The problem isn't that I know what's best, it's that you do to and so does everyone else. If only we weren't all wrong...
It used to be missionaries, and foreign aid workers (the secular goody-goodies don't get let off the hook either), would role into town see how jacked up everything was (a.k.a. non-western) and start "fixing"things. Schools and hospitals got built, infrastructure was improved, the heathens were converted and taught how to dress properly (seriously hate whoever thought this was a good idea... the clothing part), and the locals were exposed to an amazing new world. Good, right? Mostly, but not without a cost.
Unrealized, or ignored, was the reality that most of the programs were transplanted western solutions for western problems. The local culture, the one the liberals were so distraught about the west destroying, remained alive and well. The clothing and language may have changed, as happens with all cultures, but the mindsets, values, and concepts of logic remained mostly untouched. Pastors and politicians became the new chiefs, witchdoctors did business right along side the hospitals and churches, and the same food was grown and eaten as always (often a great tragedy to my mouth, and the overall health of many communities. At least in east Africa). Mosquito nets were used as fishing nets, Catholic educated and converted children went back to subsistence farming and traditional religions when they graduated, religious tracts were used for toilet paper, and new schemes were born to scam the foreigners, often to the deprivation of those they came to help.
The enlightened solution? Let the locals tell the foreigners how to help them, after all, they're the ones who know their lives the best and will have to live with the consequences. This would be a great solution if it wasn't for the slight problem that the way they've been doing things doesn't work so well either. There is a reason the Third World is the Third World. I'll give you a hint, it isn't because capitalism hosed them or because colonialism stole from them (though these things may have happened).
Knowing how things work in the U.S. is not the same as knowing how to fix things in Mexico or Uganda - it's a good place to start though. I'm with an American organization that's been involved with a Ugandan ministry for the last seven years or so. Over those years both organizations have learned they are right about issues and arguments about as often as they are wrong. Through the often difficult relationship both organizations have improved and learned better how to serve and minister to the community. Neither side was qualified to fix everything that was broken, but together they have made a decent effort in the small community.
It's freaking difficult to tie your laces with one hand, you kinda need two to make a go of it. Effective missions, short or long term, depend on relationship much more than "right"answers.
Some simple truths #2: Unless you live somewhere, you don't know what it's like to live there. Books, past experiences, and theory my help you get your bearing and a starting point, but they won't fix anything or tell you about your new neighbor. Likewise, just because you have always crapped in the front yard, given kickbacks to the "big men", and circumcise your daughters doesn't mean that's the way things should be.
If you role into someones home, tell them what's wrong with it, and how you are going to fix it, you have earned "Mass Douche-bag" status. Even if you are right, you are still a D-bag. Please don't set the tone for the rest of us or paint the picture of a frat boy Jesus cruising through town dixie cupping it with a popped collar pink polo. I'm still trying to convince people you don't need to wear a three piece suit to be a christian and it's best to keep the mosquitoes outside, I'd rather not deal with your wreckage.