Economics Abroad

February 08, 2017 at 6:00 AM

Pierre-and-Hamade.jpgPierre (left), serves as a translator for Burkina Faso ministry director Hamade Ouedraogo during a recent trip.                     (Photo by Dan Breen)

Economics Abroad

By Dr. Greg Kuiper

A few weeks ago while traveling in Burkina Faso in Africa, I gained a deeper appreciation for having a job.

On arrival, I met Pierre, who had taken the unusual step of quitting his job as a secondary school teacher.

I found it unusual because this young man has a wife and two children for which to provide. In a country where a full-time job is difficult to find, I couldn’t imagine doing what he did.

Pierre told me he had decided to raise chickens and guinea fowl instead of teaching. His reasoning was that the economy in Burkina Faso had deteriorated. He never knew if or when he was going to receive his government paycheck at the public school where he taught French and English language courses.

He informed me that his April salary was finally paid to him in September. He still has no guarantee if he will ever be paid for his other months of service last year.

So Pierre decided to take a more active role in providing for his family. He purchased seven hens and one rooster and now has a flock of 100 chickens with a goal of increasing this to 1000. He recognizes that people will always need to eat, and his business will provide a more dependable income for his family.

The situation is worse in some developing countries in the world. I have learned of workers who continue to work at a job, knowing they will never be paid. They continue to work because they have hope that economic conditions will improve and perhaps they will be awarded a paid position in the future.

To leave one’s job in countries where unemployment exceeds 70% would mean that a worker would join the masses who have no hope of ever getting a job with a salary. Leaving a nonpaying job would essentially mean trading an unfair situation for a hopeless situation.

I tried to imagine what it would feel like to have a better-than-average education; to have a job in the field for which I was trained; to do my job; and then not be paid for doing it.

Our sense of fairness wouldn’t tolerate this kind of situation for long.

It is usually the case that when we compare our circumstances with people around the world, we recognize the blessings and opportunities we have been given that others can only dream about. Not only do we receive a regular paycheck, but we might even receive additional benefits such as vacation days, health-care coverage or even a contribution to a retirement plan.

So “Thank you Lord” for my job, and help me to work at it with all my heart, because I’m working for you. (Colossians 3:23)

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