Lessons from Uganda 4.

Here are the previous “Lessons”

Lesson 4 :: Empowering a Nation

Nations, churches, organizations, and people have been giving monetary aide to Africa for a long time; and rightly so, the countries need the help.

I had always thought that Africa was mostly mud huts and naked people – with a few city-like areas here and there.  I was wrong.  Though Uganda is considered an underdeveloped country – though it has poverty, orphans, homelessness, senseless crime, famines, etc – the nation of Uganda is still very much alive.  The country is beautiful!  No wonder it is called the “Pearl of Africa”.

A lot of the money given to Uganda – from other places – has been put to good use (caring for orphans, feeding the hungry, building projects, and the like).  But, just as well, a lot of the money given to Uganda has not been put to good use.  The government is corrupt – as a lot of third-world countries have.  In addition to this, a lot of people’s mentalities about places like America are misconstrued.

Many people over in Uganda (and I’m sure other places too) have the perception that all white people are rich.  If you know me, you know that is so far from the truth!  In ways, they are right: we have nice homes, we have plenty of food, we have stores, we have entertainment, we have good jobs, we have health care, etc.  Though in ways, they are wrong: we too have poverty, we too have homelessness, we too have orphans, we too have job loss, we too have corrupt people in our government, we too have high crime, etc.  Honestly, many in Uganda have found this hard to believe.  Many also find it weird that most Americans work 40 hours a week.  They, on the other hand, seem to only work about 15 hours.  Most adults don’t understand the simple concept that you have to work for the things you need/want. And here is where giving money to “empower a nation” has gone wrong.

In talking with people, comments like this have been heard:

  • Why should we work?  Everyone gives us money.
  • You’re from America, so you pay for the things I need.
  • We have too many people and things that do our work for us, so we can’t work.
  • We don’t know how to work.

These are real comments!  And they’re right!  We have empowered a nation to not do anything for themselves.  We have given them machines, tools, supplies, money, etc, but we have failed to train them in how to effectively use the things we’ve given them.

We have empowered a nation without empowering it’s people.

Many ministries – some found in Lesson 3 – are striving to change this mess-up.  They are trying to raise and train Ugandan children to be next-generation Ugandan Leaders, so that Uganda can be run by Ugandans (and not other places).  It’s a simple concept, but one that has been lacking for far too long.

So, what am I saying?  I am NOT saying that we should stop giving aide to Uganda (and other countries in Africa).  We should be.  I am NOT saying that are money is being wasted.  It’s not.  I am NOT saying we should approach third-world countries with the attitude of “Suck it up”.  This does nothing either.

Rather, I am saying that we should be more intentional in our giving of money and support.  We should be making sure that our money is being used not to enable people to not work but instead empowering them to work.  We need to stop making Uganda into another America (or England, or whatever).  Uganda is unique and beautiful in of itself … we need to be empowering the people of this great nation to take pride in themselves, their country, and their culture.  Doing this, I believe (as well as others from Uganda believe), will truly empower Uganda to be the nation it has always wanted to be.

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