Helping

I’ve been thinking a lot about helping whilst I’ve been here. Along with Adam Philips I strongly believe in Side Effects (the name of one of his books – a great read). He talks of unintended consequences or conversational tangents being more significant than those originally intended. For those of in the business of Capacity Building (if I had a South Sudanese pound for every time I heard that phrase… I could probably do a lot of damage) there is a sense of what ‘capacity’ looks like and more often than not the belief that sending people to workshops will help. Workshops notwithstanding what I’ve observed is that often the days and ways in which I think I’m being helpful are not, and the times I feel ready to run screaming in search of water, a clean toilet and the sacred gift of air conditioning are the times I wind up with an interesting conversation or finally getting agreement that someone will work with me on X, Y and Z. I was talking with a colleague about how task oriented we are at home. We often say that it’s all about relationships but the context here takes this to the nth degree. I get told off if I don’t physically shake hands with all 20 people I’m working with every morning.

Helping is a million times more complex than I ever thought it could be. It’s quicker for me to do many things myself but that doesn’t build capacity. If the person I’m working with (slowly) is also reluctant to take on responsibility for doing something and thus it looks like it won’t get done… is it helpful for me to do it? This is where the relationship comes in… for it’s on thr basis of this that I have to apply either tough love or a humble decision to get on with a piece of work that isn’t mine. There are no easy answers and for every tiny step of progress there are a couple taken back, but we are moving forward even if the steps are ‘small small’- enshallah.

3 thoughts on “Helping

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