I would like to thank all of you that wrote back to me with your thoughts and comments on my various forms of communication. Since I posted my last post on a Saturday some of you won’t see it until Monday. I truly believe everyone that believes in God’s word wants to take care of all Orphans and anyone else in need. What I also believe is that the power of money has made it almost impossible to reach those that needed it most. In
it takes only a moment to get our child a glass of fresh, clean, sparkling, clear, and for the most part bug free water. To top it all off if we go to the fridge with its water dispenser we can get some ice either crushed or cubed to make it cold. All this in less time then it took me to write these sentences. This morning I went to get my morning cup of Joe. One of the waiters asked where I was sitting and commenced to bring me a cup and some hot water for my 3 in 1 coffee mix bags. He put the cup on the table and opened the thermos bottle. He poured some water into the cup and behold some floaties. Plenty of floaties and I am not even sure what kind of floaties they were. He took the cup went to the side of the porch and threw the water and the floaties onto the grass. He then came back to my table and put my cup back on the table. He started to pour me some more water. Well some more floaties came out. Still not sure what they are but this time he took my cup and thermos back inside. He came back with a different thermos and I am not sure if it was a different cup or not. He then poured me some hot water. This time there were no floaties in the cup. However there are still floaties in the cup they are just too small to see. This is the same water that Kenyans drink and if it wasn’t boiled properly I would be paying the price for days to come. I know because it did not take but my first meal to become a victim. I looked down into my cup to make sure that it was ok to put my pre-mixed coffee into. I could see to the bottom of the cup so in my mind it is ok to drink. However how many of you would drink this water when you looked in the cup and noticed that the water is not exactly clear and it is not exactly colorless? Trust me that this water that I received this morning even though it was a little brown in color and you could still see small particles in it was much better then what the majority of Kenyans drink on a regular basis if they get any water at all. Something so simple for us and yet for millions of Kenyans the ritual of getting any kind of water can take most of the day. Be reminded that this happens in many more countries all over the world and here in America I would say they have it better then some other countries. Kenya
I apologize if it took so long to get to the point since I tend to go off and tell a story. My point is that something so simple for us “water” is a real chore for most people her in
. The same is repeated with food, for clothing, for shoes, for just about everything we take for granted. Every morning we send our children off to school either because it is free or we can afford to pay private tuition. Even though school is free here in Kenya many parents still can’t afford to send their children to school because they can’t get past the school fees, the cost of uniforms and other expenses. On top of all this what if someone gets sick? So what does all this have to do with the power of money and those that need it most? Kenya
Yesterday I met with Bishop Hezron for hours to discuss Orphan care and projects. As I continue to write my blogs I will be trying to convey back to you the problems that the Hezron’s of the world face when some aid comes in. We talked and talked about as much as we could of Orphan care and the pitfalls that come with it. Hezron asked a question and I will try to put it in a fashion that we can understand. “I have been entrusted with $30,000 to build a new beautiful bricks and mortar church”. “I have been told that all this money has to be spent to build the church”. “However I am a very poor man and my wife Melissa is dying”. “I have all this money what do I do”? Hezron probably does not need the whole $30,000 to save his wife so what does he do? Please before you answer take yourself out of your situation and try your best to put yourself into his. What would you do? I know what I would do. I would take some of that $30,000 and then try to figure out a way to return it. Some of you might be more creative then I but I am sure you get the point.
Let’s face the facts and realize that most everyone would take some of that money to save their wife or their child. We know our Lord and our partners will forgive us. It is also true that my partner might abandon me but that is the risk I take. I will somehow find those replacement funds. Now let’s take that $30,000 that has been reduced to let’s say $25,000. I am now going into the community to build the church. That left over $25,000 is a fortune to those that have little or nothing. Everyone knows that Hezron has been given plenty of money to build the church. How does everyone know this? Well some missionaries came a year ago and told us they want to build us a church. You should not have to praise God under the trees and in the rainy weather. To most Kenyans “you want to do something for me ok I will take it”. It doesn’t matter if it is something they need or not. You want to give me something, fine, and thank you. To most missionaries coming over for their first trip have no idea on what it takes to get a glass of water in Kenya or much anything else we take for granted. It’s a non thought. They went home to raise funds because they were told that it would take $30,000 to build our new friends a beautiful new church. Our missionaries are overjoyed we can do this. Our transparency has opened Pandora’s Box. Before you know it everyone has a hungry or dying child. What does a man of integrity such as Hezron do? As Joe states in his report integrity to us is much different to integrity in another country. We now have lost some more funds maybe all the funds to build the church. Our missionary friends come back for a return visit and see the church started but nowhere near completion. Our missionaries are so disappointed that they become four of the five missionaries never to return again.
I find it amazing how Hezron’s question parallels the analogy that Joe explained in his report when talking about scraping, community leakage and aid inflation. Here in
our instructions were clear and precise. This money is restricted to the construction of the church period. I do a project at the factory every dime I spend better be related to that project or mister CFO will be putting me through the grinder. I have literally spent many millions of dollars during my career in Maintenance and Engineering without once taking a dime to pay for my dying wife or child. Was it because I had integrity or was it that my other needs were taken care of or both? Believe me in my line of work I had plenty of chances and opportunities to skim if I chose to do so and I would have probably never been caught. Granted don’t think I have not taken my share of gratuitous gifts or free lunches. In my line of work there was no such thing as a free lunch and part of the vendor’s budget was earmarked for customers like me. It’s all part of doing business. All the major corporations that I worked for had a strict ethics policy that dictated how we were to accept the gifts. However here in America integrity for Hezron is that he has taken a promise to his people to help the poor. What is Hezron to do? His integrity is on the line his people are starving and some of them are dying. He has all this money. Kenya
My answer to Hezron is what I have been trying to tell him since I arrived a few years ago. We want to do projects to help those that need it most. I have been doing projects for over thirty years and not once has my integrity been questioned until now. Our definitions of integrity clash and the Kenyans have no clue of our definition only theirs. They might not say it to my face for fear of offending me and them being cast as the one whom ran away the mzungu but it has happened. I will talk about their closed door mentality in a different blog. During my discussions with my partners I have been telling them that I need them to become self sufficient before we can make others self sufficient. That is why I have concentrated on getting some of these projects to the pastors and other leaders. I can see that they live in poverty, I can relate to the temptation that this money will bring them, and I have seen my friends here in
hand out money sometimes like candy to those that have less because that is what is required of them. One of our main goals is that all our partners/leaders within the church are able to sustain themselves until their congregations are able to do so. Kenya
My integrity and their integrity are at odds with each other. As the go between it is now my job to get answers to this problem. Of course one of my answers was to address the needs of my partners the pastors and leaders so they will not be compelled to skim a few shillings for themselves. Another answer is to address the other needs of the church or community so our partners do not feel compelled to skim a few more shillings to help those in need. I know you might be saying these are simple answers but they are not in any way simple answers. The need is so great that there will always be people coming out of the bush in need.
True I gave an example of money going to build a church however the same is with any money or aid that comes in. This is only one of many examples of how the power of money and all its ability makes it almost impossible to reach those that need it most. There is only so much of the pie and there are too many people in front of those at the end of the line.
I do believe if we are going to try and get to those Ones at the end of the line we are going to have to make the pieces of the pie smaller so everyone can get a piece. Did the community really need a $30,000 church? Could a couple thousand dollar church have the same effect? As Joe puts it we tend to try and Americanize what ever we do. We need to get in the habit of doing it as if a Kenyan was doing it.
Our goal is not to come here and make anyone rich or have what we have in
. Maybe our missionaries that raised the $30,000 could have raised a couple of thousand for a church, a couple thousand for a school, a couple thousand for a clinic, depending where they are a few more thousand for a well etc. After all is said and done hopefully five to ten thousand could be set up to fund a locally ran micro-finance and savings enterprise to get everyone in the church community to a modest sustainable level. Then maybe once everyone is adequately sustained based on that communities norm this community of believers can be taught that those in the shadows, those that have the least, and those that can’t fend for themselves should be brought to the front of the line. America
Take care and God bless you all