18 November 2008

Should have taught them to fish… Part 2

I’ll never forget my first fishing trip with my dad… we were camping at Big Sur with another family… the dads woke us up at the crack of dawn and took us down to the river…

I remember falling into the freezing river… I remember that out of the 6 of us we only caught 1 three-inch trout… And I remember not enjoying fishing…

Despite all of this I know how to fish and will one day teach my own sons…

Now imagine if my dad didn’t teach me how to fish and tomorrow I want to go fishing…

He would have to take a week off of work…He would have to pay $2000 for a plane ticket to join me…And I don’t think he would enjoy having to tie the fishing lines for his 29-year old son…

Sure it is rewarding for a dad to show off his fishing skills to a 6-year old… but does any dad want to hold the same pole as his 29-year old as he attempts to cast his line…

6-year old orphans are cute and stir visitors’ hearts… but 29-year old beggars seem to infuriate visitors who don’t seem to see the connection…

This weekend I got an opportunity to visit New Hope in Luwero…it is a 20-year old missionary project with an orphanage, schools and farm… several things impressed me…

1. Simplicity – they didn’t try to incorporate any western comforts into their children’s living situations… they cooked over charcoal… they washed their clothes by hand… the children all worked on the farm… and the houses were small but took care of their basic needs…

2. Supervision – the orphan children had parents who taught them to do things on their own… the parents taught the children to cook instead of doing it for them… they taught them to farm instead of farming for them… and most importantly they encouraged the children that they could do things on their own…

3. Self -Sustainability – each orphan home had its own garden that the children cultivated which provided a good portion of their food… the project itself had a fish farm, piggery and 300 additional acres of farmland that they cultivated which provided 30% of the funds for all of their various ministry projects…

4. Sustained leadership… took awhile but I found the final “s” word… the project was co-founded by an American missionary and Ugandan pastor… 20 years later they are still working as partners… with the majority of the staff being indigenous and trained by the co-founders…

Now there are hundreds if not thousands of orphan projects in Uganda… but what impressed me about this one is that you won’t find their grown children begging on the streets or looking for a sponsor… they will be working…they also generate 30% of their yearly budget on their enterprise farm... but that took 20-years of hard work and training… investing 20-years is a huge commitment… but then again… their children know how to fish… and the financial crisis in the US will not put an end to the great work that they are doing…

In closing here is something to chew on… If we “taught Ugandans to fish” would they still be entering their 4th decade of an orphan crisis?

No comments: