening in developed countries and maybe things are changing. But in developing countries, I feel the opposite is true.

As I read her article, the part about the Tamale Ladies really struck me – particularly the part about the ladies not placing a value on their own time.

Yes, it’s a foregone conclusion that our time has value in the “modern” world. You grow up with this concept and often first get exposed to it as a teenager being valued at the bottom of the wage-earning totem pole.

I just find it interesting that while there is so much protesting happening all over the world against the current economic paradigm, where a CEO can make hundreds of times more than the average worker, that in many ways these indigenous ladies have it right.

How is it that a society obsessed with material possessions, marketing designed to manipulate people into acquiring things that aren’t needed to assuage emptiness, and depression on an unparalleled scale is exporting its economic model and way of life to a people that, more or less, don’t suffer from these problems?

As I discussed in my experience volunteering with a medical brigade in Honduras, sometimes what we offer to the “poor” just makes them poorer, when we should really be listening to them and learning from them.

I think this is just another example.

Certainly both sides have things to learn from each other. No one person or culture has all the answers. But collectively we probably do.

About Adam Pervez

In mid-2011 I left my cushy corporate job and took the plunge into a life incorporating my passions of traveling, writing, volunteering, learning, educating, and telling stories. I study what happiness means to others, offer what I can from my engineering/MBA background as a volunteer, and try to leave each place better than how I found it. Read more.

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