A few months ago, my daughter had returned home from sleeping at a friends house singing the praises of name brand shampoo and conditioner and how A-MAZ-ING her hair was feeling after using it. See, we don’t buy name brand shampoo, or conditioner, or well, pretty much any brand name product. And we are usually ok with that – when we chose jobs in the non-profit sector we knew there would be sacrifices (some small, some larger). Except the other day I started feeling sorry for myself, wishing I would dare to splurge for the luxurious hair products – both the shampoo AND conditioner – and then it progressed to maybe even get my hair done professionally? Heck, I even dared to dream further. Armstrong Old Cheddar. Kraft Peanut Butter. Heinz Ketchup. And then I remembered my friends Lilian and Gift that live in a slum called Kibera in Kenya and was hit smack dab in the face with perspective.
My friends who live there could care less about what kind of peanut butter, ketchup or cheese they had. Who needs soap and shampoo when there is nowhere to bathe. And those are just surface things, right? How about a roof over your head? Or relief from fear of violence? Or access to clean water and medical supplies and education and employment? So maybe I should remember that when I am wishing for something I already have.
This isn’t a post intend to bring about a sense of guilt but to remember that word :
I would never have learned about the complexities of poverty until it went from a subject to a relationship. I travelled with Krista to three countries in sub-saharan Africa to learn about “women living in poverty”. But you see, I returned home from a trip about “life in a slum with Lilian and Gift”, “being 12 years old, stolen from your family and auctioned off to one of the Generals in Joseph Kony’s army with Betty” and “raising orphaned child with cerebral palsy with Mama Dudu.”
Have you ever had that happen to you? When a subject or cause all of a sudden becomes a friend, a loved one, a co-worker? When you think you know what you believe and stand for and then you look into the eyes of someone who is or had been living through it and realize it’s not so black and white? It’s terrifying and freeing.
I like feeling secure and confident and knowledgeable. Being in a relationship with people on the margins of society reminds me that I know nothing. And I love it.
If you look around your circles and realize they all look just like you, I would really, really, encourage to seek out that which is the other. Befriend someone from a different religion. Volunteer at an HIV clinic. Visit a retirement home. Cook and serve at a soup kitchen. You won’t have to look far for these opportunities. If you want to go big and be completely wrecked – book a Build trip with Live Different .
You will never be the same and that might be a good thing.
Sarah lives in Northern Ontario with her family and works at Muskoka Woods Sports Resort. Sarah and her husband have four children, and one grandson. She is an avid reader and learner. In 2012, Sarah launched JustOne with Krista and they travelled to Kenya, Uganda and South Africa together. Sarah is still involved with JustOne through her weekly blog posts, and is a constant source of educating Krista and others on the world's needs. Sarah has a blog we love to read called "Recipe for Messiness" that is about finding beauty amidst our messy lives.