Tuesday, September 07, 2010


This is a quote from "Nine Hills to Nambonkaha" by Sarah Erdman. She was a Peace Corp worker in Ivory Coast and this book is her story about her experiences there.

"Poverty no longer means rags to me. It doesn't mean mud huts and no beds, because that's how most live here. It doesn't mean starving kids, because most of those round bellies are just swollen with worms; serious malnutrition seems more of an accident than an obstacle. Poverty is something I nearly forget in the village, because it's so well disguised in the good sense of community and the homogeneity of life. The villagers are too proud to let it show. It takes shape in the things you can't notice just passing by. Maybe you can see it if you look closely at the dinner bowls: Is the starch slowly edging out the sauce? Is there macaroni in the sauce instead of fish? The villagers seem so smiling and carefree, seem so happy, make me sure I could be glad to have nothing too. But how much do they suffer quietly? How much hunger do they swallow with a smile?" (pages 157-158)

It brings to mind what so many of us in the wealthy West suffer from. She says that poverty isn't the symptoms that are so easy for us to see. It's deeper than that and in order to eradicate it we must bring ourselves to them, humbly, as a community, with dignity. They do the best with what they have and us coming in to fix the symptoms won't work. We must love them first, and work along side them to see where the poverty really lies. Both in ourselves and in them. Then we can work together to eradicate each other's poverty.

Perhaps our gift really is to help them fill their bowls with meat and to discover how to prevent their children from getting sick so often. Even how to be able to hope for the future.

Perhaps their gift is to us is contentment with what God has given us, faith that he will always take care of us, and the ability to be generous appropriately.

What is needed all depends on the truth that is found in a relationship of trust.

1 comment:

  1. This is great, Kris. Thx for sharing it. Trust is the key, that's for sure.