Break My Heart for What Breaks Yours

A Kenyan child

Isn’t she cute?  Does she pull at your heart?  You’ve seen her before.  On the commercials. The one with the starving children. At concerts and church events waiting for a sponsor.

When I was hungry….When I was sick….When I was in prison…

What does she require of us?

In the last 50 years….we (THE WEST) have given 1 Trillion DOLLARS……………………to Africa.

1 Trillion Dollars

Yet 1/2 of Africa’s 700 million still live on < 1 dollar a day.

And the overall per capita income in Africa is less than the 1970s…..

85% of the AID NEVER reached its TARGET

It has deepened dependency and reenforced corrupt institutions.
The World Bank did a series of studies recently called the VOICES OF THE POOR, they interviewed people from all over all the world, here are some quotes:

•“I feel ashamed standing before my children when I have nothing to help feed the family. I’m not well when I am unemployed. It’s terrible.”  -Guinea-Bissau
•“We are cripples, we are afraid of everything; we depend on everyone. No one needs us. We are like garbage that everyone wants to get rid of.”-Moldova
•In regards to short-term aid his village has received: “…effective only in turning my people into beggars.  –Nicaragua Village Leader

I am a disability rights activist who became a global health doctor.  Minority rights activists particularly ones who are part of the minority group come into the global arena not as a savior from the West but as a brother/sister of the tribe. Thus when I got to Africa and all the white people lived in big single family homes on the hill, I was uncomfortable and found myself relating to the Kenyans far more than the Westerners who shared my socio-economic background.  This is a gift I would later realize. While I am still a dumb American, I am slightly less dumb than average.

The second time I went to Africa, I went on vacation with bunch of Kenyan girls, health professionals.  One night over mangoes chicken they started talking about the white people on the hill.  They started off by saying, “Amy, you are different….” (whatever that means…).  They went on to talk about the white doctors that come,  care for patients by day, go home to their hill at night and fail to participate in the rich community life of Kenya.  They also fail to think what it is like for the Kenyans doctors to receive so much help from the West.  I was floored even though I too had thought the hill was barrier, to hear these bright, Kenyan professionals’ shame and hurt was life changing.   They ended though with begging me to move there.  Which may seem ironic but I think its to say that they knew that when I did I would not move up the hill and they know my intent to teach.

I have spent the last year reading, writing (praying/processing) and trying to figure out what the heck this looks like, how do I do this BETTER. I read books on poverty, biographies, books on missions, liberal books, conservative books, books about Africa, books about charity, books about bad charity, etc, etc.  I read stories about doctors who sent incubators to Zambia without instructions to maintain them or remembering that the generators at the hospital could not sustain them. I read about short term mission trips where groups of high school students over the course of 12 weeks painted the same church 7 times because they needed some to do. I’ve read about the miraculous saves where one child with abnormality wins the lottery and comes to America while his peers die of the same disease back home….where no one asked the question, what if we taught someone to do this so we could save more than one.  Or how about the inner city Dads who spend every Christmas Eve on the street corner in shame as they watch the suburban church goers bring THEIR children gifts.  I cried, I hung my head in shame at how poorly we have done.

And don’t think churches do this better, in fact most studies show they do JUST AS POORLY if NOT WORSE.

She pulls at my heart but what breaks my heart is we have failed her.   We have failed to give her dignity at the expense of our own desire to feel good about ourselves.  And here in lies my enigma….and my prayers….

There is hope, there is revolution.

There are newer and better models. They require more work, more innovation and they are much, much messier.  Gone is the quick fixes, gone is nothing but mercy. Gone is the living on the hill, gone is reenforcing injustice. We have to live among those we seek to serve, relationships first and foremost..  We have to acknowledge our own poverty and our brokenness. We have to find humility before the poor who are brothers and sisters and before…

What does she require of us?

Do Justice

Love Mercy

Walk Humbly

with your GOD and with her….


2 responses to “Break My Heart for What Breaks Yours

  1. Pingback: Sustainablity, The Holy Grail, 27 weeker home births and YES I do believe in Fairies… | Beautifully As Possible·

  2. Pingback: Sustainability The Holy Grail, 27 weeker home births and YES I do believe in Fairies… | Beautifully As Possible·

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