Connecting local responses around the world
Sitting in the compound of a home in western Ghana we are talking to the members of the family. We are listening for evidence of the strengths these people have. They have a determination to give the children a good education. They are concerned that if the children keep getting sick, they'll miss out on the opportunities that an education will bring. The home is neat and tidy: there is order and calm. They speak respectfully about their neighbours and speak of the community's strong sense of belonging. These are strengths to affirm explicitly, and we do it. We ask about their hopes for the future. They talk with longing, evidence of the struggles they are facing today. They make a telling comment: "No one brings us together to talk about these things. We used to, but not anymore." This is said with a realisation of what is happening in this conversation. It is kindling hope and imagination. Hope and imagination. In my book these reflect something of the image of God and their createdness.
My mind turns to thinking about the church. "No one brings us together anymore"? This is surely the role of the church.
The visit closes after we ask the members of the family what action they think they could take to begin to address their concerns about the regularity with which the kids are getting sick. The responses are interesting and give further hope that they want to take more responsibility for their own health. "We will raise this concern (it is mainly about the sources of water locally being polluted) with our village chief and we could work together to protect the water sources."
Who was in the group that made this visit to the household? It was someone from the local church, someone from the health post and myself - the only 'outsider'. We went to listen, not to educate. We went as ordinary people, not as badge or status holders. We went in faith that we would see strengths and the ability to take the initiative and make a response in the local people. We were not disappointed. The role of the church in bringing people together and facilitation dialogue leading to action by communities themselves. Its so obvious! Support Us (the new name for USPG) http://www.uspg.org.uk/donate.php This story demonstrates how we are working to help people put the Hands on Health around the world.