If you give a man an inch, he’ll want a mile; or in this case, if you give a man a $10,000 water system, he’ll want milk for his tea. I should reassure you at this point that it wasn’t the request for milk that made me cry. It’s the concept. If given a $10,000 water project, the community will expect lunch to be cooked while they come to install it at their school for their children; after lunch, they’ll want tea and with tea they’ll need sugar, milk, and crackers.
After running around all day to accommodate and personally provide and cook lunch for the community to help install “my” water project, I was forced to rethink about aid. Obviously, we all know giving too much aid can create a dependent culture and an inability to achieve goals. In a way, this incapacitates the community one is aiming to assist. But, where is the line? How much aid is okay and when does it create this dependent attitude?
My strong desire to help my school and my commitment to finish this water project may in fact be getting in the way of capacity building, a main Peace Corps goal. The true question is, will I ever complete “my” water project if I don’t go above and beyond and walk the community through the steps?