Hale in Tansania
– ARCHIVE –
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“Give a man a fish, he’ll eat for a day; teach him how to fish, and he’ll eat for a lifetime.”
This is the guide to our actions. It sounds so simple, but it is only evident later how difficult that “teaching” is. Teaching in this case is not the “know-it-all” kind of teaching, but the exchange of experiences, the showing of skills, and of self-help. Self-help that considers and respects the culture and lifestyle of the people.
The idea of preserving food has been engrained in us in Europe, especially in the Hotzenwald. To separate oneself from the whims of nature and make oneself more independent through the preservation of life’s essentials protects us in these latitudes.
In Africa, where famine and abundance go hand-in-hand, and often depend only on one rain that may or may not come, this thinking is still foreign. In addition, the climatic conditions make preserving or stockpiling of existing resources often impossible.
Preserving food through freezing, sterilizing, smoking, or canning is unknown, and even drying is difficult to do, as the high humidity often makes food go mouldy. Many opportunities fail because water first has to be boiled before it comes in contact with food.
In order for a family to live sustainably, they would have to cultivate approximately 4 hectares, but only 1 hectare is possible to clear with a hoe and machete. A tractor and plough, which can alleviate the hard labour, is therefore the best way to a secure their livelihood.
Unfortunately such small scale farming, which was still common in the Hotzenwald region of Germany (southwest Germany, in the Black Forest) in the post war years, is not known in the region of Hale. Mind you, there are very large farm operations, agribusinesses with up to 1,000 cows, that are run in accordance with acceptable standards, but these do not benefit the people in the villages and outlying areas. The used tractor from Germany contributes in a way that can benefit many people.
One focus of our work is to secure “our daily bread”. Another focus is to support people with disabilities and orphans. Widows and children with disabilities have the greatest need in an area with the highest death rate because of Aids, as there is no help from the government. These people are alone and often depend on charity. They do not require technical help, but simply money that will help them survive.
In addition to the necessary emergency support, education is the most sustainable form of help. In Hale, education starts in preschool, where children are prepared for a good start in public school. The church preschool, with more than 40 children and one trained educator, is doing a wonderful job.
This, however, is only possible if the children from the villages and outlying areas can be picked up and brought to school. The small bus, which was purchased through donations, is necessary for this job. Here too, money is the only help we can provide.
“Donations for a good cause” is a common phrase, but a differentiation must be made. There are emergencies in the world, where only large charities (Adveniat, Misereor, Bread for the World, etc.) can help. These have the capacity and financial potential for it.
In addition, there is long-term and sustainable help that can be provided, as in the case of Hale. Its goal is to provide decent life for the long-term, i.e. work towards lasting improvement. This is only possible by working towards one goal over years, and through good dialogue between those who are helping and those who are receiving help.
A word from Antoine de Saint-Exupery comes to mind:
“You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed.”