Helping people in crisis is vitally important, but if that is all we do, then we can unintentionally sustain them in that place of crisis. Empowering people to help themselves, avoids creating unhealthy dependent relationships and helps to build self respect whilst restoring dignity. There are many ways in which we can help people to become part of the solution.
Accessing social benefits and other rights
There are many people we meet who have not accessed the rights, benefits and services currently available to them from the state. This is a really important first step. Encouraging families to register with a family doctor, obtain child benefits and social benefits, etc.
Families living in rural communities often have access to large gardens, but if you have not eaten properly for many years then you quickly lose energy and so to dig over the garden even if you have a spade is not easy. But if you don’t have money for bread you may not own a spade…..and neither does your neighbour. Even if you had energy and a spade, then you may not have money to buy the seed and if you have the seed then you may not have a well. If you have a well then you don’t have a pump or a hose for irrigation….. and the vision of a garden producing vegetables seems far away. We have a tractor and a driver and can plough and disk a garden and can provide the seed in the spring.
Not all of the places that we work are fortunate enough to have gardens, but when they do, then without a water supply it is impossible for people to raise vegetables that would provide food for the family. We can help a family to drill a small well to provide water for laundry and irrigation. We can also help a family to buy a water pump and hose to irrigate the garden.
If you are a parent with 6 children living in a mud house and the closest water pump is 500 meters away then doing laundry to keep your family clean (especially in the winter) becomes a major challenge. Families in the laundry program can borrow a top loading washing machine. Like borrowing a library book. The machines weigh around 12 kilos and so can be carried easily by two people.
Mud homes deteriorate quickly if not properly maintained. The mud bricks become soft and begin to disintegrate in the rain which can lead to collapsing walls and roofs. When you don’t have money to buy bread or basic foods or firewood. When your child doesn’t have shoes. When one of your children is sick and needs medication (which is not cheap). Repairing your home, fixing the leaking roof, re-plastering the exterior walls of your tiny mud house can seem just not so important. We can provide help to a family wanting to carry out urgent repairs.