Thursday, February 13, 2020

It Can't Be About Us

I’m sure other people have written about this eloquently.

That is not what will happen here.

Today, I bring you another way to write about it. 

sans eloquence 

Over the last decade and a few spare years I watched and learned a lot in Haiti. I saw red-flags frequently.  I cannot speak to every red flag in every area in a single post. I can speak to just one today.  

There is a problem.  
It is not a small one.

In missions, non-profit, and humanitarian work there is a large issue with people that need to be needed.  

When they arrive to begin helping they maybe don’t consciously realize it but over time the payoff they get from being the provider/giver/helper or the 'patwon',  as we are often called in Haiti, begins to corrupt their pure motives.

At times I noticed myself sliding toward what I did not want to become. It was never overt, maybe just be a flashing thought. Maybe an icky little feeling or subconscious belief like, "I'm needed for this - or it won't / cannot happen." Usually I would catch it and talk to my head about the nonsense and danger of that narrative. 

Many working in this development/missions/aid arena feel and come to act as if they are the only ones that can solve the problems that exist in whichever land/city/village they’ve determined needs/wants their help — and their identity is wrapped up in being needed.  

Time passes, they don’t see clearly how they are beginning to self-identify only as the “helper”, “fixer”, “provider”, or, dare I say, “savior”.

When these workers that come to help others get a high from being needed they end up actually not really ever thinking of a way to work themselves out of a job because their own needs are being met by being NEEDED.  Eventually the “aide-workers” need the “poor” to need them  - or they won’t be okay. They enter into things that they shouldn't and hand out help wrecklessly and without enough examination and introspection.

They often fail at trying to go do something else in another line of work because they have become addicted to the glory or the payoff they felt being the one to provide a service or a thing for the downtrodden. They have trouble stepping down or handing over the reigns for the same reason.

This is why there are not succession plans in place and why founders of organizations get old and senile and then often die and let their organizations die with them — they couldn’t plan a future because it is really not about the people it is about them and their need to provide and control it -- they often lose all vision for a future that does not include themselves.  

Every organization should be thinking about what happens next and working to assure that the work is not about any one person or leader. 

Here is the thing. I knew I was capable of getting this way. My personality flaws include wanting to be a helper and feeling lost if nobody needs me. I hate that about me - it is an actual flaw in me that needs continual work. When I am in my right mind and thinking from a place of objectivity and health, I want NOTHING MORE than to get out before my identity is so singularly defined as to believe Haiti or Heartline needs me.  That is false. They do not.  

Haiti needs things, but it is not me.  I can both care about the place and also remove myself and act supportively to advocate and encourage the work to contiue without me. 

It can't be about us. 

PLEASE SEE: for information about the class and manual that share the model  - we ask and encouarge others to please copy what works - save yourself some heartache and a whole ton of mistakes and begin working in Maternal HealthCare with a bunch of the common pitfalls crossed off your list. That is what the point of the class and the manual is. All proceeds from the class go back into the Heartline Maternity Center, paying for supplies, salaries, and programs we offer.