Sarah Bessey is currently in Haiti on a Help One Now Blogger’s Tour. She recently wrote this piece on her own blog. Read it at http://sarahbessey.com/beautiful-facade/.
She raises some really solid questions and observations about orphan prevention, the difficulty in caring for the poor and doing it right. I’ll have some more thoughts after this……
“This entire story is pretty much a metaphor for my experiences in developing nations.
I’m inept and ignorant. I don’t know what I’m doing. This is because I fly in and out, I don’t stay here, I don’t live here, I only know the stories I’m told, and I long for a quick-fix happy-ending.
When I heard the truth of the beautiful painted houses of Jalousie from our translators and then from my friends Tara and Troy Livesay, my stomach sank. Because I’d fallen for a facade. Again.
Haiti keeps me humble. These moments – and this is not the only time I’ve been wrong or ill-informed or just plain ignorant – they remind me to keep my mouth shut, to listen, to dig a bit deeper than the facades, to look past the shiny bright exterior into the home, into the streets, into the truth.
This goes for the bright ice-cream coloured hillside, the organizations that serve, the churches, the people, in every corner of my life. But especially when we are talking about the vulnerable and oppressed.
It’s easy to fall for the bright colours because we want so badly to believe in a good story for once.
Spend any amount of time in the orphan prevention and anti-trafficking conversations, and you learn to become a bit distrustful of the shiny pretty buildings.
You become a bit suspicious of the facades. You learn to peek behind the story and poke with a stick. You learn to ask real questions of the real people, not the PR team. You grow tired of another pop-up well-meaning orphanage in lieu of preventative measures of community and economic development. It’s hard to settle for more dingy half-peeling-off band-aids when you’re longing for a full healing.
There isn’t much room for romanticism in the real world of orphan prevention and community development.
This world needs open eyes, this conversation needs hard questions, these are real people. Real people. Real homes. Real families.
They deserve our open eyes, our respect, and we need to honour them by hearing the truth.
This explains quite well what The Vulnerable Project is about.
It’s about looking past the shiny colors.
It’s about looking past the easy answers and looking at the hard questions.
It’s about determining which organizations are truly helping prevent orphans. Which organizations are truly working on keeping families together.
Which organizations are helping those who are vulnerable make it through a tough time in their lives.
And helping those organizations.
Help them do what they do and do more of it.
Stay tuned, there will be more……