Hi Friends. Thanks to the few that took a moment to post a comment to my last question. Some of you expressed interest in know the right answer, sorry to disappoint, I’m not sure i have the right one. But I have several thoughts.
First of all, what I did in the situation was express my ‘condolences’ to her, and then I told her I was unable to help with any money at this time but that what i did have a was a spare sack of Maize flower for Ugali (the E African staple food; Jamie describes it as the consistency of day old malt-o-meal). So I asked if she’d like that and gave it to her. She was grateful, but I got the sense it wasn’t exactly what she was hoping for.
Secondly, the difficulty of the situation here is that i didn’t really have a good relationship with the family, in fact i basically had no relationship with the family. This, therefore led me to believe I was being asked on the basis of the fact that I’m an Mzungu (white). Which is not uncommon. I expect my friends to ask me for things, that’s what friends do here. But when a near stranger asks, one wonders what else is really going on, perhaps this is just unhelpful skeptisicm, i don’t really know. Further, as only a mild aquaintance I don’t have much basis for discussing with them the fact that if they are struggling with basic needs and yet both are going for university level or beyond education that perhaps there is a improper switching of priorities going on. Now of course, I’m not sure they see it like that. As westerners we are generally far more pragmatic about our education. In my limited experience ,education in E. Africa is esteemed so highly that it becomes an end in and of it itself and something to be done at all costs (perhaps including the well-being of your family). Whereas for many in the US at least education is the way to get somewhere else. Now many Africans tie education, as well, more closely to respect and authority and other things like that. Perhaps Americans do as well, I’m not sure, but it does seem to be more so here. But, anyway in returning to to the topic, I was not really able to suggest that perhaps it would be better to take care of basic needs and then worry about what i precieved to be ‘the not-as-essential things’ such as advanced education. Perhaps it would be helpful to go to school one at a time while the other works thus having the other parent able to support the family through work.
This leads to another interesting issue, namely doing things by faith or having faith in God to provide. And I’m not sure i have a good answer to this but at what point does the term ‘faith for God’s provision’ simple become a cloak for personal mismanagement, laziness and stupidity? I find the concept both here and in my home culture.
God is the provider of everything…that’s what the scriptures tell us, but then also we have this strong protestant work ethic floating around (which allegedly also has a Biblical basis; i haven’t studied it too much) which tips the scale the other way as well. Any ideas? Please comment if you have an idea.
Thanks for watching.