I am here to help people.

Hold on a second. Didn’t I just contradict the title of this post? Yes, I did. Intentionally.

I want to help people, but I don’t want to be seen as the all-knowing, all-powerful white foreigner who has the capacity of teaching people all the solutions they will need. Too many foreigners come here with that mentality, and so that’s how the locals view us. As a result, people have stopped taking the initiative to solve their own problems. Instead they wait for some foreigner to give them funding or provide them with solutions.

So I want to help, but I don’t want to be seen as someone who helps people, because that encourages a dependency on aid. I want people to believe that they have the capacity and ability to help themselves. I want to help people to help themselves.

The more people we send here to solve problems, the less locals believe in their own ideas or solutions. The more we give out for free, the less locals feel ownership over . And the more we tell people what to do, the less locals thinks for themselves.

If we want to “save” Africa, we need to stop helping people.

(Photo: Ziway, Ethiopia, 2009)