Life on a shoestring…

My latest hobby I developed in which I here is to weigh myself.  It’s a little trick I play on the blind people in Bahir Dar. It’s good fun.

Being blind, your jobIMAG1079 predicament seems to be to sit on the street with a balance in front of you. The blind tie themselves to it with a little shoestring as not to get robbed of their only business property. The 5 dollar cents they make is a simple reminder in how just a dire poor situation people live. In the blazing sun, they wait in an encroached posture for someone curious enough to find out his weight. On a positive note, this offers me the opportunity to give business to people who need it most, without being patronizing and without being white. I simply step up the scale, not really looking at the figure that pops up, thank them for the service and leave them the usual blessing.

It seems a paradox that after all that training and experience as a development worker I know no better than stepping up a scale. I should have developed a much more complex and refined approach keeping long-term results in mind. The more I get to know about development and the way it spins, the simpler I get (or the less I understand in Socrates’ words). I simply find fulfillment in handing out a coin to a lady in need and in the act she might brighten up my day as much as I brighten hers.

During the day, I spent my whole working day getting results as I am dealing with Bill Gates’ money, not mine. I find fulfillment in that; turning a rich man’s dollar into poor people’s three dollars (my job description). Yet I wonder if there is not more to life.

Ethiopia seems like the ultimate biblical setting with donkeys, lame, dirt roads and all. I have the pleasure of meeting beggars on a daily basis, along with the opportunity to serve them in a Jesus kind of fashion. Yet I don’t really. It feels more like annoyance than opportunity. The beggar on the street is the same guy that tries to get in my pockets with one hand as they try to ‘sell’ me some gum with their other. It’s the guys that the Ethiopian government forbids me to give to. It’s the lime-sniffers and the drunk. I Know, I know, I shouldn’t judge… but it disturbs me on my way heading to work claiming to work for the poor in this country.

The most inspiring person in human history once said “it is more blessed to give that to receive”. I just love how the new pope Francis in a position of authority and responsibility simply sneaks out at night to feed the homeless; breaking all rules. It reminds me I can never outgrow the importance of stopping for a second and talk to a beggar on the street.

At the moment, the blind shoe stringed lady offers me a way to echo Jesus, as Francis is doing, in my own little way. It works for me. I hope it does for the blind lady too.

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About Janno

A young development worker in Africa
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4 Responses to Life on a shoestring…

  1. Bas says:

    Dat was te lang geleden jongen. Goed verhaal. Ik las dat de bedelaars (en priesters!) in Tigray ook nogal veelvuldig een ‘opportunity to serve’ aanbieden… 😉

    • jannovdl says:

      haha, dat wordenkansen volop voor ons jongen;) volgende post moet zeker gaan over vastzitten in de woestijn, eindeloze groene vlakten, jouw orthodoxe doop, barstende vulkanen en wie weet voeg je een nieuwe afrikaanse dans aan je reportoire toe..

  2. Wim says:

    Mooi verhaal weer Janno, en idd, die Francis is een dope Pope, respect…AAAAIGHT.
    Alleen was het Socrates die dat zei, niet Aristoteles. en het was ‘the more I learn, the less I understand. Maarja, je kan neit alles weten 😉


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