Fred walked over the bridge looking at the water rushing beneath him. He wondered how many thousands of acres of productive farmland was being washed away. How many parents’ dreams of better life for their children were passing beneath him. He loved his job, but it never stopped breaking his heart.
As he reached the other side, he walked up what remained of the road. He smiled, gave high-fives, and greeted the group of children who gathered around him as he walked. The children took him to some of the community leaders. Fred sat with them listening to their stories of how the floods were affecting them. Stories of loss, but also stories of hope and how the community was trying to help each other.
Fred explained a little about his organisation, how they might be able to help, and his own role and story. And then Fred asked if it was ok if he took a few notes and asked a few specific questions. reached into his backpack pulling out a tablet. He also felt a bit weird doing this as he knew the tablet cost more than most of the farmers made in a year. And yet, he also knew it made his job easier and his organisation faster.
The first page of his survey reminded him he needed to get consent from the people he was talking to. In fact there were boxes he was supposed to get ticked by the person he was talking with. Fred hated this part. He took a deep breath and tried to explain what would happen with the information he was asking about. Of course they were going to say it was ok, they needed assistance and they knew this was part of the process to get it. It’s not like they had other options.
And then one of the younger community leaders spoke up. “We are grateful you came to our village and are willing to help. And of course we are ok with you using our information as we need your help. However, is there a way you can give the information you collect about each family to them so they can have a copy of it? They might be able to use it in other parts of their lives. And there might be others like you who come asking the same questions and it would be nice to be able to give it to them without needing to answer the questions again. Could you do this for us?”
Fred was stunned. Looking directly into the eyes of the leader, he said. “Sadly no, I can’t. But it is an excellent idea and will try to figure it out.”