Does Helping Help?
I want to piggy back off a blog written by our friend here in Uganda, Smooth Via. The Via Family is working in Uganda doing amazing things for the Kingdom of God. You should really take the time to read his story "When Helping Helps", it will be uplifting to your day.
I totally agree with Smooth on this point, sometimes helping does help! On the flip side sometimes “helping” does hurt. It is all about empowerment of the people and what they do with the help you provide. Smooth’s example is a beautiful example of someone rising up and helping themselves and it inspired me to share this story.
I want to introduce you to one of the Jajas in the village we are currently serving in. She always greets us should be free through the local clinic. However, the love of money and the struggle for money has made the people at the clinic start charging her for medication that should be free. For a one month supply of medication for the two girls they are asking 3,000 Shillings, roughly the equivalent of $2.50. That is a large sum of money for someone struggling in the village. The other problem she faces is transport to the clinic to pick up the medication. The cost for a round trip is another 3,000 Shillings. In order to keep her granddaughters properly medicated, she has to somehow come up with 6,000 shillings. She needs 5 bucks a month. The simple answer would be to give her $5 dollars a month to get the medication she needs. However, the solution for long term sustainability is not that simple. Our ministry could easily give her $5 a month; I know a donor would be happy to know their support went directly to this sweet Jaja. with a smile and always sends us away with some sort of gift out of her garden when we visit. She is currently struggling to take care of her two granddaughters who suffer from epilepsy. She is doing her very best to provide the medication they need to maintain a life without seizures. The problem is getting the medication. The government is supposed to provide healthcare for the people of Uganda. The medication
The question is what happens to her granddaughters when we are not around anymore? What if hard times strike and she needs that $5 for food in the village? The long term solution is to find a way for Jaja to help herself.
God presented that solution on our last visit to the village. As we concluded our visit and time of prayer, we noticed smoke coming from an area beside Jaja’s house and a big pile of wood. She told us she was making charcoal to sell as a way to support her-self. Bingo! There was our solution. God moved quickly in our prayer life today. We could buy charcoal from Jaja, a big sack costs 30,000 shillings. A solution that benefits both of us, she supports herself and we have charcoal for cooking at home. This is a way for us to help Jaja support herself, obtain medication for her granddaughters and empower herself. She will not be dependent upon us for a monthly handout, but we are still finding a way to support her and to help take care of her granddaughters.
Helping is about helping in a beneficial way. Helping in a way that benefits the people, while also empowering those same people in a way to help themselves. It is about sharing and educating people who are generous enough to want to give and have the desire to make a difference in this world. When you partner those two things helping can be a very powerful thing. We should not be paralyzed by fear and not help; we should also not give blindly in our desire to help. There has to be a balance. Helping someone in their time of need is a powerful thing and helping someone help themselves is even more powerful!
“Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” Matthew 25:40