Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Working for Tomorrow

Posted by Iain Tait, Project Advisor, Madagascar 2012

People have often asked why it is I'm part of this project.  Everyone has their own reason.  This is mine:

In 2008, I was one of three volunteers who travelled to Ambato Boeni.  We sat down with the village council in the Troisieme Quartier to learn more about their goals as a community.  This was when we first learned of the community's development priorities for fresh water, education and a source of electricity...Life.  Learning.  Light.

Following several presentations of information, some discussion (and quite a lot of translating), we shared a meal, we danced and we laughed (mainly at my dancing).  At the end of the day, while we three Canadians were preparing to head up to the Scout campfire, we started saying our goodbyes.  Just before we left, an elderly woman came to me.  She took my hands in hers and looked right into my eyes.

When she looked at me, I could see that she had not had an easy life.  She was weathered and almost entirely blind, yet somehow she found my gaze and started telling me something in Malagasy.  I did not know what she was saying, but I could tell that it was incredibly important.  I turned to our good friend, Father Alfredo, and asked what it was she was saying.  He translated for me, "she's asking for some money to buy rice so her grandchildren can eat tomorrow".

My first though, selfishly, was "how could she put me in that position?  How unfair is that?"  But I soon realized that I was looking at this entirely from the wrong perspective.  How unfair was it that she was put in that position, to have to plead with a stranger in order to ensure her grandchildren were able to eat?  When you have limited resources, it's impossible to think so far ahead as to plan for next year, or even next week.  The most pressing need is tomorrow.

In 2009, when the project was postoned, I told myself that I would continue working on this project to ensure that, one day, it would finally be finished.  This would be my way of helping that woman look further into the future than simply tomorrow.  However, at the last project planning meeting, I learned from Father Alfredo that this woman had recently died.  When I heard of her passing, I realized it was time that I also look further to the future.  Now, I work for her grandchildren.

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