I am who I am because of who we all are…I am because we are
I have learned much about the essence of being human through Tom Logan, co-founder of Marion Medical Mission. He and his wife, Jocelyn, have directed the Shallow Well Program for the last 25 years, helping to install about 27,000 shallow wells in Malawi, Tanzania, and Zambia, Africa. Those wells have enabled three to four million villagers to have safe drinking water. Only a small number of them have ever had safe drinking water, “since the beginning of mankind,” according to one of the village elders my wife, Susie, and I met in Malawi last fall. We are proud to have assisted with 144 wells of the 2,754 installed in 2016, and we are planning to return to Africa in the future.
Notice I said “assisted.” Tom was very clear that the wells belonged to the villagers; we were only there to assist. They located the subsurface water source, dug the 15 to 25 foot well, formed and baked the clay bricks, laid the brick walls of the well, and created the concrete cap to keep the water clean and apron to drain away excess water. We Americans raised the $450 needed to pay for the cement, pipe, pump, and wages of the African field officers, well building supervisors, and installation supervisors. We Americans drove Toyota Land Rovers loaded with well parts over rough terrain to remote villages. Once there, we recorded the GPS location and construction data on an android, checked the quality and safety of the well, and celebrated the completion of the well with a dedication ceremony.
Only together, Africans and Americans, were we able to be who God created us to be. Only together did safe drinking water become available to thousands of villagers. Together, people of color and white people actualized a dream, became friends and established relationships, and served one another. Together, we sang songs and praised God for His goodness. The attached video is a gift of song to my wife and me for coming to their town in Malawi and assisting with wells. The verses are, “Who will enter into Heaven? Our father is there. Only the holy will enter. You are holy. Enter into Heaven. Our father is there.” Susie and I felt we had entered into Heaven for those moments of the song. I still tear-up when I watch that video. Gestures of love from God’s children are powerful. The people of Malawi have such open and warm hearts.
I write this story to illustrate how people who are different can effectively come together and achieve a dream. In this land the “American Dream” is at stake. The only way people of color and white people can actualize that dream is to become friends, establish relationships, and work together, as we did in Africa. The time for such an encounter is now; it is long past due. And, if we do not succeed today, what kind of world will our children and grandchildren inhabit tomorrow?
Ubuntu, I am who I am because of who we all are. Invite the Table Setters to your church, school, business, or community organization and allow them to facilitate relationship building. It’s diversity training on a personal level. Many of us know very little about people who are different. Come to the table; share at the table; stay at the table; and come back to the table. Only through relationship building can we learn who we all are and, as a consequence, learn who each one of us are. I am because we are.