Generous problems

An example of the problems arising from generosity –

My Godmother sent me over a vast array of school supplies – pencils, sharpeners, colored paper etc. I gave most of it to the school and showed the teachers where they would be able to access them in the store room, which was currently storing nothing more than moldy textbooks. I told the teachers that if anybody wanted to use the resources they should help themselves. I sadly felt the need to add condescendingly that I would be watching how the materials were treated and used, and if they were effectively used in lessons and taken care of I would try and get more donations. And if they weren’t used or were lost or damaged quickly then I would not be seeking to add more supplies. Patronizing shit that I am.

Last week I found one of my teachers selling pencils that I had donated to the students. I confronted him. His argument was that he was selling them because otherwise the kids will not care about the pencils and will throw them away. An appealing capitalist argument but flawed. I pointed out that as a teacher you don’t have to give the kids the pencils to keep, you could loan them to your students. Give the pencils to kids that don’t have any in class and then collect them back at the end of the lesson thus ensuring that everyone in every class has the ability to write. He was clearly bulshitting me and his selling of the pencils was completely motivated by filling his wallet.

Again I must stress that I write to vent my frustrations. I cannot generalise about Gambians, but I feel I should say that I have met some of the hardest working and most moral people in my life here, whilst I have also redefined my conceptions of what a lazy person is and encountered people possessing a moral ambiguity like I’ve never known. In truth I cannot generalise about Gambian people as I cannot generalise about any people. People are confounding and complicated wherever you are.

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