What encouragement or advice do you have as we seek to do good in places that have systemic obstacles to sustainable development? It seems to me that so much of the opportunities or approaches that are highlighted in the United States have to do with helping an individual or what an individual can do to help. For many projects and needs, this makes sense.
However, for instance, these reports from the New York Times were quite challenging to absorb:
In Honduras, warring gang factions have plunged the country into a state of crisis. Groups like the Mara Salvatrucha — or MS-13 — and the 18th Street Gang, which both originated in the United States, have laid siege to communities. They govern much of daily life for residents living in their areas of control, stand-ins for a corrupt and ineffectual government.
I wanted to capture just how inescapable the violence was — to show readers what it really felt like.
All three had been members of the 18th Street gang, but were sickened by the cadence of murder, extortion and robbery of their neighbors, the people they had known all their lives. Seeking redemption, they kicked the gang out of the neighborhood, vowing never to allow another back in.
Now, they were being hunted — by their former comrades in 18th Street, and by MS-13, which wanted their territory.
And so the young men doubled down for their own protection, transforming back into the thing they hated most: a gang.
These stories bring to mind Proverbs 13:23, “The fallow ground of the poor would yield much food, but it is swept away through injustice.”
What does it look like to seek to do good in a place where any gains or developments will, in all likelihood, be absorbed by a gang or corrupt government officials?