Saturday, January 10, 2009

the little guy

A child is born and a mamas torn about the life that it’s bound to live
A sun and moon and a modest home is all they asked can the lord to give
But politics and big events never seem to notice the little guy
So make a plan, or simply hold a hand, but don’t ever be a passerby
Tolerance or violence and the whole world goes to war.
Is one enough? Or is one too many, before we say no more?

~ Michael Franti

Because I doubt I can capture it better than Michael Franti, I will start with the lyrics from one of his songs and go from there. I chose this song because it is about the little guy and the little guy is who I feel incredibly connected to when I am based in the bush. Politics and big events never seem to notice him and so I will take a minute to honor the idea of him.

I unexpectedly returned to Liberia 6 months ago after having been back in Denver for 5 short months. It was not planned, nor was it necessary the easiest thing I have ever done (especially given the events that unfolded at home while I was away) but I do not regret my choice and, as I prepare to depart, I am left feeling once again humbled and touched by my experience.

I came to help build the local NGO our international NGO hopes to leave behind when we leave. This group is the ultimate representation of the ‘little guy’ and although it was a rough start, fraught with corruption, dishonestly and failure, this small group of dedicated psycho-social counselors have managed to recover from a series of impressive blows and are now well on their way of becoming a sustainable entity.

Since my return they have managed to solidify 3 grants and two more are in the works. This is their life support. These small successes are amazing, especially given the state of the world economy; and yet, I knew they could do it if they were able to capture exactly who they were and what they hoped to do. My part was small. What has happened concretely means less to me than what has happened abstractly and my only hope is that the outcome of this endeavor is not what thet managed to accomplish but who they became while accomplishing it.

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