Every new international staff member of Food for the Hungry (FH) is required to attend an extended orientation period of three weeks, taking a more in depth look at FH as an organisation, how to live and work in another culture as well as many other things. For us however, things were a little different and we had a select numbers of the topics all crammed into one week taking place here in Sucre.
It would take too long to tell you about it all, so we have just put together a short snippet of what we looked at.
We are here in Bolivia to serve the people of Bolivia, and so first of all it is important that we understand clearly what it is to serve. Every morning we studied together a chapter of Darrow Miller's book 'SERVANTHOOD: The Vocation of the Christian.' These provided a thought provoking look at what attitudes we as servants should have, different areas of serving and most of all how Jesus served and what we can learn from him and then be challenged to implement into our own lives.
Food for the hungry
It is important for us to know what is the ethos behind the things that we do within FH, and what the mission, vision and values are. We knew some of these things before we arrived, and it was this small glimpse of what we saw that drew us to work with the organisation. In a nutshell FH exists to work with the poorest of the poor and help them to solve their own problems and improve the lives of their children and their community in four basic areas of need physical, spiritual, mental and social. The vision of FH worldwide is a vision of a community a vision of what a biblically based community can look like.
During our phase 2 programme we learnt more about the structure of FH and how it as an organisation is seeking to meet needs in the way that God wants needs met, and how FH as an organisation is continuing to evolve and grow.
One of our days we spent with a very humble man called Arturo Cuba who works for FH teaching and training staff about worldviews. A worldview being our inner belief and value system that dictates how we as individuals and communities act and react to different things. Apparently from as young an age as 7 a worldview has been set from what has been learnt and observed up to that point.
Arturo was talking about how it is possible to change a worldview, but that there needs to be a willingness to change which can and often means being at odds with the culture, resulting in actions and practices that need changing. This was an important concept for us to come to grips with as we seek to understand the people here in Bolivia, and for those who put together programmes and projects for FH to be involved with.
For example a sanitation project may be set up to install toilets in every home that are more hygienic than defecating all over the yard. However, it is unlikely that they will be used as defecating into the ground goes against the worldview and understanding of the sacredness of 'Pachamama'(Mother earth). In order for the people to understand and use a more hygienic way of doing their business, then their worldview, their system of beliefs and values first need to change.
With this in mind Arturo expresses the need to base any value and belief systems on the bible. Another example we looked at was with regards to children not going to school. When you keep asking the question Why? you eventually come down to the belief in a very fatalistic society that this hard way of living is how life is, and its never going to change. If you can change this belief, then the society slowly changes, people realize that it doesn't always have to be this hard, that there is a way out, then they begin to see the benefits of the children being educated and thus send them to school.