News from Development

What do you do when there is essentially no infrastructure? You have to build it. What do you do when there are no opportunities? You have to create a context that offers them.

(Pictures to follow.)

As I’ve shared about the work of Lemuel over the years, I have picked up on something. Generally, it is not difficult to explain the importance of education for underprivileged kids (ie, what our school does) to people in an already developed country. It is something they automatically understand and can get excited about relatively quickly.

However, I think it is difficult for many people in developed contexts to fully grasp the integral and complementary importance of what our development department does. While I'm not an expert, I suspect the reason is that most people living in developed countries today have never had to think about certain things. These things are already there and have been there as long as current generations can remember.* Things like

  • roads to get from here to there without breaking up your car

  • available jobs (of any kind)

  • available water

  • existing buildings

  • medical facilities

  • government initiative and funding to provide things like water, electricity, etc

  • Home Depot down the road (back to first point) when you need supplies

Just for a moment, take all those things (and more) away. Imagine life without them. No roads. No available jobs. No infrastructure to provide water, electricity, trash collection, etc. Only severe water scarcity, gardens that no longer give a harvest, and no conceivable possibility for improvement.

Now imagine you are going to educate kids. You have a heart to invest in and develop PEOPLE.

Assuming you can somehow get the things you need to run a school, after you have educated, trained, and prepared them…where will they go? What will they do? They will have no choice but to leave their community and seek to make a life elsewhere.

Here’s the point I want to make: In a developed country, you would simply educate, train, prepare, and then send your students out to plug into or to build on the already existing infrastructure and opportunities. Generally speaking, you have the luxury of focusing only on education or discipleship, because all the other stuff is already there.

What do you do when there is essentially no infrastructure? You have to build it. What do you do when there are no opportunities? You have to create a context that offers them.

THAT’s what our development department does.

They strengthen the family structure through job creation and economic stimulation. (If fathers and mothers can find jobs, they stay with their families instead of seeking work elsewhere. They can support their families with dignity and independence, and they can even work toward a better future.)

They work to provide basic survival needs, like water.

They tackle systems of infrastructure like roads.

They address devastating, society-affecting environmental factors like deforestation.

They assist families in improving their lives through better construction and home water cisterns.

They offer hope to youth as the young people see growth and opportunity in their own hometown.

And at the same time, they invest in the people on their staff, so that they can learn to do with excellence jobs for which they (had no previous training) were never trained. In fact, just working in a job context is a whole learning process! They invite young men in the community to invest their lives in something bigger than just than motorcycles, girls, and aimless, “cool-guy” wandering.

There is so much more that could be said. We are considering only one angle here. But, as you look at the pictures below, I hope you can gain at least a sense of the constant, energetic, and vital work going on behind the scenes to bring glory to God through the work of development in our community.

*Consequently, I sometimes wonder how different a conversation with, say, an American pioneer from the 1800’s might be. I imagine that it could be exactly the opposite: Their experiences would have prepped them to automatically understand the challenges and importance of development, and perhaps have more difficulty understanding the need for a schoolroom education.

A picture of our Development and Transport staffs on their day to lead our monthly Staff Chapel.
The entrance into our development department. R and M wave from the porch of the Transport Office.

The Transport office is responsible for Lemuel's water trucks and transport vehicles. It is quite a task, since our local roads require a never-ending stream of vehicle maintenance and repair. Our water trucks serve quite a large area with water loads from a well located about 45 minutes away.

Lemuel Trivia: G is Lemuel's first ever female security guard!

DDL's leadership staff meets together regularly to discuss how things are going and to develop plans and strategies.

Of course, tackling water scarcity is one of the major projects our development department is constantly working on. The two water holes above are the huge community water holes that we enlarge and deepen at every opportunity. For those you who remember and participated in the Tractor Project, the impact of the "Tractor" (aka, backhoe loader) in the water holes has been colossal.

The picture below shows almost the entire spread of one of the reservoirs. If you look closely, you can see Maya the yellow lab for scale...