16 Jan 2018

And Then, Charity...

A comment by the good Caratacus made me run a search of my four K memory to find something I remember a young African lady saying so long ago. A lot of wot she said is lost in time and space or washed away on a tide of cheap wine. However, below is a précis of wot I remember. I guess it could almost classed as a parable now.

This lady stated that in one of a group of villages where she grew up, located in darkest Africa, a mother complained to her man that their small children were being unmercifully eaten alive of a night by mosquitoes due to the conditions making the little suckers particularly aggressive - the mosquitoes that is – and insisted he do something before the kids got sick. Seeing all the traditional methods had failed, the fellow put his brain to work and eventually came to the conclusion that some form of net would be of best help. He further figured that this netting would have to have a mesh size so as to preclude the ingress of mosquitoes but allow, for obvious reasons, the free passage of air.

With this basic idea he went to the next village where he knew of a lady who spent time spinning cotton into thread to see if she’d let him have some of said thread. After he explained his idea she agreed to his request on the proviso her family would get a net.

Back in his own village, and after a short period of trial and error, a net was knit and after the first nights use the net knitter’s good lady was delighted with the result. As, indeed, were the kids.

It wasn’t long before requests for nets were coming in and were knitted for various payments in kind - a bit of this an’ a barter for that; a little of which was passed to the thread spinner who in turn passed a little of that on to the raw crop chap.

It wasn’t long before a fellow from the big town, two days walk away, rolled into the village. He’d learned of the nets from a passing traveller and he presented the net knitter with the proposition to supply him with ex number of nets per month for him to sell in the big town for which he’d pay the net knitter with proper money.

Details agreed, the net knitter went to work and soon realised he needed help and thus started to pay, with proper money from his payment, a couple of villagers to help. He also started, much to the delight of the spinning lady, using proper money to pay for the thread.

The knock-on continued when the thread lady found she needed help and started to pay, with proper money, some ladies from her village to help spin up the thread.

She also found she needed more raw product and started paying the guy in the next village for the increase in demand using proper money. This chap discovered he also needed help to keep up with the new demand and started to employ fellow villagers paying them with proper money.

Things were starting to move in an ever upwards direction with all the varied knock-on effects created by so many folk suddenly having money. With this new found wealth flowing through the villages, the village elders started to explore the possibility of getting water piped to all the villages and even a rudimentary sanitary systems.

Then, one morning, the villagers were woken by the sound of loud engine noises and leaving their huts found a huge truck in the road. A white fellow alighted and announced he had a wagon full of mosquito nets. The villagers stated they would not be buying his nets as they already had a local supplier in the next village up the way. At this, ol’ whity happily announced that his nets were being donated by a charity and were already paid for by donations made by gulli... white folk and thus they were all, like, totally free.

Folk are the same the world over and the ‘free’ word hit home and they dived in. Before moving on, the charity chap happily announced that free water, food and clothing trucks would be along over the next few days and then monthly thereafter.

Shortly after this truck-stop, the guy from the big town cancelled his monthly order for nets as the market had, unsurprisingly, dried up. Thus the net knitter had to sack his helpers and shut down. The thread lady did likewise as did the raw crop chap and the elders stopped considering piping and sanitary ‘projects’.

Thus, with this new flow of free stuff everyone forgot their brief ‘golden age’ and went back to doing wot they were doing before. Nothing; other than sitting outside their huts talking about the state of the shithole they lived in while waiting for the arrival of the next truck-load of free stuff.

How does that old saying go? Teach a man to fish? Figuratively, those charities took those folks fishing rod off them and snapped it over their charitable knee.

Far fetched? Free stuff? Pause a moment and look around this country. We seem to have an ever increasing number of food banks, cloths banks and an incredibly generous ‘free’ money benefits system. So generous is it that to live on benefits has pretty well become a life style choice.

Right here, how long will it be before the folk sitting outside their homes, on a nice day of course, complaining to each other about the state of the shithole they live in while waiting for the the mobile food bank to roll-up and the benefit payment to roll-in, will outnumber the folk queuing for the seven thirty bus to work?

Quote; Will Leamon.

“Sooner or later there will always be a cost for ‘Free Stuff’.”


Ripper said...

Give a man a fish and he will eat for one day.
Teach a man to fish and he will eat for life.
Give a man someone else's fish and he will vote for you.

I recommend this series of 5 videos. A little old, but food for thought nonetheless. They average around 8 minutes each.


Ripper said...

Jeez, I make a comment and forget to mention the main thrust of it.. I think it must be the dementia setting in.. Anyway, the purpose of those videos serves to demonstrate that people in general, criticize these shitholes around the world because the people are poor and live in squalor. And they are right - these places are indeed shitholes. But they overlook the fact that they themselves live in the biggest shithole on the planet.

Caratacus said...

Marvellous story, fully illustrates the short-sightedness of folk in the west who pay far too much attention to the bolleaux on the BBC come fund-raising time. Perhaps a group of wise village elders could have foreseen this in time, set the dogs on whitey and then burnt his thrice-cursed free mozzie nets. That would have gone down well with the folk in Westminster trying to spend billions on African Spice Girls or whatever.

Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach him how to fish and he will sit by the canal and drink beer all day, surrounded by people telling him how he's doing it all wrong ...

Mac said...

Thanks - twice. I’ll watch those links tomorrow and report back.
Have a great weekend...

Mac said...

Thank you. Glad you enjoyed it - if enjoy is the right word and please share as and how you wish.
Below is an old comment I left in reply to a comment made by Ripper which is another first hand experience. Enjoy{?}
I remember far too many years ago, when I was just a pup working on mans boat, we picked up a cargo in the US for that outfit ‘Hands Across The Ocean’ or some such charity. Their emblem was a white and black hand locked in a shake? The cargo was sacked grain for Africa. I don’t remember the specific country. Grain always ships in bulk as the cost of sacks and then sacking the grain, was prohibitive so this was free, top quality sacked stuff.
Upon off-loading in Africa, the dockers where loading the sacks of grain onto trucks using Bill-hooks. As a result the sacks were bursting and the loss of grain was seen to be quite extreme. The ripped sacks where emptied onto the dock or in the sea and the empty sacks put to one side. Hundreds of ‘em.
We got to talking to the dockers and the reasoning became clear. The grain went off to government warehouses where it was stored ‘till a neighbouring country had a crop problem and it could be sold on at a premium to them, or the global grain price was right and it got sold onto the world markets. What the locals wanted, which was all they would see, was the sacks. If you have nothing, you can do a lot with a few quality sacks...