African Poor

You can't spend half the summer in Africa and not come back changed by the experience.  I've been examining my lifestyle and feel so blessed, but on the other hand, I can't believe how superficial life can be when you have all your needs being met.  I look at our overstuffed closets and cabinets and know that there was a time we could have made better decisions.  We really don't need a lot of it. I don't need so much stuff.  I can make changes for the better.

There is poverty in America, and I once considered myself among them growing up in a single family home where my mom worked two jobs so that we had food to eat and a warm house in winter.  There were always glitches, like when the plumbing had a leak and we used the outdoor garden hose to shower for a summer. We had rats and sometimes my brothers would shoot them with a bb gun.  I can remember many times taking crackers with jam for a school lunch.  I was always happy for hand-me-down clothing from relatives (sometimes it is good to be the youngest).  I was lucky that by joining the Air Force, I could go to college and know that my future family would always have enough to eat and a place to live.

African Poor is something totally different.  Rural homes are made of mud and sticks.  Homelessness means no help at all.  You have to sleep on the streets or under a tree.  Any money you get is from the goodness of strangers.  There isn't a welfare system or social security in most countries. Drought kills people.  Starvation is real.  Too many people live hand to mouth, which is more distressing than our paycheck to paycheck. Kids have health concerns.  Flies are everywhere.  Not everyone is poor.  My husband was lucky enough to grow up in a household with plenty, but then the civil war came and an entire country became refugees.  You can see how that's working out with Syrians now.  America is part of a campaign spending 9 million per day on bombing Iraq and Syria. Imagine the good we could be doing with that money.  

I'm trying to find a way to balance my life here in the US and still find help for those I met on our African journey.  It's impossible to help everyone.  The needs are too great.  I'm writing daily to several Ethiopian young men.  One is in middle school and needed a new place to live because the roof was leaking and his landlord would beat him if he couldn't make enough money shining shoes or carrying bags.  Just $100 allowed him to find a new place and purchase a little stove so he can cook cabbage with his friend.  He is always happy and grateful.  Another is hoping to go to college but the expenses of a room and food aren't covered.  Our tour guide is supporting orphans with the money he makes, but needs a vehicle so he can expand his business to bring tourists to outlying places and not just walk within the village. I set up a funding campaign where you and your friends can donate to help make this happen.  I hope you'll take a look and give generously if you can.  I found that if I gave up buying new clothing and fancy coffee drinks, I would have enough to share.  There's something about sharing with someone on the other side of the world that makes me feel better than any stuff I might buy.  Maybe you'll feel the same.


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