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 neighborho