I am afraid that through these words I may widen a gap. But what I want them to do is to make it smaller. I am sorry if I do this carelessly. I learn along the way.
I was brought up in such a way that I do not divide people according to the color of their skin. That the fact of this division surprises me every time I can see it. I don’t remember my parents explaining to me about equality of people even once. No books with children around the world and learning that through stories. They had to do it without words.
I don’t like taking pictures of strangers. Or those friends just a little. I don’t like taking them to those I meet in Mozambique and who we help. And definitely more I do not like to post them on my social media without permission. But, I don’t like to ask for permission either. Especially in Mozambique. For as long as another white (majority) tells me what he/she really thinks, the agreement here will be the result of inequality. Not the one that is the truth, but the one that is real in the minds here. And which makes me very sad.
One, because it’s hard to say no. As a white asks, you usually answer the way to please him/her. To get what he/she has for you. Because he/she has a lot of money and things that you don’t have. That’s why it can happen that when a white asks if you want to give your life to Jesus, you would answer yes. Without giving your life to Him.
Two, you don’t want to say no. Because it is prestigious. Because to have a photo with a white mens prestige. Even if you never see the picture. And your face on the screens will touch the hearts of other whites and gather likes. Even if you never hear about it. Even if you never get anything from it. Besides the illusory prestige.
That’s why I don’t like taking pictures of local people. And that’s why I didn’t show the photos from the last food distribution in Pemba. I couldn’t look at them myself. We currently live in a different city than where we build houses and bring food to internally displaced families. There are trusted persons who do this. I always emphasize not to take photos of people we help with their faces seen. But this time there was even more than a face. Next to sacks of rice, beans and bottles of oil, the families stood. One next to the other. In the photos you can see how they stand there, obedient. Sad, with their heads down. Ready for anything, as long as this food will surely stay with them. How I wish it hadn’t happened.
Let this story be a picture. No photos. When last time we visited these families, I asked if I could pray for one girl who has Down’s syndrome. The girl was crying and I didn’t know at the beginning why because of the double translation. When she stood in front of me, I was smiling at her because I had already seen her as God sees her. (Oh, thanks Holy Spirit!) I asked if I could hold her hand. She was crying even more. Then, a few people tried to grab her hand by force to give it to me. But then, without unnecessary translations, I stopped them. It was at that moment that I found out that from the beginning she was afraid to come to me. She was afraid that this white person wanted to do something bad to her. And she knows it’s very possible because she is different. Different from the others. Because these “others” let her know about it every day.
When I didn’t force her to hold my hand, she calmed down. I started praying for her and saying the good things God thinks about her. Later I gave her a cookie. I never do this in Mozambique. I don’t give a cookie to one child while thirty others are watching. I do not give cookies to children at all, if it is not organized in advance, thought out. If there is no consent from their parents. This time I only gave her a cookie because it was her moment. This was the moment when she was supposed to know that God was seeing her.
When in Mozambique a white asks if he/she can hold a child’s hand, it is possible that the adults around will give him/her this hand by force.
That’s why I don’t like to take pictures. For this inequality that is not the truth but is real in the minds of many here.
For balance. It happens to me that people say no to praying for them for example. That my skin is not impressive to them. And that’s very good. Someday, when I go back to them and ask again and they agree, I’ll know it’s authentic.
You will probably find a few exceptions on this profile, for which I have my subjective justification. For example, the background photo which is a symbol. The more I look at mama A., the more I see her beauty. Beauty of human, woman, grandmother, mother, Mozambican. When I was taking pictures of her that day, I knew that this one was about something more than just herself. It is about a woman God has planned and has placed in Mozambique. About a woman who is as she is with all her experience and about a woman who discovers who she is in Christ. One day before I wrote these words, I met her somewhere in the field. She called: Ania, Ania. I couldn’t find a figure in the strong late sun. Like in the movie, the eyes tried to focus on the shape of the body. Until I saw her. She was standing in the tall grass, with a machete in her hand and a blade of it resting on her shoulder. There were several large branches on the ground. She was smiling as if it didn’t cost her anything.