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Take the Gift of My Child and Return Something to Me: On Children, Chagga Trust, and a New American Evangelical Orphanage on Mount Kilimanjaro

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AbstractThis essay examines local and international Christian efforts on Mount Kilimanjaro to educate children. A prevailing idea among people who live on the mountain is that children engender trust and trade. This idea is illuminated through the adage ‘Take the gift of my child and return something to me’ and is embedded in the concept of Chagga trust. The latter is both an ethical mode and a social entity. Local ideas of children and trust partly overlap with but also differ from American evangelical missionaries’ views of children as needing to be safeguarded. Analysis of differences reveals that while religious missions have long played a role in providing education, the dynamics of privatization have changed the manner in which local leaders and international missionaries interact. Previous interactions were regular and routine; today’s are fewer, more contractual, and more formalized. The analysis presented here broadens and qualifies existing research that simply states that evangelicalism and the privatization of education helps the poor.


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