• You yourself can do more than you know, right where you are.
Sometimes when we wait for someone else to act, including governments, it can become an excuse for doing nothing ourselves. Perhaps it is a fault I have, I don’t know, but whenever I see a problem, the first thing I think of is: “How can I (personally) do something, no matter how small, to help on this issue?”
In my own mind, I am really the small boy in the Bible story who offered Jesus Christ his lunch of five loaves and two fishes to feed 5,000 people! To those looking on, it may have seemed hopeless or even silly, but it opened the door to a miracle. What about you? I myself find it very difficult to rail at someone else to do something about a problem that I see, unless I’m ready to offer a solution myself, or be part of the solution.
I remember arriving at my grandparents' village after returning from nearly 20 years of exile. The road to their homestead was difficult to navigate. “Why is this little road so bad?” I asked my uncle who drove that way regularly himself.
He then railed at the local MP, saying he was lazy and never raised issues in parliament.
“But it is less than a kilometer long, and you and I are the only people who drive this way," I said. The next weekend I returned, hired a few guys and fixed it, maybe because I did not want my car damaged! There are so many problems in Africa that it can be really overwhelming sometimes, but I will never forget the words of my grandmother, also when I returned to my homeland from exile: “Our problems are over, because those whom we sent to school are back!”
We are not educated simply to be like football fans in a stadium (or, shall I say, “coaches from the stands") or as the Americans say "armchair quarterbacks."
Since this is one of my “reflections,” let me share another of my favorite spiritual dictums: “If you cannot be faithful with solving just a small problem, why should you be given a bigger challenge?”
All too often, we dream of being given a bigger challenge when we will not be counted in the crafting of small solutions for problems we face every day.
By now you will have noticed that I rarely respond to someone on this platform who identifies a problem, and then suggests that I be the one to solve it. I will only join people who are solving problems themselves.
Not long ago, a young Zambian lady wrote here about how she was helping a young disabled boy. She never asked me for help, but I was amazed by her approach. I quietly reached out to her, and formed a small partnership with her.
Another person came to me to say there were no vaccines in a village because they could not store them properly.
“What is your solution?” I asked.
“Can we put a fridge at a nearby base station, since it has power all the time?”
We've now done it for more than 10 years, and that's not the only place. The miracle comes when we approach problems like the boy with the lunch who thought he could help feed 5,000. There is a reason you keep thinking about that problem that no one else seems to notice, or care about like you do: It is because it is you who is marked to solve it, if only you will believe in yourself, instead of waiting for others.
Today is the day to begin to solve some problems. If you can get others to join you, even better, but be prepared to go it alone, because you can.
Sometimes the solution starts by redefining what the problem really is...