But back to the ladies. They had given me a nice necklace that they had made, clearly in hopes that I’d bring them some clothes. And I really want to be generous. I’d love to come in like some silly female Santa Claus and give everyone a gift from my giant bag. But I don’t really think that would be right. There is often in the back of my mind, the principles of “When Helping Hurts”. That we are only increasing dependency and in the long run we are harming people when we think we are helping. Over and over in Karamoja I’ve seen the damage done by well intentioned NGOs giving away free stuff. It was described to me this way: Great harm can come from the best of intentions when done without wisdom and discernment. It seems like a paradox but kindness and good intentions can be an insidious path to destruction. The following parable, though obvious and over simplified helped me understand the problem the k-jung are having.
“Say a person hurts their leg. You bring them food while they heal. After time they still don’t wish to get up because it hurts at first. So you continue to be kind and bring them food. Over time their injured leg develops contractures from lack of use and it is even more painful to get up so you continue to bring them food. In the end they are permanently bedridden, unable to walk again because of your kindness. Goodness brought significant harm.
The k-jung have become so dependent on others for food, goods and seeds, help, everything, yet their lack only fuels their anger at the outside world. Generosity and very good intentions have encouraged laziness and a feeling of lack of personal worth creating a whole tribe’s indolence. The more help they receive, the more help they expect and think they need, the more they hate. As long as the kindness is so open ended they don’t gain discipline, dignity or self-reliance. Our kindness actually impoverishes their humanity!!
Ugh, all of this struggle over 60 ladies who would like some second hand skirts….
What do it do?
I’m headed to Karamoja in an hour. I expect to be back at the end of the week.