Monday, January 27, 2014

African life

In the area under the house, the kitchen fire
is open and unshielded.  The preparation
area is a small table off to the side.
The kitchen area overflows with the
family crowd ...  everybody pitches in.
I get kid duty, usually.  Sometimes, I
make the salad.
This family's laundry area is just outside the door.
Usually, folks have to walk to the river.

Curious what a typical kitchen looks like?  Or a typical laundry area?

Welcomed into an African family, we spent Saturday together.  Shopping in the marketplace, cooking over the charcoal fire, and sharing a meal together.

The kids took all these pictures, by the way.  They meet me joyfully and run off with a camera to photograph everything; thousands of pictures over the years of our relationship.

Kids take turns with the camera, posing for each other.

They bring the camera back and excitedly show me what they've captured.  I'll print the non-blurry ones and deliver them next time I'm in country.

These are the fortunate in their world.  They have a home and family, the kids are in school, most of them.  Some family members buy produce in the countryside and sell it in the city marketplace.  And they have water at their home, just steps from the door.  They don't have to spend hours each day carrying water like most folks do.

This is the real world, of course.  Around 80% of the world looks something like this.  They work harder than I, long hours and difficult tasks, every day.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Golden Years

This is real life in the real world for most everybody.

Got fun plans?  A little travel perhaps; a warm place where you can enjoy some days off?  Of course.

   50% of the world never thinks about the things that occupy our days.

  • They don't make a list for when they go to the grocery store.
  • They don't wonder when the car insurance is due.
  • They don't wonder where their kids will go to college.
  • They don't worry about their IRA or 401k.
  • They couldn't care less about a Coach purse or a Gucci blouse.
  • Traffic doesn't make them crabby on the way home from shopping.
  • They don't look forward to vacations.

No stores, no cars, no college, no vacations, ... and no golden years.

Being rich or poor isn't a statement of motivation or willingness to work.  We're not well off because we worked and succeeded while they loafed.  It isn't because we have more natural resources or smarter people.  We don't and we're not, but the difference persists.  Curious isn't it?

Poverty isn't something you choose.  It's something that's done to you and to your family or clan or race or class.  True?

I met one young man in eastern Africa; bright, well-mannered and quite well spoken.  We've worked for a few years on his education and helping his family get healthy.  His biggest obstacle?  Wrong tribe.  He's Mijikenda. There's not a lot of opportunity for him.  If he was Kikuyu however, doors would open automatically.

School kids in eastern Africa celebrate Children's Day in early June. They're a little
surprised to hear that we don't do the same.  For these, making it past the 6th grade
 is a big deal.  Many do not. The costs are more than many families can afford.
Jesus made a big deal about caring for the poor, the disenfranchised.  It's not because they're pitiable and make us sad with their suffering; at least that's not my take on his teachings.  I think it's because they're the same as us, and it's just not right. He sees us all as pretty much the same, and he knows how screwed up we'll be if we just leave them beside the road.

When we look forward to our vacation or our new home or our ... golden years, that's not the real world, is it.  So, what do we do with what we know?  Change makers and help bringers, they have more fun and they live in the real world.

Feel like sharing a bit of the opportunity and resources you have?  :)