It’s been a while!
Almost the entire month of December slipped by since I last had a chance to write. And bow january is almost past as well. It’s important to note that a lot has happened in the last months, including a village Hannukah, a social Christmas with friends and a wonderful new year! I’ve also been active in my village, an doing some home improvements as well.
It’s also prudent to note that I’ve been continuing to adjust and attempt new programs as well as new ways to encourage better adherence to previous projects.
It’s been a frustrating ride these last few months, and although much of that has to do with the seasons ( it’s rainy season, which means folks are focused in their fields and planting ) a lot of it comes back to an exceptionally irritating issue, dependency syndrome. Also known as free aid syndrome, D.S. is a by product of international aid that was poorly implemented.
To make DS easier to understand, I’ve put it into an anecdote. Say that a villager receives a new bicycle for their participation in a program on sanitation. That volunteer has participated in 8 different trainings on hygiene and sanitation by as many NGOs. He/she is used to receiving aid regardless of whether he produces results – if an NGO is unhappy, well, that’s ok, someone else will come along to train him and give him money or things. No one ever checks up on how many people have been trained, or looks into other programs operating in the area. In fact there’s no coordination between NGOs so they don’t know they’re duplicating past efforts and providing services already rendered. In this model learning and attending workshops becomes a money making activity, not a development activity. The knowledge received is secondary at best to the money/food/stuff given by the NGOs.
So back to the bicycle. Our trained community member uses the bike, until he gets a flat tire, or a bent spoke. Instead of investing to repair the bike, he sets it aside. Why invest when he can wait for another NGO to come and then complain about how he doesn’t have the resources or tools to fix the bike. That NGO will then replace it. Logical thinking.
I’ve unfortunately had the above occur – and more importantly I’ve had community members walk out of my trainings when they learned they weren’t going to be paid to learn. Now in a way that’s good, because I can put a little red X next to their name and have a neat list of those folks which sits in my office at the clinic. They’re not considered for future workshops, and when NGOs ask for names for future programs…well you get the picture.
Still, unfortunately it’s not just one or two villagers, but dozens, from all walks of life and all scales of wealth. I hear every day how hard it is to find relish (meat etc) but when asked to build a Chicken coop and take care of their chickens – which would allow them to gather eggs and to breed the chickens for slaughter and sale, they refuse. Telling me they can’t manage to construct them. Meanwhile, I’ve taught about building them from local materials, all of which can be found for free… It’s not about the work – it’s about an expectation that if they wait long enough and outsider will come and fix it.
Now that’s aggravating.
Every day I do a little more sensitization, have a few more one on one or small group conversations, relate to community members and work to combat DS and Free Aid Syndrome, every day a few more minds are able to stand up on their own an take an interest in their community and development – now that’s motivating