Two years ago, I had the great privilege of leading a team of twelve other men on a mission trip to Northern Uganda to help build the Village of Hope. The Village of Hope is a place where displaced children are now being housed, educated and cared for in a loving environment. Last night, as we’ve done once a month for the last year a group of us served at I Am Hope Cafe where we fed the homeless and underprivileged supper. Having been involved in numerous events in the states to help the poor and remembering back to the Uganda trip leaves me scratching my head, wondering why we treat the situations so differently??
In Uganda, we were strictly prohibited from giving people things for nothing. We were told to be careful not to give the workers we hired too much for their work because it would upset the local economy. Everything at the Village is driven by allowing the people to become self sustaining. They are taught to farm their land, taught skills, given dignity and the ability to sustain themselves.
In the USA, almost every endeavor I’ve seen does just the opposite. It gives handouts with no expectation of people becoming self sufficient. I’ve heard on many, many occasions people come to eat at the I Am Hope Cafe and complain about what we were serving that night.
I watch many hours of planning, many hours of manpower and much human and financial resources go into Feed The Bay, an effort to give food to local food pantries. I would love to see the same resources invested in a “Uganda type” approach. How do we attack the real problems that are becoming epidemic in this country that lead to perpetual poverty. I’m not talking about the hard working people who find themselves effected by the economic downturn, I’m talking about people who have learned to live off the system, who have chosen or inherited a nonproductive lifestyle that expects someone else to take care of them.
If I ever saw people live in perpetual poverty who could use a handout it was the villages in northern Uganda, but we didn’t want to create dependency there? So, what may I ask is the difference here?
Since writing this blog I saw John Stossel’s piece on freeloading in America and I believe it is very pertinent to my thoughts. There are numerous parts but here is the link to part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FZAKpBcKxak&feature=related
I’m scratching my head!!