When a handout hinders.
Mozambique was and still is one of the poorest countries in the world. Over the past 9 years we have seen the economy of Mozambique improve yet many people still live in absolute poverty. How can we help these people? The answer for many Mozambicans is to look to other nations to give them a handout. They want to be given houses, food, vehicles, schools, churches, hospitals, businesses etc…. but does this actually help? From a donor's perspective it depends on the desired outcome, if handouts are given by donors in an attempt to make the donor feel they have done something, it does help. If the donors desire is to help a nation stand on their own two feet, a handout can hinder the objective. For the recipient it does help - momentarily. And there in lies the problem - it is not sustainable and perpetuates the lie that the only way to help developing nations is to give enough handouts to 'get them started'.
Harts for Africa
11:33 PM Harts for Africa 0 Comments
An example of how handouts do not help is by building a water system to supply a town with clean drinking water. A wonderful objective, but if outsiders come and do it, within a relatively short period of time the whole system will break down due to a lack of maintenance. Because the people expected to maintain the water system (recipient) are not the ones who sacrificed to build it (donor). The recipients have little sense of ownership, nor do they understand the importance or methods of preventative maintenance and in may cases they believe it is the donor's responsibility to do maintenance not their's.
To understand what I am saying consider two seventeen year old boys, both want a car, one boy's parents give him a car, the other boy's parents help their son find a job to buy his own car. Which son has learnt the most and which son is more likely to care for his car? One lesson learnt by buying their own car is delayed gratification. The power of achieving a goal over time. Not borrowing to have it now and working later, but the power of saving first and buying later.
We have met many in Mozambique who have decided that the answer to meeting their financial needs lies in relationships with people from the west. The view is that westerners have no end of resources. The Mozambican establishes friendship with the view that "the westerner is my friend so I can benefit from them". If a donor (friend) helps them build a school, The recipient can take some as a wage and "borrow" some to build their house, buy a car and gain an increase in their standard of living. Some have worked out that the church is very generous so to build a church comes with the same benefits.
These people have little idea what those donors in the west have sacrificed to assist them nor do they know the amount of hours people put in at work and the expected output during those hours. When a third world nation catches that it is hard work and creative, progressive thinking that creates a better standard of living they grow. Take China and Korea for instance both these nations have an expectation that people will work hard and both nations have huge increases in recent decades in their GDP.
I believe every time a person is given a free lunch it reinforces that their provision will appear, dependent on who they know, and that it is not dependent on how hard they work.
The answer lies in that we should be looking for ways to educate, encourage, train and equip a nation to identify and problem solve their needs which in turn give long term benefits that are not reliant on the continual handouts from other nations. This is the way to help which benefits both the donor and the giver and is sustainable in the long term.
I had one of those but the wheel came off!
Harts for Africa
8:30 PM Harts for Africa 0 Comments
I was 400km from home looking to repair the radiator in my car. I searched all over Harare to find someone to repair it, only to be told that it needed to be replaced. So a new search started for a radiator, one place no stock, second place over $1000, third place no stock, 4th place yes we have one but the top and bottom tanks need to be swapped with your existing radiator. That's no problem a guy can do that for me that afternoon. I arrived radiator in tow only for him to discover the radiators were slightly different and the tanks wouldn't fit.
The next day I went back to return the radiator, then it happened that I entered a pothole and didn't come out! The front ball joint in my car let go and basically the wheel fell off. I was in a different country than I live, so I start trying to think who can help? I contact Kim, stay calm and think what do I do? How long will the repairs take? Who can repair it? How do I get home to teach Bible College on Friday? How do I pay for the repairs?
I remembered a friend who lived in Mozambique near us a few years back (like 5 years) who now runs a business in Harare. I called him to ask if he knows a mechanic, he does more than that; he organized a tow to a mechanic who specializes in Toyotas and imports his own parts. Three days later we were back home in time to teach that afternoon.
God blessed me in so many ways.
1) The wheel fell off at 40k/h, the next day I was planning to return home at a top speed of 120km/h and that would have been nasty.
2) I was 3km from the mechanic's workshop. In Mozambique the closest mechanic to us is 180km away.
3) I had the unexpected opportunity to have lunch and reconnect with an old friend.
4) I have the bill delayed until I find the money to pay it.
5) The ministry did not suffer due to the down time of the car being repaired.
6) The repair took 3 days. It could take 6 weeks at best in Mozambique.
7) I finally know who can fix my car.
8) Nobody was hurt.
9) My car feels like a new vehicle, the whole front end is reconditioned.
10) It was the final straw that drove Kim and I to fast for 10 days and press into God.
11) In 6 weeks time the mechanic will have a new radiator for me and the stop leak has worked as a patch.
As my friend dropped me back to where I was staying, I started to count my blessings. He said that's the difference with Christians, we can see the good in a bad situation. That comment made me feel good.
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