These days proverbs tend to have a much deeper meaning than intended and as time goes by intrinsic thought patterns lay with a plethora of philosophical ideologies that keep adding layers to it, at times deviating from the intended use or fishing out a much deeper meaning.
“If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. If you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.”
This proverb is a wonderful way to showcase that sharing knowledge leads to a positive social, economic and psychological change but as the future beckons, if not monitored and utilised in moderation, its vicious fangs are laid bare.
Give a man palm oil and he may ask again, teach him to grow palm oil and he will destroy entire ecosystems. Give a man drugs and so on. Lines need to be drawn in differentiating between moderation and excess because, for many, there are none.
Let’s stay with the proverb. Teach a man how to fish and he not only feeds himself but also his family. Neighbours and the surrounding people intrigued by the discovery join in and slowly there are many. Many become trawlers, fishing boats, and industrial fisheries without a thought for the source.
For me. I make Goat milk soaps and many local villages wanted to learn about it and approached me to teach them to which I firmly said ‘NO’. “But, I thought you were here to help farmers, SHG’s, and women to create livelihood opportunities!” My answer was, “Yes I am, but in a sustainable way where we do not tread on each other’s toes and everyone in my village meets our goals”. After watching our small village make small strides, local authorities wanted to replicate it and I sat on the sidelines watching. Funding was received but lo and behold after a few days of training, the unit had to close down because there was no marketing nor any proper outreach programs, also other shg’s tried their hand, and those that were successfully stayed open for only a few days till all steam ran out. The remoteness of the place of work and education levels of the women didn’t allow them to move to the next level. Remember, pictures were taken but no monitoring or review was done.
Questions such as Who are we teaching to fish? How are we teaching them to fish? Where are we teaching them to fish? How will future generations gain? Are we leaving anything for them? Is the fishing sustainable? What are we teaching them to fish? who are the various stakeholders? Yes, the questions are endless but if not asked, how do we move forward as a nation and community?
I would like to make a small addition to the proverb
“If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. If you teach a man to sustainably fish, you feed him and his future generations for their lifetime.”