(Note: due to the fact we cannot blog as normal, I am trying an experiment with pictures. If they appear to small, I will repost. This is a fun story and we wanted you to capture the joy of it along with us.
"I am taking komuz lessons," Janelle told me," but I don't have one. ( It is the traditional musical instrument of Kyrgyzstan.) Those words came from a precious 13 year old living in a local orphanage. My normal reaction would have been, "we will get you one right away." However, her request set me to thinking and offering an entirely different response.
Just before we left for Kyrgyzstan, my daughter, Kristy, recommended a book to us. When Helping Hurts has transformed my thinking. We are thinking differently about what we are doing, what we are saying, how we are giving and supporting. Are we helping when we "just hand-out?" or are we ultimately hurting another's self –worth? Are we being culturally sensitive or do we believe that the North American way of doing things is always best?
What does this paradigm shift have to do with a 13 year old orphanage youngster and a komuz? As I looked at Janelle that evening she told me about her need, I asked her a question. "Do you want to work for it?" I explained my plan (created on the spot that night J), that it would be so good to "learn to earn." She told me five other children also went to lessons with her and wanted an instrument with which to practice. So we came up with a plan.
The following week, I went to the orphanage director with our "learn to earn" plan and explained it to her. She loved it. Emma Wright, who translated for me and works a lot in this orphanage, created a musical staff whose notes could be filled in with smileys for extra work being done, good school grades, being kind to another child, etc. The six children learning this traditional Kyrgz instrument would only have to "work" for a week and then they would have one – actually two.
Today, the children received their reward. I hope that they feel differently about it because it was something that they earned. It wasn't a hand-out. It really wasn't a gift. It was the result of working hard and reaping the reward of a job well done.