Saturday, November 21, 2009

How do those we are "serving" feel???

I am a veracious reader, and love to read books about Africa, both fiction and non-fiction.  I have read 4 of the books of the series by Alexander McCall Smith called The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency.  These are quick and easy books to read, but will give the reader a real feeling about the culture and feelings of people in Africa in general.  Although the books are written about a woman, Mma Precious Ramotswe who lives in Botswana, and loves her country very much, I believe the insight one gets from these books can be applied to most rural African countries.  In "The Tears of a Giraffe" Mma Ramotswe thinks this about people who come to Africa with the intention of "helping" the people there......"there is nothing wrong with these people-they were kind people usually, and treated the Batswana with respect.  Yet somehow it could be tiring to be given advice.  There was always some eager foreign organization ready to say to Africans: "this is what you should do", or "this is how you should do things".  The advice may be good, and it might work elsewhere, but Africa needed to find its own solutions."

I can't say that this is how all Africans feel about "western" help, but it certainly gives me something to think about in terms of serving the beautiful and gracious people I have come to know and love in Swaziland.  It reinforces the work we are doing with the Sheselweni Home Based Care group, a group of over 700 volunteers who are already serving their neighbors in southern Swaziland. (


1 comment:

  1. I don't think it's wrong to give advice or to share ways that may work. I think the main problem is that foreigners seldom want to go to the trouble of sitting down and listening to what the real problem is (as opposed to the "perceived" problem) and then to help people find solutions that will work in Africa. Thanks for sharing that, Sandi.