Mwaka Moja

Previously, I talked about the entrepreneurship training on April 3-6. I followed up with those who attended, but I didn’t expect them to have started yet. I thought I would follow up, encourage them to get going, and then wait until June to see some progress.

To my surprise, 5 of the 7 that I visited had already started.

  • Peter Manana (upper pictures) found a friend and they started a vegetable garden on a 20 x 5 meter piece of land that his friend’s father owned.
  • Rajabu Masudi (lower picture) started selling phone lines for 2 different networks. For each line, he makes fifty cents, in addition to a small monthly salary.
  • Mama Leah Augustino started buying fresh minnows at the lake shore and selling them at a market a few miles away. For each gallon, she makes $4 of profit. She has also started selling fried peanuts, and would like to start selling bar soap, once she gets $15 of capital.
  • Elder Steven Baruani found another elder who would pay for the materials for a small chicken house, provided that Elder Steven would do the work of building it. Now that they are finished, both men have the right to use the chicken house. Elder Steven is just waiting for a little money to buy a few chickens. They run about $5/chicken.
  • Elder Isaya Sango took a $20 loan from the Pamoja savings group to buy the materials to start making soap. He paid back the loan, and has now made $30 profit.

It seems that all of these folks already knew about these opportunities before the entrepreneurship training. What the entrepreneurship training seems to have given them is confidence. Apparently, this is all they needed to get going.

I also want to share some thoughts I have about this last year of serving in Northern Tanzania. (Monday, May 15th, was one year exactly. The title means “One Year”.)

I’m trying to live the same kind of life the Tanzanians live.

But am I just sacrificing efficiency? Would the Tanzanians prefer that I just get to work instead of worrying with living the same kind of life they live?

When folks ask me for money, I either say no or give them tiny amounts. I reason that the money I have was donated to me for the work I’m doing, and that this work will help them to provide for themselves.

But when I don’t give, I’m either depriving them of their immediate physical needs, or accusing them of lying about their needs. Can I be justified in depriving someone of their physical needs? And do I want to become a suspicious, cynical person who tends to believe that people are lying about their needs?

I don’t talk about Jesus much. I try to live like him, and show what a self-sacrificing servant leader looks like. Jesus gets talked about a lot in these churches, but self-sacrifice remains rare among the leaders.

But might it help them to hear it more clearly? Could that be why it doesn’t influence their lives, that Jesus isn’t explained enough?

When I don’t see quick results, I don’t feel too worried. Cross-cultural love is a long-term sort of love that takes years to mature and show results. If I focus on building a strong foundation, then the results will be much greater than they would be if I had worried about seeing results every few months.

Or am I a dreamer? Am I hiding from results because, well, it’s easier if you don’t have to be bothered by them?

I don’t write this to say, “Please tell me that I’m right”. These questions describe real areas of doubt, where I could change my mind. If you think I should change my mind, I’d love to talk with you over email, on Skype, or when I’m in the States. Thank you for listening, and for the times that you have prayed for me, friends.


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