Monday, August 25, 2008

Frustration

Today was one of those days. The way of life, the thinking of the Swazi’s and just the challenges of trying to figure out what one would purchase certain items was more than I could handle today. There are just some things I can’t figure out and I don’t understand.

The biggest source of my frustration centers around the thinking of volunteerism, or lack of it. The majority of people feel that volunteering means getting paid something or at least getting their transport reimbursed and additional money for food if it is something that lasts more than a couple of hours. They say it is because the people here are poor. Now I can thoroughly understand reimbursing for travel because the cost of taking kombi’s or buses everywhere is very expensive. But I don’t understand the reaction about getting the reimbursement for food, the amount they think they are entitled to or the way it is almost demanded. Not everyone who is volunteering is so poor they don’t have food to eat. Most of the people will say yes they want to volunteer to help with a project, but then the first thing after that is “are you going to pay my transport and what about money to buy lunch?” I just don’t know how to respond. There seems to be an attitude here that they deserve to be given something and you better not give more to one person than to another. In some ways I feel like I am dealing with toddlers making sure to cut a cookie in half so neither will get upset that the other has more.

So I went from a meeting with the volunteers to going with someone to price blankets and sponges (foam pads) to sleep on. We drove to a dozen different places and finally found two stores that carried sponges. It was just one of those days when it boggled my mind the types of things that are grouped together in the local stores. And everything seems to be made in India or China. It’s like being in a 99 cents store without organization and at prices much, much higher than 99 cents. I know the early hot weather we had today didn’t help my patience level, but by the time I came home I was completely worn out and brain dead.

My continual prayer is to help me understand the attitude of expecting to get paid something for “volunteering.” James 2:14 asks “What good is it my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds?” Is it a cultural difference that makes this concept impossible in Swaziland or is it a lack of knowledge or understanding in what Christians are called to do?

1 comment:

Leigh H said...

Chris, Haven't you learned by now to keep a loaf of bread and peanut butter and jelly in your car at all times???
We love you and are praying for you!
How's the reamining part of the fence at Lomngeletjane coming along??