We are in the process of having a Beyond Ourselves office (affectionately known as the Boffice) built here in Zambia.
I am excited (understatement!)
Since moving here the Beyond Ourselves office has lived in our home, doubling as a spare bedroom. It’s not the biggest of rooms to begin with and it houses a desk, bunkbeds, a big photocopier, countless school resources, all our important files (and many not so important ones) and loads of random work and personal things. It’s tight.
And only one person can work in there at a time. Which poses a problem when our team is comprised of five people. Yes, a lot of our time is spent at the schools, in the communities and generally out and about in meetings and the like but a one person office hasn’t been working so well for our team. And our living room being the overspill of the office hasn’t been working so well for us as a family.
So a couple of months ago our very kind landlords scoped out the property we live on and suggested we convert a carport, that wasn’t being used much on site, into an office. Jodie, our director, was up for it and in a few short weeks everything was agreed and the building started! The roof was put on this week and we should be able to move in the next couple of months.
When we moved to Zambia in 2013 we crossed paths with a lovely British family that were just packing up as we were arriving. They had lived and worked here for about ten years and had loads of wisdom and experience that, as newcomers, we were keen to learn from. We asked them outright what were the things they wished they had known when they first arrived, what were the most important things they had learned.
They had a list of four or five things, nuggets of wisdom, but the one that has stuck with me the most has always been – help those who want to be helped.
I had to chew on this for a while if I’m honest because it’s difficult to understand why someone in a place of poverty (in every way, physically, spiritually and emotionally) doesn’t want a hand up. But it is true and actually trying to help those who don’t want to be helped is going to be frustrating and fruitless.
I’ve been learning this lesson recently. It’s not a fun one. In the last few weeks we had the opportunity to give someone a huge hand up. For years we’ve been giving them handouts, they’ve needed them, they are in a desperate situation. But a few weeks ago we had work (on-the-job training, leading to potential long term work) for a member of the family and after giving it a go for a few days, decided he didn’t want to work, he didn’t want the opportunity.
It’s hard to understand why someone wouldn’t want help. It’s harder yet to accept that someone doesn’t want to accept a potentially life changing opportunity.
But it happens. And it is hard. There are a multitude of reasons this happens, none of them good ones (that I can think of) but nevertheless not everyone wants help. Sometimes we have to accept this reality. Today is one of those days.