We had an interesting conversation with some Chinese friends at lunch today. We talked about which was the more culturally-sensitive/appropriate way to help local people. To give a poor person assistance without being asked? (i.e. - a gift of money or a load of coal) Or to give only in response to a stated need and a request for help?
The response? There was some disagreement, since the friends hailed from various parts of China where local culture varies somewhat, but the general consensus for our village's culture was this... Giving a gift without being asked would cause the person to "loose face." They would feel like you looked down upon them and pitied them because they were poor. So that isn't the best option. But, unfortunately, everyone also agreed that no one would ever actually ask for help. They're too proud. Each of our friends could name several people that could really use the help, but they won't accept it or ask for it.
So it seems we have an unsolvable problem.
Except it isn't.
Everyone was in agreement about one thing... if you could give someone a job and let them earn their way, there is no loss of face and they will always accept the work. It meets their needs with dignity and compassion.
Hearing that -- which we suspected all along, just from our observations about this village the last few years -- reinvigorates us and confirms our mission. Launching the Scarlet Threads boutique has been a lot of work, and we have a long ways to go, but it has such a potential for life transformation. We're excited!
Can you get excited too?
Maybe a giveaway will help...
We are going to give away one Phoebe apron, to be shipped from the USA to the winner on November 20, 2009. You might even have it in time to prepare your Thanksgiving turkey.
Here's how to enter... you get one entry for each thing that you do. If you've already done some of these things, go ahead and enter the giveaway... Simply leave a comment listing the ways you've entered!
1) Sign up as a follower of the Scarlet Threads blog.
2) Put the Scarlet Threads button on your blog or website.
3) Write a blog post about Scarlet Threads and link to our website and/or to this giveaway.
4) Update your Facebook status, and link to Scarlet Threads and/or this giveaway!
5) Twitter about the giveaway.
6) Tell some real life friends about Scarlet Threads. (I'll trust you on this.)
The winner will be selected and posted on Nov. 19. If you want to be notified via email if you win, please include your email address in your comment, or send it to me at email@example.com.
Let the giveaway begin!