Friday, August 21, 2009

Careful Giving

A previous post focused upon the ingenuity and resourcefulness of Rwandese children: bicycles made of wood, soccer balls made of trash. I observe and join them with great amazement, joy, and affection. I tamper with hesitation and caution.

There are occasionally special circumstances in which I feel comfortable being more proactive than simply joining in play. This recently occurred in a remote village on Lake Burera that I have visited many times. The villagers know me by sight (that’s pretty easy for them) and many by name, “Tomallen”. I know many of them by name, and have “dined” with them in their homes. (This element of "personal relationship" may be a key distinction between careful giving and harmful, reckless giving.)

The children love to play soccer, or rather “foooootbull”, but I had never seen in this village a real soccer ball, nor have they (to the best of my knowledge). So courtesy of Tony Scott (who shipped over an case of deflated soccer balls and ball pumps), I returned with a new “real deal” soccer ball and ball pump, and a lesson in leadership and community development:

With a throng (mostly children) gathered around, and through an interpreter, I called forward a very special young boy, John Robert. He is not the oldest. He is neither the tallest nor the strongest. But he sparkles and exudes the qualities of a servant leader. We had a discussion about the qualities of a servant leader,… and about selflessness, and trustworthiness, and fairness.

Then out came the new soccer ball and I asked if he was willing to serve as “The Keeper of the Ball”,... and I asked the others whether they were willing to respect and support him as he fulfilled his civic responsibilities. There were shouts of joyous affirmation.

Pretty fun. They “THANK YOU”, Tony, Teresa, and Madison Scott!