For 100 days in 1994, the world abandoned Rwanda as the country’s majority tribe, Hutu, attempted to exterminate the minority tribe, Tutsi. In the midst of the chaos God protected a Tutsi man who has forgiven his enemies and launched a ministry to orphans and widows, http://www.ermrwanda.org. Last evening, Nancy and I went to an event where this humble and amazing man, Emanuel, spoke.
At one point during his presentation he paused and asked us, “Is it good to feed people who are starving on the street?” As you would expect, almost everyone in the audience nodded affirmingly. Emanuel continued, “Feeding people on Rwanda’s streets is hurting them more than it is helping them.”
He went on to explain why free food is a bad idea in Rwanda. Briefly, when food is available on the street, people leave their struggling attempts to recreate family structures and go to the street to get food. Without the availability of free food, people use their own ingenuity to survive. Intuitively, they know that they need supportive social structures, that is, families, to survive. However, creating a family out of a group of widows and orphans is extremely difficult. So, when free food is available it is easier to abandon the attempt to create a family and stand in line for food. When the feeding program ends, the people who were being served are actually worse off than they were before it started. Now they need to start over with building a sustainable social structure.
Providing free food sabotages the process of building a sustainable solution to the deep problems that plague the Rwandan people.
Emanuel’s solution is to teach the widows and orphans how to create families. (For similar reasons to his opposition to feeding programs, he is also opposed to orphanages.) His ministry wants to help orphans and widows start and grow profitable businesses. This is where Anda Leadership comes into the picture. We are exploring how we can work with Emanuel to train Rwandan’s to launch and grow businesses.
Would you like to help? Send me an email and let me know. We have a window of opportunity to help build a nation!