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Sunday, March 9, 2008

Ambivalence

Last week a certain aspect of my work rose to meet me in the face. Now, working in the semi-urban areas of Lilongwe where poverty is so apparent you slowly "get used" to the conditions. The good thing about that "getting used to" is you don't see the people as stats but as people just like you. They talk about rent, I talk about rent. They quarrel with their neighbors, well, I'd love to quarrel with mine but I don't actually know my neighbors, we share similar experiences on relationships, etc.

Now in the midst of all that I had shelved it at the back of my mind that we have a lot of sponsors for our projects who reside in the Western world. A bunch of them came to Malawi recently (my first personal encounter with sponsors since I started work here) and even though I know they are doing what's helpful, I ended up feeling pitiful as I identified with the people in the projects. The particular thing was the collection of pictures, I know these people in the pictures so personally that I am concerned at the pity their pictures will generate abroad. All they need is an extra hand and not pity. They don't need tears, they need a meeting table where ideas could be exchanged. Equal opportunity for input on things concerning their future.
What to do when there is need for empowerment for the poor and at the same time there are people out there with money to give to them to meet the needs they really have?

Wisdom where art thou?

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