10 June 2012

Aid is aiding, but is that ENOUGH?

The first two Maternal Health Task force meetings went off without a hitch. 

Last Monday we met with the Traditional Authority and 42 Community Health Workers, Influential leaders, and Traditional Birth Attendants to conduct a baseline survey on the realities of perceived services and access to care in this area. Then on Tuesday we were back in another area of the district to meet with another Traditional Authority and 40 Community Health Workers, Influential leaders, and Traditional Birth Attendants. It was full days, which after so much “down time” I feel little high to be so stimulated. During the meetings I had waves of emotion passing through me. Excitement that THIS was actually happening, frustration at the lack of sustainability instilled into this structures, gratefulness for despite it all having landed in the lap on a power team of health providers that have supported and walked me through this journey, anger at aid and how America thinks that by throwing our money at “the poor, meek, and tired” we can “save” a life, and a little numb from it all. It’s hard to explain. 

Without living, breathing, feeling, seeing, touching, tasting the reality (and let me remind MYSELF this these biased conclusions I’m eluding to are only based on 6 months of structure and I should know better than to build my house on such a weak structure…) it’s hard to explain this without sounding bitter or ungrateful, but let me tell you I feel neither. More so, my sentiments in sharing this are it to present my truths and my questions. 

Aid is aiding, but is that enough? It’s like going through the motions of life. Yes, you are living breathing but are you truly living?

Many years ago when NGOs first presented in Malawi there was this concept to provide a “lunch allowance” for participants of the meeting (WHO thought of this??) . This was to supplement their time. But I’m sure as you can imagine anyone that would hear of this would enjoy the idea of being supplemented, which leads to attendance becoming dependent on allowances and how much the allowances are…What’s wrong with that? Well, if people are only coming for allowances then can it be assumed that some people are only coming for allowances (aka not interested in the matter at hand!!)? And some great projects/ideas are not being shared/happening because there just aren’t funds for allowances. 

So sitting at the meetings those negative thoughts crept into my mind and spread like wild fire: are people invested? Do these people even care? Are YOU here just for the allowance? I caught myself. WHO is this person? When did I turn into the bad cop or God for that matter, judging a person’s motives? Just when I think I’ve rid myself of the “Ugly American” there she is AGAIN. Ugh. I took a deep breath and let it go.

Feel it all. Let it go.

Because this isn’t about me, it never was. For some reason I was given this opportunity and with luck, passion, and Moreen Ntambo I was granted $10,000.00 USD to help begin to form Maternal Health Task forces. No not everyone is going to be as emotional about the matter as I, but there is beauty in the details and nuances (as I thought I had learnt). The importance can be found in merely the presentation. The training of Safe Motherhood practices will be taking place this week and next. That is enough. For this time, this moment, this purpose. That is enough. 

But the heart says despite my minds logic, is that enough? Is this conversation? The meetings? The trainings? My heart says no, but in 9 months, in a meeting, with one policy, one newspaper article, one donation can I fairly challenge for more? Can I give so little and ask for so much? 

I don’t know.

update: I just read this quote : 

"By letting it go it all gets done. The world is won by those who let it go. 
But when you try and try. The world is beyond the winning."
- Lao Tzu

I think the uni-verse is trying to tell me something.

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