Giving 04 October 08

Today I got my refridgerator up and running. It brought on all kinds of questions about sharing my things, I put the fridge in the spare bedroom. The only other plug was in the livingroom and I had visions of little kids always opening my fridge and asking for the contents. So I was thinking the contents of the fridge are off limits. Out of sight out of mind.

These thoughts brought up the whole dilemma of people wanting things. I am a Peace Corps Volunteer for goodness sakes I want to save the world so it’s very hard saying no. I do it but i feel terrible. People in my circle of friends here don’t  do this. It is bascially strangers who see my white skin and make assumptions about my wealth. It happens everywhere. I am in town ,or on a bus or in a store even here on campus some workmen have asked and someone assumed I would bring copies of Microsoft XP and MSOffice with me for the schools computers. Sometimes they ask for big things, can I have your camera sometimes they ask for little things a .50 pesowa bag of sugar or for money. I always say no to them. The camera is an easy on. Somethings I can’t give away Peace Corps says my med kit is only for me.  It’s the small things that really make me feel bad.

Some PCV’s don’t give anything to the children in the neighborhood. Well from the story of bubble gum Sunday you know I do. I also give them pencils and sometimes food. But I give it to children I know and have a relationship with. Like I would with any other neighborhood kids. Sometimes I offer sometimes they ask. Sometimes I say no when they ask. Sometimes I say yes. And from the sardines and gari story you know they are also giving to me. Dizzy especially always has some thing to offer me.  I think Oh I want to buy the kids back to school things like pencils, erasers etc. or wonder what cool fun things I could find in town for the kids.

So should I have bought sugar for the workmen at the new boy’s dormitory?  This one guy said to me we need sugar for our coffee buy it for us. And I said I need a new refridgerator will you buy it for me? It’s just that a total stranger assuming I should buy him something really irks me. Who knows I may have made them something and brought it to the site after I visited a few times and they answered my questions etc. Or some of the 30 pack of water sachets that simona gave me from her uncle’s factory could have ended up there and cold to boot since i have a fridge now.

I guess I want to see a need and offer to help instead of it being assumed because a person has a need I will fill it. But also I want to enable people to help themselves. I told one girl to come over and she could do some work for me and then she could buy the flip flops herself.
I am in many ways a teacher not just in the classroom. And I never like giving the answer to students but helping them to figure it out.

Then I wonder if there is some kind of cultural misunderstanding on my part. Maybe the language is just more direct here and my perception of a rude abrupt request is just the way people ask for things.

I think this is a dilemma my heart and head will battle with the whole time I am here.

-vc

Update 26 Oct 08 My fridge is not running. I have to get a repairman to look at it. Drats!  Cold water was sooo nice!

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