Because we are immersed in the project, we worry about losing sight of the big picture — the forest-for-the-trees dilemma.
Change, even so called progress can be harmful. Likely, we will be changing centuries of customs. With a well and a self-sustaining economy and a school, we will be helping the people of Dédékè to interact more with the greater world around them. No longer will they have a relatively isolated existence, nor a subsistence economy. This may change some of their culture.
By schooling the children, we will (most likely) be encouraging the children to further educate themselves and perhaps leave the village. As the song asks: How you gonna keep ’em down on the farm after they’ve seen Paris? And what happens to a village that loses its most ambitious and adventurous young adults?
The answer to this is: we are not parents or patriarchs. We are not magical fairy godmothers who know best and grant wishes.
The people of Dédékè want this change. They are adults who know their own culture best. They have an aquaintence with 21st century change in Africa and what it implies. We are providers as per their requests. We are not parents of backward children.
They are different, but they are our equals. In the case of self-determination and village choices, we are the ones who are subordinate to their wishes. We do not get to dictate terms.
So what next? On optimistic days we can look on this as our training ground. Next we find another village. Perhaps we train others to build schools. Perhaps we get apprentices (grad students etc.) to work with us to multiply our effect.
On less optimistic days, when we can’t seem to raise one penny, or it seems like we are talking into the wind, we just have to push forward and keep working. This is something we are committed to wholeheartedly.