I might as well start with the most interesting photo, though I won’t actually tell you about the spitting cobra until later in the post (skip to there, I suppose, if you’re anxious)….
I spent a couple of days this last week in Mwakiwasha village. [You guys are familiar with Mwakiwasha village; we did a couple of photo tours there a while back: mwanza to mwakiwasha and a visit in mwakiwasha village.] The whole family went out Monday, mostly just to greet everyone, though we also worked out some dates for vaccinating chickens, harvesting rice, and having the interns stay a few days. It was Harper’s first village visit ever, and our friends were very happy to meet her.
Yesterday, though, my visit was for some farm work. Continue reading
From (The Customer is) Not Always Right:
GROCERY STORE | DALTON, GA, USA
(A woman comes up to me while I’m taking down the dried out, bad corn from the display.)
Customer: “You just throw those away?”
Me: “Yep, we have to throw out the bad ones.”
Customer: “You mean they don’t donate it to the poor or anything?”
Me: “Well, no. Our store does donate to the unfortunate, but it’s usually money or fresh product.”
Customer: “But poor people are used to eating bad food! They eat out of the trash all the time! You don’t have to give them good food!”
Although an extreme example, I believe this is representative of how we often operate when giving to the poor. I suppose it stems from combining egocentrism and the dominant worldview of scarcity. It’s not that this lady wanted the old corn for herself, or even that she wanted new corn that would now be unavailable — it’s that she didn’t want the good corn “wasted” on the poor. We desire to preserve what’s valuable, while giving away what’s not. We aspire to sacrifice, yet are unwilling for it to cost us more than that with which we were already willing to part. And we donate our leftovers, but only so we not be seen as wasteful.
God, help us to share willingly. Make us cheerful givers. Empower us to to bless others from our hearts — and not only from our surplus.
While in Dar waiting for Baylor’s arrival, I’ve gotten the chance to do quite a bit of reading. I’m especially enjoying a book on agricultural development called Two Ears of Corn by Roland Bunch. Because I feel our team’s strategy for mission is often misunderstood, and the term development exchanged for, or used synonymously with, words like aid and relief, I thought I would give Bunch’s definition. While not flashy, it says a lot:
Development is basically a process whereby people learn to participate constructively in the solving of their own problems. The driving force behind this participation is enthusiasm; the direction in which the people must move is toward gradually increasing participation; and the goal is that the program itself gradually be lost in, and replaced by, a totally participatory movement of the people, by the people, and eminently for the people.
Also from Two Ears, development is not to be confused with handouts, giveaways, and accomplishing tasks for the locals. These strategies often…
- convince locals they are incapable of making progress themselves, creating a sense of dependency and inadequacy
- bring the residents to a point where they expect to be given anything they need — or have it done for them
- create bitter divisions when one village is assisted to the exclusion of their neighbors
- blind locals to the importance of learning to solve problems themselves
- destroy the possibility of there ever existing a multiplier effect
- do not allow locals to learn by doing, or to learn at all
- fail to achieve permanence
- are extremely expensive
“You can give people so many fish that they lose all interest in learning to fish.”
In essence, when we seek to give things away or accomplish tasks ourselves, because we think it’s faster or easier or believe the locals are incapable of helping themselves, we handicap them. In my short time in East Africa, I have already witnessed this dozens of times — well-intentioned groups from the West crippling small communities of people while attempting to assist them.
Over the next few weeks I’ll be writing a more complete description of our strategy for ministry. But I just thought Roland said this so well…