TecNica was founded in 1983 as a people-to-people aid program to send technical and professional volunteers from developed countries to provide training, consulting, and hands-on assistance to developing nations. The intent of TecNica’s volunteer program was to promote social justice and economic development in developing countries.
TecNica’s model was unique for its time. The model was based on recruiting volunteers trained in professional and technical skills who financed their own travel to and stay in the country where they would work. TecNica placed them in work projects appropriate to their skills for short time periods (typically, two to three weeks). This limited time period permitted volunteers to take vacations or short-term leave from their primary employment in developed countries, enabling them to return eventually to their jobs.
A TecNica Volunteer’s primary focus was to provide hands-on training and consulting in projects designed and controlled by local grassroots organizations and government agencies. Training of local staff centered around new skills, problem solving, and operation, repair, and maintenance of equipment, both hardware and software. TecNica used highly skilled volunteers of conscience to train present and future agriculturalists, teachers, scientists, doctors, health care workers, engineers, lawyers, and administrators.
TecNica worked with international and local non-governmental development organizations, schools, training centers, and government ministries, wherever these coincided with TecNica’s commitment to apply appropriately scaled techniques and solutions to indigenous, long-term projects that contributed to fundamental change that benefitted the poor majority.
TecNica’s role of providing short-term skilled technicians complemented the work of other international and local development organizations which provided infrastructure, financing, and personnel. TecNica offered recruitment, orientation, and logistical services to meet a wide variety of technical needs. For every dollar that TecNica spent to recruit, place, and coordinate the work of specialized volunteers, projects received an average of $10 worth of development assistance.
TecNica Volunteers financed their own travel and stay in the destination country. To finance the work of its own staff in recruitment, orientation, project placement, housing, logistics, etc., for a sizable volunteer program, TecNica developed relationships with individual donors and funding agencies.
To learn more about TecNica’s work in Nicaragua and Southern Africa, visit our page on TecNica Volunteers at Work.
Reagan Administration Reaction to TecNica Volunteers Efforts
By 1987, TecNica volunteer work was at least threatening enough to the Reagan Administration that FBI agents began to show up at the work places of some of the returned volunteers. One volunteer, who taught Nicaraguan Cultural Workers how to use Microsoft Office programs, was visited at her workplace at Oracle here in the U.S. by FBI Agents. This type of activity was viewed as harassment to discourage future volunteers.
We have reproduced this article on our local page: TecNica Volunteers Harrassed at their Workplaces.
Click below to view the original article on the Los Angeles Times archival web site. Thanks to the Los Angeles Times for this coverage and for allowing us to reproduce it here.
Visitors to Nicaragua Target of FBI Scrutiny : Questioning at Their Jobs Seen as Harassment of Foes of Reagan Policies
Thankfully, these were the only incidents of which we were aware of government harrassment or inquiries into the volunteer work done by TecNica Volunteers.
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