Saturday, April 20, 2013

What I Struggle With

In the last post, I described my day with Paul's family.  It was an honor for me to have him take me into his home and introduce me to his family.

What I struggle with is how to help.  Sustainability is not what today was about.  It was about showing a few little kids a great time.  Is that a good thing or a bad thing?  Paul and I talked about the dilemma that the kids will now want to do this again.  Is that so different than kids worldwide seeing a wider world on the internet and television?  As for Paul - his view is that "this will be a story for our family to remember."

There was an article recently in the Malawi paper about Madonna, who was apparently here last week.  Can't testify to that, since she didn't give me a call, even though her cousin was my admin ass't. back in the day in Michigan.

Anyway, the article was about celebrity do-gooders - and are they really doing good or causing more harm than good.  The article was leaning toward "more harm than good."

There's no doubt that what I did today was as much (or more) for me than it was for Paul and the kids.  The same is true for Peace Corps service.  Did I want to contribute?  Absolutely.  Did I?  Yes, at some level.  Did I do harm?  In Peace Corps or today?  Or by coming to Malawi?

Unlike the experience today, my goals for Peace Corps in Samoa and for Challenges Worldwide in Malawi were to contribute toward sustainable growth.  Teaching others new skills so they can improve their lives.

Does a detour to pizza and a jungle gym have a negative effect?  Or does the work that USAID and others provide cause more harm than good?  Read "Dead Aid".  It will make you think.

Fundamentally, I try (not always successfully) to adhere to a few things.  Be present in the moment.  Make one person smile.  Pay it forward.  Learn.

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