It’s Fearless Friday and the half-marathon is tomorrow. I have a lot to be afraid about. You may too. But I also have lots to celebrate. Among my blessings are so many of you who have supported, encouraged and prayed for me. Thank you to the moon! Since the half-marathon is about raising money for clean water through World Vision, today I want to share a related fear and some good news.
I’m a first born. A Rule Follower. I hate “getting it wrong”! I get so embarrassed by my mistakes.
When someone dies, I’m scared to death of saying the wrong thing, inadvertently being “that person” who was somehow insensitive or oblivious.
When helping those in need it’s the same. Over the years I’ve found that there are so many ways that well-meaning folks (Read: “me”) can cause more problems than they solve, creating dependency, or taking away dignity, or upsetting the country’s economy or…
Also, poverty is overwhelming. Injustice seems intractable. Often I just want to cover my ears, shut my eyes and yell “Lalalalala…” The problems are so big it’s hard to know where to start. When we do DO something we don’t want to hear it’s the wrong thing! So it was with fear and trepidation that I started reading the book, Toxic Charity recently.
One of the criticisms the author, Robert Lupton levels is at organizations who create dependency instead of equipping and empowering those in need. We need to do with and not just for others.
As I read this terrific book, yes, there were some little things that I hadn’t thought about that I need to change, but there was good news too.
At the beginning of his book, Lupton sites the case of a church generously building a well for a town in Honduras, but every year when they went back, the villagers were drawing dirty water from the dirty stream again because the pump was broken. They just waited for church members to return to fix it. The villagers had no ownership, no sense of responsibility.
In contrast, I was excited to see at the end of his book, Lupton uses World Vision as an example of an organization doing it “right”.
When World Vision goes into an area of need, the first thing they do is to draw together the community to ask what THEY feel is most important to them. Often clean water is high on the list. Nearly 2,000 children under age 5 die each day from diarrheal diseases caused by unsafe drinking water and spread by lack of basic sanitation and hygiene. This is more than HIV and malaria combined.
World Vision’s WASH initiative stands for WAter, Sanitation, and Hygiene. Here’s how they make sure what they are doing is sustainable.
To ensure the long-term sustainability of WASH facilities, we train WASH committees to maintain and repair water points. Comprised of community volunteers, these committees take responsibility for operating and maintaining facilities, using a fee-collection system to pay for repairs when needed. As an example of the sustainability for which we strive, one study conducted in 2003 in the Greater Afram Plains of Ghana showed that, as many as eight years after being drilled, 92 percent of wells surveyed still had functioning hand pumps, and 87 percent were still providing an adequate supply of safe water.
Yes, I’m afraid of misstepping in the minefield of poverty and injustice. It would be so much easier to say the problem is just too big and there are too many ways to get it wrong. But a friend of mine said recently, “We can be safe or we can be brave, but we can’t be both.” Doing nothing and claiming insurmountable odds feels safer, but I believe Jesus beckons us forward. Even taking tiny unsure steps is better than going nowhere at all.