All is can say is that I am completely powerless over people and how they treat each other and whether or not they choose to be honest or manipulative or kind and considerate. I guess when you live in a place where no one has what they consider to be “enough”, then everyman is out to gain only for himself.
Wait, I shouldn’t say that, just yesterday, I watched Francis, at the tea stand, give food and coins to a hungry man who came over and sat down on the bench. I’ve watched him give small pieces of bread and coins away countless times. My friend, Sandra, brings me food when she can barely feed herself. So, I
know that kindness exists here and I’m constantly witness to beauty in this world, I guess this week I’ve just been hit in the face with a big pie of manipulation and dishonesty and I want to punch something.
We’ve created a monster. By we, I mean development workers, religious organizations, and all other enablers that show up on their white horses to swoop into “poor” countries hoping to save the day. How could I have been so self-righteous, so egotistical to come here? Its almost impossible to make friends because even the ones who do care for you, are still hoping for a hand
out, how can they not, they watch TV, they see what they don’t have and what they think you do have it all.
So much of this country is dependant on the money we place here and we’re not helping anyone. We’re enabling them to sit around and drink all day long and not do anything for themselves except beg the white man for money. I do not
speak for the entire community/ country, of course there are the heart warming stories of the guy who walked to school from the village everyday as an adult, being teased by his family, wearing a uniform and sitting in primary school as a
full grown man because all he wanted to do was learn to read and write and in the end, completed University, and now does grassroots work for the Upper West, a true story that my co-worker Richard lived. But, these are few and far between
and don’t always compare to the pain I see others inflict on their fellow man out of fear or greed or some other drive I can’t seem to pinpoint.
WHAT ARE WE DOING HERE? I’m so confused. I want to weep but I’m so angry, the tears won’t come right now. Man, this is a rude awakening.
Last week, I argued with a carpenter who over-charged the women in the bakery group three times. He gave us a price for the doors and windows and then he upped it once, then he upped it again, this time to accommodate for the hardware, then months later, when we still had no doors and windows, he told
them they had to pay even more for installation.
This no good *******, pretended not to understand English each and every time I’ve ever spoken to him and I stupidly viewed him as a nice humble carpenter riding around on his old beat up bicycle. Well, last week, he showed up to put the doors in, after receiving the final collection of money, which these poor women took from their nearly empty pockets and put into the pot to pay him, and he spoke English to me!!! I lost it. I yelled at him, asking why it is that I care more about his community and these women than he does?
Why is it that we’re busting our ***** to build a bakery for
this **** community that comes along and sees a white lady and ups the price? (Which just proves that our presence only brings about greed, and it wasn’t meant to be that way but we designed this monster and after 47 years, its begging instincts are honed and his survival ones have nearly all been forgotten.)
And then, the carpenter just laughs, of course, because everyone yells here so much, it has no effect. I start to take deep breaths because I’m fuming and then I look up to see him getting on a brand new motorcycle! I wanted to strangle him, I asked him how he paid for it and gave him a death stare, but then I jumped slumped down on the ledge and sat, feeling weighted with sadness, I thought I was escaping that type of treatment but now I see that it happens everywhere, how was I so naïve?
Yesterday, while I was visiting the Sunday market, greeting the local women and enjoying the wonderful breeze that lasted all day after the storm that blew through the night before, this man walks up behind me and says, White lady, why don’t you give me 2000. I turned around and looked up at him and said in the loudest voice I could muster, I should just slap you! Then I walked away, but I really wanted to slap him, so bad I can only describe it as the way your mouth salivates at the smell of food when you haven’t eaten all day. So I turned and looked up at him again and raised my arm up and said, No really, I should slap you, why would you ask me that? He said, No, no, sorry, sorry. I put my arm down, felt deflated, turned and slowly walked away. I hate this feeling. I don’t want to hurt anyone, I understand, if I was in his shoes, I’d probably ask the
same thing. I just don’t know how to proceed. I’m lost.
I feel so sorry for this PC volunteer. I have never felt anywhere as "down" about greed and corruption in Ghana as she is feeling right now, but this has been sort of a "down" last few days.
I love our staff at Eban House. Most of them have been with us since we began last June. They are all warm and friendly and giving women. But even they aren't immune to the temptation of greed that the volunteer above talks about.
These women, most for the first time, are making a decent (not huge, but decent) wage, with vacation and medical benefits. They receive gifts regularly from our exceptionally generous traveling adoptive parents. Plus our kids (and staff) get "treats" like ice cream and "toffee" (Ghana for candy) and American-style treats that the parents bring. I'm sure that our staff have a lot more extras in their life than they have ever had before.
My American feeling is that the staff should feel happy about these positive changes and extras. That they would feel thankful for the extras they now have and work hard to exemplify the standards we expect of our staff at AAI.
But that isn't the case--at least not for all of the women I care about so much. At least a handful of them have proven that what happens when you get "some" is that you want "more"....and more and more and more.
I saw it happen with Bright's orphanage. When I first visited there it was a very basic home with a ton of love. No running water, no electricity, no extras, but a lot of love. Then adoptions started happening. And parents brought "extras" and fundraised for the necessities that they didn't have. Contrary to our American thoughts, they didn't become "happy" about their situation. And maybe that's too much to expect? I haven't bee in their position.
What did happen is that they wanted MORE AND MORE AND MORE AND MORE. More money for each adoption. More donations. Hoping for the necessities turned into a pot full of absolute greed. They became so greedy, in fact, that the adoption agency that was working with them pulled out--as they should have.
Back to our staff... I pray that this attitude of greed is not seeping into Eban House like a black sludgy poison. We cannot have it. We WILL NOT have it. It just makes me sad that it's even a possibility. This greed is like a person who has been hungry for months and then has a banquet of food and assurance that they will never go hungry again. They overeat. The gorge. They cannot get enough, even though they know in their heads they are now safe. They can't stop.
Does this happen with all people who grow up in a country where the white man represents money and "help?" Am I expecting too much to ask our staff to STOP always wanting "more?" Can they control it or is the feeling of desperation and "neediness" so deeply seeded in their psyches that they cannot stop it? I don't know. But it's my job to stop this poison from infiltrating our staff.