The Daily WORD is LISTEN
Africa is littered with rusty, broken water pumps. The relief orgs that provided the pumps moved on without instructions on how to repair them or a supply of replacement parts. Your charity dollars at work.
Women in a barren part of Africa walked four hours each way, every other day, for jugs of dirty water. Infant mortality was high, and the women had little time for anything except trekking for water. A charity dug a clean-water well in the village. Infant mortality dropped dramatically. The walk for water is a mere block. A development expert asked a silly question: What does the new well mean to you? Instead of hearing, “Our babies have stopped dying and we no longer have to trek for water every other day,” he heard, “We no longer have miscarriages caused by falling on the steep, rocky trek, and we are no longer attacked by wild animals.”
A few years ago, feeling qualified to “help” because of my new certification to teach English as a second language, I asked a mission director if I could provide an HIV/AIDS awareness training I had developed for English language learners. He said, “Everyone wants to provide HIV/AIDS education; everyone is providing it. I need someone to take care of my people who are dying of AIDS.”
So much for being helpful. The third world is a humbling place. Like I am going to get anywhere near someone in the final agonizing stages of disease. Despite my ever-growing ignorance and refusal to face Some Hard Things, I find development work fascinating. Sometimes, we get it right. The only way to get it right is to tuck our advanced degrees and university research under the nearest peepal tree and LISTEN.