Service Trips Hurt Way More Often Then They Help, So Check Yourself

Service Trips Hurt Way More Often Then They Help, So Check Yourself

When I decided to go on the trip, I wanted to reduce the harm being done using my US-given gifts. But the closer I look, the harder it is to truly help anyone even with these gifts.
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As I prepare for my trip to Uganda, I’ve come to realize how easy it is for help to turn into harm. For example, when seeing children who are selling me something, I might want to give them money to help them out. However, that child might have stolen the thing they are selling which isn’t a good long-term behavior.

Or worse, it encourages them to continue in this sort of business instead of going to school. In the end, getting an education is the best long-term benefit a child can receive. Another thing I might want to do is to give a small gift to some rural children. However, this can encourage them to expect handouts and beg. It is astounding to see how such good intentioned acts can become harmful.

Initially, when I decided I wanted to go on the trip, I wanted to reduce the harm being done to the people I met using the gifts I was given by virtue of being born in the US. However, the closer I look, the harder it is to truly help anyone even with these gifts. Even in Uganda which is relatively stable and developing, the president, Yoweri Museveni, has become more like a dictator and is doing terrible things like sentencing homosexuals to life in prison or censoring media. Nevertheless, it would be considered a paradise by anyone in neighboring South Sudan which has been racked with civil war since 2013.

Faced with such odds, the small things seem to be the only things I can do. Having a conversation, opening the door, and saying a thank you are tiny but manageable things I can do. Plus, all great things begin with a small step. Such is the story of Maggy Barankitse. Born in Burundi, just south of Rwanda, Maggy grew up to be a school teacher.

She would go on to become secretary for the bishop. The Burundi civil war commenced in 1993 between the Tutsi and Hutu. It would result in 200,000 Burundians dead and 600,000 orphaned. Early during the war, Maggy was working at the bishop’s house with her seven adopted children. On October 24, 1993, Tutsi assailants attacked the bishop’s house.

They tied Maggy, who was Tutsi herself, to a chair and murdered 72 people in front of her before burning the whole place down. She eventually got free and saved 25 children in addition to her seven adopted children. They moved to a social worker’s house and lived there. Year after year, more orphans flocked there which led to Maison Shalom, an organization giving a home to thousands of children affected by the civil war.

Such an amazing mission began with a relatively big first step of saving 25 kids. But, that began with her being an ordinary secretary for the bishop. Her incredible story gives me hope for the potential good that can come out of incredible evil. My hope is to help others from harm in the best way that I can. I am glad I get to be one tiny part of a force for good.

Cover Image Credit: Bill Wegener

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To The Girl Who Hasn't Been Herself Lately

Your spark return, and you will shine like you were meant to.
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Life gets tough. Life gets too much to handle sometimes, and those times make you stronger. However, right now, it seems like you have lost yourself.

It’s difficult when you catch yourself not being you. When you do something or act a certain way and just wonder, “what did I do to deserve this? Why is this happening? When will it get better?” The way you’re feeling is not so much that you’re unhappy, you just feel weird.

Your day will come. I promise you. This is just a phase.

The day you realize how much you have grown from this point in time will be your reward. It is so hard to see now, and I feel your pain.

Your light will return to you. Your pure bliss moments, they are seeking you. Your laughter where your tummy aches is in your reach.

Our moods change far too often for us as humans to understand why, but the encounters you make every day have this effect on us.

You must remember the pure happiness you experienced before your first heartbreak, before the first friend became someone you thought they weren’t, before you lost your innocence. That was a time of true joy as you had not a care in the world for the things that would harm you. Better yet, you didn’t have the option to experience them because you were just a child.

The world can be an ugly place, and your attitude towards life can change every day. One thing is for certain: you did not lose who you are internally. We all put on a face for the world. For the people who we try to impress. For the life we want to live. For the things we want to achieve.

Your definitive personality is still in the works. Believe it or not, it always will be. Times like this change us for the better even though we can’t see it.

Your happiness will return. You will be a better, stronger version of you. In fact, you will be the best version of you yet.

Once this phase is over, you will be okay. This I promise you.

Cover Image Credit: Megan Sutton

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To The Girl Who Feels Pressured to Settle Down, Don't

I know how tough it is to face the world but, keep fighting. Don't give up yet.

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Hey girl,

You.

Yes, I am talking to you.

The girl who feels like she is carrying the entire burden of the world.

I know how pressured and worried you feel. You are in your late 20s and while it still feels like you are not an adult yet, your friends and cousins settling down says otherwise. I know how lonely and chained you feel, the suffocation and dread that you have to experience every day. You aren't afraid of settling down but you are scared to do it out of family and peer pressure. You aren't afraid of the big commitment but are terrified that you will be forced to choose the wrong life partner for it.

We all have been there. Counting the days till the closest of our friends and relatives get married because, we know. Once they are done, it is going to be our turn. Everyone starts finding the perfect match for you and forces you to meet guys you have never even heard of before. Your skin crawls and stomach churns every time you have to endure one such meeting but, what can you even say? Your parents emotionally blackmail you and your friends getting married doesn't help your case at all.

But, what I am here to tell you is that it is okay to be scared and vulnerable during such times. Just don't settle because you are scared of dissappointing your family or because you are scared to be alone. Hold your head high and work on your life, make it better. And when it is time for you to settle down, you will know.

You will know and you will find the most amazing partner who will make you feel like this is what being safe and home feels like. He will love you whole, with your flaws and your quirks, and he will make you realize why it didn't work out with anyone before. He will make you laugh and cry, curse and stutter, and you will be happy to finally tie the knot with your own prince charming. Once you are ready and it is time, you will meet the perfect guy for you and you won't feel afraid anymore. Settling down won't seem intimidating or like a task anymore.

So, wait. Wait for the moment, the perfect time to settle down. Trust me, you will know when it arrives and everything will fall into place smoothly. Till then, enjoy your life and live to the fullest. Go and travel the world or learn all the new things that you have ever wanted to try. Learn new languages or some exciting adventure sports. Read books and make something out of yourself. Work hard and achieve what you always dreamt of becoming. But most of all, be happy and live your life.

You will have time to grow up later and start your life again with someone. There is absolutely no need to hurry. So, next time your best friend gets married and you don't know what to do with your life, take a deep breath and focus on what you want. Focus on the best parts of your life and don't give up.

Next time your parents force you to meet someone to settle down, learn to say 'No', Because, this is your life and unless you learn to take responsibility for it, you won't ever truly live it.

So, keep fighting and don't keep any regrets. Life is too short to be living on someone else's terms. Fall in love. Get your heart broken. Be strong. Because, there is only so much you can compromise on but love, love shouldn't be one of those things.

Love,

The girl who understands

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