Breaking Dependence….with Dignity
“What is a Pisces?” I remember David Zijjan asking me innocently many, many years ago. My housemate at the time thought this was so hilarious that he still sometimes randomly tags me in a post with this sentence. It is only in those small moments that I am reminded of the vast gap there is between my known world and upbringing…and David’s. Because aside from such gaps, we are just two friends, trying our best to make a difference and to be ‘decent’ human beings. Whilst my daily battle to be ‘decent’ often consists of choosing to walk back in my front door to get my reusable grocery bags that I forgot – David’s is an ongoing juggle of parenting his six children (four biological, two fostered) as well as providing housing, food and education to another 36 aids orphans in his village in Jinja, Uganda, through orphan homes.
It has been almost ten years since David’s first trip to Australia, and I find myself having the honour of hosting him again in our home. We may have both aged, but we are still the same friends, perhaps less naive about the world of ‘charity’, but still hopeful.
And for David, that hope has a good foundation. Alongside his wife Sarah, they have been able to witness many forgotten orphans now graduate with not only high school educations, but also diplomas and degrees. Yet this road has not been easy. Amidst that ‘charity’ world lurks all sorts of interesting characters. Egos dressed in good intentions. White saviours with bleeding hearts. The interesting thing about such characters, is that their generosity comes with a cost and that cost normally creates dependence through an unequal distribution of power. Yet thankfully for David and his wife Sarah, their tenacity for dignity and nothing less, has kept them sane and sailing in all the right spaces.
Through initiatives such as sugar cane farming, bus businesses and chicken farms, led by local Ugandans – David and Sarah have kept their not for profit, FDLM, afloat.
Whilst advocating to Australian audiences, it would be easy for David to share the terrible situations of the children he cares for through FDLM, yet he is more passionate about sharing his plans on how to break dependency and create sustainability in his community. It may not be as romantic to provide funds towards a sugarcane farm as opposed to a five year old sponsor child…..but for lasting change to occur, the donor’s understanding around development is due for an adjustment.
Whilst emotion is often the thing that inspires people to give, we are hoping that emotion can marry reason. Perhaps for the five year old sponsor child, the hero they need is not us with our pisces and reuseable shopping bags, but a David and Sarah. A couple who know what it is like to grow up in a village. Who know what it is like to lose their loved ones to aids. Who know what it is like to fight for their own dignity, and that of their nation.
To support their sugar cane farm or chicken project (that in turn funds orphan homes) make a donation via the Jem Donate Page (write ‘FDLM’ in the description).