We visited some friends the other day in what we call "The Village." He broke his leg riding his motorcycle a few months ago. Prior to that he was a security guard at an apartment complex making $200 a month full time. He hasn't been able to work since he broke his leg. We were talking with them about some of the possible projects to help the neighborhood that they live in and I looked in their kitchen. It was bare so I asked them if they had food. They both looked at me and shook their heads. I looked at their two daughters, hungry, desperate.
You can't drive a car into where the live. We have to park about a half mile away and walk into their neighborhood. Motorcycles are able to make it in but there aren't really any roads. We descend down into a river bottom and we pass hundreds, probably thousands of people as we get there. Sometimes when we go there if I haven't protected myself spiritually I can feel a weight descend upon me. I pass so many people with nothing. So many people with hunger. You might say it's in my head but I don't think it is. The desperation is palpable. It is a weight on the shoulder of any who pass and it causes my back to bow and my heart to break. This is what I walk through to help teach reading classes. This is what I pass to visit my friends.
" Is there anything you can do to work or make money?" Marisa asked them. Our friend said she can do hair and there are a lot of people that will pay her a little to do their hair but she needed a nice blow dryer. I looked at Marisa and tried to figure out what she thought we should do.
Generally we try not to give handouts. We want to empower people that we work with and handouts aren't generally a good thing. We read a book called "When Helping Hurts" before coming here. It talks a lot about the harm that service can have on the people receiving the service. Handouts have a place but they are not a long term fix. Generally the time for a handout is during an emergency. When a tsunami ravages a city, it needs emergency assistance, not a long term empowerment plan.
Did the broken leg count as an emergency situation? We were prayerful and we felt like it did so we decided to hike back out of the neighborhood, buy some food, and get them a blow dryer so they could try to have some form of income. As we hiked back in to the neighborhood, I could feel the weight of desperation surround me again. We walked past hundreds of hungry people to alleviate the hunger of our friends. It felt good to be able to help. At the same time, I felt guilt.
Guilt because I couldn't help more people.
I would like to give you some wisdom here about how we need to focus on what we can do, or that we were happy that we could help at least someone but I can't say that right now. Maybe sometime down the road after I have gained some wisdom and inspiration I can come back and tell you that it's all OK but I can't right now.
There are too many that are hungry, and too many that hurt. There are too many children that are slaves. There is too much war and too much sickness...... and I am small and weak and one man and we are one family. It can be overwhelming and I am overwhelmed right now, and feel of pain for those that feel pain, and sickness for those that feel sickness and it hurts right now.
Living a Good Story