Elephant and Mouse were best friends. One day Elephant said, “Mouse, let’s have a party!” Animals gathered from far and near. They ate. They dr
ank. They sang. And they danced. And nobody celebrated more and danced harder than Elephant. After the party was over, Elephant exclaimed, “Mouse, did you ever go to a better party? What a blast!” But Mouse did not answer. “Mouse, where are you?” Elephant called. He looked around for his friend, and then shrank back in horror. There at Elephant’s feet lay Mouse. His little body was ground into the dirt. He had been smashed by the big feet of his exuberant friend, Elephant. “Sometimes, that is what it is like to do mission with you Americans,” the African storyteller commented. “It is like dancing with an Elephant.”
This is an extract from the book When Helping Hurts by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert. After recently reading this book I realised that many times last year I have acted like Elephant in the story. I have hurt when I have tried to help.
This book has challenged my thinking about poverty, poverty alleviation and how to help others without hurting them, or yourself for that matter. I have learnt a lot, been challenged about a lot, and improved my understanding about these complicated issues. If you want to help anyone in any country, I implore you to read this book! Although it’s written by Americans and possibly has an American slant, anyone in any country (western and third world) could benefit greatly from it.
Now the challenge really begins: how to put these thoughts into actions…