Some years ago, I met a fellow who lived near me. City grown
person. He grew up in a welfare home. I grew up in the suburbs.
I decided to see if I could coach him in some better ways to
do things. What I found was that everything he did came with a
big list of reasons. Which reasons made no sense to me. And
everything I suggested was declined for a big list of reasons.
Which list of reasons made no sense to me. And so twenty years
later, the only thing I accomplished was to have wasted a lot of
time and money and effort. And some antacids based on
frustration. Twenty years later he had fewer teeth and a couple
heart attacks from smoking and fatty dieet of city foods. The tax
payer had paid for most of his cigs, and had paid for his couple
days in the hospital and is presently paying for all his medication.
When I met hin, his idea of how to spend time was to stand on
the front porch with a cigarette and cordless phone, and chat
with the people walking by. When I said good bye to him, he
was standing on the front porch with a cigarette, and cordless
phone, chatting with the people going by.
I don't plan to go to Africa any time in my life.
Christopher A. Young
Learn more about Jesus
I had the same missgivings when I was in Africa (Zambia) 40 years ago.
Was it effective for me to be there teaching when they had their own
people who were capable of teaching - but could make more money
working in private business because I was willing to be there
basically teaching for nothing??? Might it not have been better to
work towards getting their own people involved rather than having Cuso
volunteers do the job? The CIDA funded directors of the program had a
pretty nice gig going that they were not too interested in working
their way out of. Can't complain about sun 9 months of the year,
cheap beer, and a relatively easy expatriate lifestyle, along with a
good salary and "hardship bonus".
For my part, I tried to instill in my students a sense of
responsibility, and a sense of PRIDE - so that they might consider
teaching others - passing on the knowlege they were SO FORTUNATE to
have the opportunity to have provided for them. I have to believe
that at least a few of my 35 students went on to be a positive
influence in their world. After 2 years I came home with empty
pockets, but a lifetime of experiences to look back on.
My later time in Burkina Faso I sometimes also had to wonder if there
was any point to being there. The people group I was involved in had
real trust issues - they didn't trust each other farther than they
could throw each other - and with good reason - as honesty was not a
commodity in great supply. My friends had, by that time, been working
with this group for about 17 years, and had been really questioning if
anything was getting through. While I was there they found out about
some serious duplicity and deciet that was causing serious problems in
the community. They had to leave the community a year or so later, if
for no other reason than to preserve their sanity - although health
was the more significant force. They still had contact and were still
working with the community, although not living in the community.
Going back 10 or more years later, the whole fabric of the village has
changed - they are more trusting and trustworthy - and along with that
they are becoming more self sufficient and prosperous, and more
healthy. They had an influence - and they had to step back and let it
perculate for a while.