There are Skills We Don’t Use

By: René Muhindo (Democratic Republic of Congo)Photo_7-001

We see a lot in our society: concepts and doctrines, theories and practices coming out of debates where the “weakest” are excluded.  Fortunately, everyone has the freedom to take a position that coincides with their own reality and situation.
To give just one example, in Bukavo, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, some companies place conditions before job candidates (some require them to have a certain amount of money), which blocks the way for those who would be useful for the community.

For other organizations, working for a development in solidarity, that means “making certain skills unusable” even though the growth of a community depends on the way in which its members skills are taken into account.

For 13 years, the association “Friends of All Together in Dignity” in Bukavu has experimented in giving important tasks to people of little means.  Emile, on of their members, explains: “Poverty has no target or race – if so we would see only one race or only one part of the population (children, women, or men) suffer from it.  And so the efforts of everyone have value in the struggle against poverty… Children have managed to mobilize the community… [one] day, the youth put terraces on a parcel, and the adults realized that the task was now theirs.  They then took action, each offering his support, and the work began.  Together we did a lot and we created the “group of families in solidarity”.  Once per month, we reflect together about our problems and our realities.  For each action, there is a responsibility for each person, and this contributes to the development of the community.

“On March 4th, the priest sent me a note and a key, thus giving me responsibility for the communal water hydrant.  It was like a dream because I hadn’t imagined that a doctor in theology could go so far as to confide responsibility to the poorest.  In the beginning, I was scared: fear and shame of being humiliated in front of everyone.  There is a shame (humiliation) that is habitual and normal and another which crushes.  Mine was embodied by the precarious nature of my life, and the judgments of others which made me believe I wasn’t capable.  I thought someone more well known, more ‘respectable” was needed, someone stronger, who could talk to the women and children who come every morning.  Often there are altercations between the women and the one who is responsible “pays the price.”

“Last month, each person responsible for the hydrant had to present a financial report, and I was surprised that I was the most honest in the financial management.

“For the moment, I am getting used to people, little by little.  I realize that bringing the poorest into activities gives the community more confidence in them.  If I die today, I am certain that my name will rest engraved in people’s memories.  Realizing the dignity of a person brings out the same skills that certain conditions crush.

(This post originally appeared in French on Un Monde Autrement Vue)


2 thoughts on “There are Skills We Don’t Use

  1. Many thanks for this post. How challenging it is to make this messages known to wider society!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!:
    -Extreme poverty is much more than purely economic or social status. Living in extreme poverty challenges a lot self-confidence, sense of self-worth.
    -And therefore it is essential to show to the “small ones” (in french we would say: “les petites gens”) that if they don’t yet believe in themselves, others do. And so they start believing again in themselves.


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