There was much to learn during our February trip to India. One important lesson related to the difference between those who bring relief from the storm and those who walk with a village through a long term relationship. Both are important, but have different goals and impact. The fishing village we visited across the backwaters of the Bay of Bengal is a great example. The “untouchables” homes were destroyed during the tsunami several years ago. A relief agency rebuilt a small village of about 30 homes. During the rebuilding they provided a well, latrines, and even bathing cubicles. They gave them the resources (the fish), but they did not walk through with them how or why to change their health practices.
It was fascinating to see important “health structures” such as the well and latrines completely run down and unused. It was also very sad to hear of a child’s death related to severe diarrhea and seeing no connection in the village’s understanding of what the water and latrines could have done to prevent the death. This was a great example of bringing the village a Western solution without working with them to change health practices. As we stood and watched them cast their fishing nets, the phrase came to mind that they did not need a fish, they needed to be taught how to fish when it comes to health.
Since the relief agency rebuilt the village, VisionTrust has brought a Learning Center to the village and has begun a long-term partnership. One of the goals of the partnership is to walk with a community from where they are at toward practices that can bring a more abundant life to them (teaching them to fish). VisionTrust is committed to long term partnerships with the Learning Centers of India- we will walk with them, learn from them, and we will learn to “fish” together through God’s grace and wisdom!