Forgotten Voices' Mission:

"Demonstrating the love of Jesus Christ by equipping local churches in southern Africa to meet the physical & spiritual needs of children orphaned by AIDS in their communities."

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The 24 Shoes

1 of 2 Updates Today.

I'm not really sure who reads this blog as I am fairly new to writing on it myself, but I want to take this first update and speak specifically about what my feelings are on Forgotten Voices International. Maybe some donors read this blog and they will be confirmed in there expectations, maybe some friends (non-doners) read this blog and they will be motivated to give, and maybe people just read cause they are friends/family with Ryan, and now myself I suppose.

There are huge N.G.O.'s that come in here to Southern Africa and make certain impacts, i.e. your World Visions, your food relief organizations, and there are people on opposing sides of the spectrum who would argue to the effectivness (in the long and short run) of these monster organizations. But FVI has got this niche, and it really carved out something wonderful and it has really started to make some serious in-roads to helping those who suffer around these parts. I see it with my own eyes now. It is life effecting. Not only my own life but more importantly those lives that FVI is specifically effecting.

You see, FVI has an interesting way of operating, a way that I believe (with my limited knowledge of other N.G.O.'s working around here) that it is more rare than commonplace. FVI's goal is not to come into a situation throw money at it and then run away. FVI does not take a 'holier than thou' attitude, meaning we are coming from the first world (the better world) and we are here to help you the third world (the lesser world). FVI does not take the assumption that we know more about a given community or a set of people then the people themselves. If FVI held any of these stances then they would be foolish and useless. The best thing about the make up of FVI is that they (as I have learned working immediatly with Ryan) engage themselves in conversations with the leaders of these certain communities, (1. The Free Methodist Church in the socially [very highly AIDS infected] and economically [extremely poor] deprived western suburbs, 2. The Mtshabezi National AIDS Mission/and Hospital, 3. Theological College of Zimbabwe [TCZed as the Zimbabweans call it], 4. Christian Leadership Resource Center [CLRC], 5. Plus more initiatives and plans in progress) find out what they deem the best practices - since they know their people and they know there country better then FVI, how presumptious of FVI would it be to think otherwise? - and then work cooperativly to see how they can help.

Finally, not to belabor this obvious point of how much I apprreciate FVI, a quick story that helps dramtically highlight why I respect FVI and its strong hold on its mission. The first time (a while ago now) that Ryan and I went to visit the Mtshabezi Mission we went out into the homesteads (as I believe has been reported by Ryan) with Gordin and Obert. But we first went to a local Mtshabezi primary school were FVI supports 12 of the orphans. The children had been walking and attending school for months without shoes. Part of this group of 12 were talked about in previous blogs, Shelton, Consillia, and Margaret. But Forgotten Voices supplied the money (thanks to donor efforts) to buy the 24 shoes for these 12 children in need, while the Mtshabezi mission purchased them and saw the necessity for these 12 children. The 24 shoes were in the back of our truck. Gordin had all of the kids line up in anticipation. Ryan and I retrieved the shoes from the truck and began to hand them to Gordin and Obert. Gordin and Obert waited for Ryan and myself to start handing out the shoes to the kids ourselves. Ryan quickly said 'no' to them, he made it clear that the point of this specifc project was for the leaders of this community to be the ones supplying the aid to these orphans in need. It was not about Ryan or myself or America with our five pairs of shoes each, sneakers, dress, sandles giving to these kids. It was about the community living to sustain. It would be easy for Ryan to take the credit, to hand out the shoes and see the smile on the kids faces and get that obligatory satisfaction; but he helped FVI hold to their mission. This was important for me to see, and I think it makes a strong statement.

Thanks for reading,

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