Thursday, January 27, 2011

Lending a hand

We got an update from Africa on our friends.  They were in a tough place after dad's traffic accident.  Medical bills and no resources had left them struggling to survive in spite of the fact that they are good, hardworking folks.  Introduced by a mutual friend, they graciously let us lend a hand.  It's been a tough year, but they are courageously moving ahead, and we get to be a small part of their effort.
The picture here is the family's Christmas pose; typically formal, only the younger daughter smiles, but the family is together, healthy, and happy, which we all get to share.  What a joy.  Read more of their story HERE  They're great folks.

But do we have to go to Africa to lend a hand?  Is there maybe a similar family just down the street that could use a friend?

Nobility and Poverty

A close tie exists between my friends in
São Tomé and Príncipe and the nearby country of Cabo Verde (Cape Verde).  In the years following independence in 1975, circumstances and economics moved folks around a bit with a mixing of the two populations resulting in family and cultural ties.  Both were Portuguese colonies and busy trading centers for African slaves.  The horror of the slavery era left a difficult legacy.

Unemployment is 20+%, and around 30% of folks live in severe poverty.

This young lady (photo, left) is a street vendor in Cape Verde.

With a population of 500,000 or so, Cape Verde is the larger of the two countries, but they have much in common both in history and in current circumstance.  They share a common poverty, but fortunately, they share a common grace and nobility as they labor to rise above the slavery and colonial impediments of their past.  A lot of really fine folks live in both of these little countries, folks you'd enjoy knowing, living next door to, and having your kids walk to school with theirs.

Want to see the world from a different viewpoint?  Go see for yourself.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Djibouti in January

So what are you supposed to do?  A little girl asked if she could watch our car while we ate lunch.  It's a bit of a scam, of course, but it's an honest attempt to survive.  She couldn't have been more than seven or eight.

So we ate lunch at a Chinese place; sat and talked business for about an hour.  When we came out, our little security guard was there with a smile and a little hand held out.  Her mom and little brother were there, too.  Homeless.  I gave the kid about $12 which is huge, considering.  Without even looking to see what I'd given them, both she and her mom asked for more.  I gave it to them.  They're living on the street, trying to survive.  What am I supposed to do, God?

I sort of understand the kid or her mom.  My discomfort is not their fault.  Their story will be like so many others.  I'm angry, though, that I'm staying in a luxurious hotel with hot and cold running attendants, and three blocks away, this precious mother and her children can barely feed themselves.  It hurts to know.  I'll go by that block again tomorrow.  I hope they're there, and I hope they're not.  If they are, I'll stop.  But what can I do?  This lady and her kids are just like us.