Today was a great day, but I had a hard talk with one of the students named Milson. Milson is 21. Since we only have the five computers and we were working in Paint, I offered for him to use Deb’s computer which has Paint installed. I sat him at our desk and pulled out Deb’s wireless mouse for him to use.
He looked at the wireless mouse in awe, gasped, then said “That’s another thing that a Malagasy could never do”. I asked what he meant. He explained that in his mind he knows that no Malagasy would ever be able to invent something so complex as a wireless mouse. I tried to explain to him how it was invented. That someone (or a team) invented it. That most likely they went to engineering school to learn how to invent it and that education is the way people learn to do things. He told me how as a Malagasy young boy he could never have the opportunity of education, so how could he invent anything? Johnson our translator walked over to the table. He said that there aren’t many universities, and that anyway it would just be way too expensive. I asked, “How much”? He said $50,000 ariary per semester. $50,000 ariary is $25.00! $25.00 is too expensive for most Malagasy.
The conversation got even harder. “Why”? he asked......”Why does God not bless the Malagasy but he blesses foreigners”? How could I reply? I said the usual speech about how we foreigners may have material things and look happy but that many people aren’t happy even if they have money. I also told him (and I meant it) how from my observation the Malagasy understand the important things in life; love, family, community and are genuinely happy. I told him how we could learn a lot from them. He said yes but asked: “What about the foreigners who have money and are also genuinely happy? Hmmmm how do I reply to that one? I wasn’t about to say life’s not fair, or explain how the Malagasy could have money if their government wasn’t so corrupt.
I just thanked him for the gift of letting me teach him and the others. I told him I have lots of questions too. Don’t we all.