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.