ramblings and wondering [stream of consciousness] on provision…
recently i have been thinking a lot about provision and being provided for or being a provider…or about god as provider etc. generally i come out of one of these thinking-sessions feeling inadequate, confused and sleepy.
many times i am looked upon as a provider int his community. i have means. i have access to means. even though protest and say “i’m in debt!” i am still viewed as someone with access not only to means, but to sums that are unimaginable to those who come to me for assistance.
specifically, i’ve been thinking about how much my university and grad school educations cost (and continue to cost…and will probably continue to continue to cost) in regards to money. and how even just one semester of my undergraduate education would pay for a primary student in uganda to complete ALL of primary school and perhaps even all of secondary (ordinary and advanced levels-thats 6 years of secondary and 13 years of school!). this includes tuition, notebooks, pencils/pens, mathematical sets, uniforms, lunch even boarding. which is just insane to ponder.
its the beginning of a term, and students need notebooks for school. and something to write with. so i have had children coming to my office asking for assistance. and i tend to give it to them. when students ask for books [notebooks] i get them. i find money and i buy them.
i do this in the good faith that they are taking these books to school, where they write in them and then read from them again. (they don’t have textbooks of their very own. most schools, if not all, do not even have student books in their schools for students to borrow–they rely on what they copy from the board when their teachers are teaching. and then they memorize what they wrote and regurgitate it on exams at the beginning and end of each term.
maybe i should have some sort of “checks and balance” system where i consent to give a child books and pens for school IF they bring me their results… or if i go to their school and see that they really are enrolled and not just collecting books from me and selling them. however. if they ARE collecting books from me an selling them, they are probably using that money for rice/posho and beans. (which, lets be frank, i’d buy too. at least as much as i can afford… if i were asked to do so.)
but i don’t know if i want that system. 99% of the kids/people who i have helped out with books or pens, money for exams or trips hiking with the scouts come back to me on their own to show me their results, or to thank me, or to give me a report about how great hiking was or what they learned on their trip to gulu. i prefer that they come on their own–that they feel obligated because they want to share with me not because i told them they had to.
am i perpetuating the archaic white-african relationship that i loathe and despise? i certainly hope not. i hope that my actions and willingness to help out translate as one human being helping out another human being because i love them. not because i think less of them for some reason. i hope that we are forming relationships that aren’t based on what our skin looks like, or that i seem to have when they have not. i hope that these interactions and relationships show my humanity to them as their presence in my office and on my veranda do to me.
i hope that i am able to communicate that we are learning from each other. that i don’t have all the answers. i never ever just give something away and thats it. we talk first. “whats your name?” “where do you stay?” “who do you stay with?” “do you like school? what is your best subject?” “how did you know to come to me?” and they always have questions. “why do you love uganda?” “how long will you live here?” “when are you coming to school?” “how do you take care of your hair?”
come to think of it, i don’t want to be a provider.
but i do want to share.
[n.b.] i still have a lot of confusing questions about god as provider–and sometimes feeling angry that if god is supposed to be this great provider why in heaven’s name are people starving? and why are people hurting like this? and a “well humanity is fallen” answer just doesn’t cut it. i’m left with a lot of “WHY?!” it seems to me that living in this “WHY?!” and being uncomfortable is why i tend to want to share–even if sometimes i glare at the heavens thinking snarky thoughts like, “YOU should be doing this, i’ll help out in your seeming absence or lord of everything…”
and sometimes i hear something like “am i not doing through you?” and its enough.
but sometimes its not enough.
and i just feel angry.
but i do want to share…