Friday, October 8, 2010

Troublesome cultural issues.

September 27, 2010 
This morning I was sitting on our couch working on some computer things when all of a sudden I heard the sounds of scissors cutting. I looked and saw Seth and Cole. They were coloring at the dinning room table. So, what was making that cutting sound? I looked out the window and to my utter was Tiana, our guard and gardener. He was squatting down on the ground walking like a duck, and he was cutting the grass.....with a small pair of shears! I was mortified. I already struggle, deeply, with having house help. (I have yet to meet a missionary who hasn't struggled with the idea of having house help.)

I was talking to a missionary friend of mine, Jocelynn, on the phone this afternoon. She explained a truth to me that I didn't know before, which appears to be true in a lot of developing countries around the world. She said, “When a foreigner comes to live here, that foreigner is looked at as someone who can provide a few good paying jobs for the nationals. They can provide a job for a guard, a house cleaner, a nanny, a gardener..... In fact (and I didn't know this before until now) if, as a foreigner, you don't provide those jobs, in some countries such as Madagascar, you are seen as selfish and self centered, not caring at all for the people of the land in which you just moved to.

So, herein lies the difficult and touchy situation. In the foreign land you are, in some way, expected to provide these jobs. Yet, in the land where I come from having a guard, house cleaner, and nanny often speaks of wealth and high maintenance. You know I'm right. And so, often times, missionaries feel uncomfortable mentioning that they have this type of help to their friends and family because of how it is perceived in America.

And so, I was glad that Jocelynn told me this, though it's still an awkward topic for me. She actually told me of a book that talked about this very subject. I needed to them remind myself that we are providing these beautiful people with jobs.

So I wanted to encourage you, and myself, and tell you of a family that you are having a positive effect on by supporting our family here in Madagascar. Tiana is our night guard and gardener. Where we are staying in Madagascar it is strongly recommended that you have, at least, a night guard for your safety. This is because, as a foreigner you will be marked for an easy robbery. We also have footsiefootsy, our dog, for this reason. Between her and Tiana (and God) we feel (and have been) very safe. Jeannine is Tiana's wife. She is our house help. She comes twice a week to clean the house and do our laundry (by hand). This beautiful couple have two sons. Right now they live in a one room shack made out of planks of wood. Connected to this one room is another shack, this one with only three sides, where their three pigs live. Their boys run in and out of the pens, bare foot. Tiana and Jeannine are working hard to save enough money in order to build a small home on family land out in the country side. By your supporting us, and by us giving them a job, they are able to save up money towards their goal. So, thank you so much for helping provide for Tiana and Jeannine!

1 comment:

  1. Awesome! Yes, you need to keep the African perspective on this one. Although average Americans don't have this kind of help ... they do have washing machines, dryers, dish washers, motorized lawnmowers (instead of scissors) etc. It's all a balance. You're doing great!