After recently returning from my first trip to the African country of Uganda, I once again found myself considering new perspectives on various things. These are gifts that always accompany me back home when I’m willing to leave my comfort zone in search of new experiences. In fact, I think it’s impossible to avoid…
I’ve been in numerous, Third World countries over the years and they all offer that first stark awareness in their own flavors of how different many if not the majority of people on this earth live compared to those of us in more “civilized”, modern societies. Regardless of our own personal perceptions of what defines this, the truth of it always lies somewhere in the middle. It knows its own source. Such is the case with the definition many of us have regarding the word “poverty”. In our American society, we view it as a “lack of”… newer, material things… money… nice housing… cars… the latest clothing… technology… The list goes on & on.
What I saw as I began to acclimate to my unfamiliar surroundings & to interact with many wonderful people there I met was something quite different however. I saw “communities”… the kind where people mingle or greet each other as they pass on the streets or in the shops on a daily basis. They stop to chat… interact… face-to-face. They know whose sick, whose getting married, who just had a baby and the other little things that go on in the day-to-day lives of their fellow villagers because they’re connected. The children, of whom there is definitely no shortage, are allowed the opportunity to do what they’re meant to do best… simply be kids. Down to the toddlers, using their imaginations, they play amid the hustle and bustle of typical, daily life, all the while taking in their own lessons along the way.
Don’t get me wrong… life there is harsh… very harsh compared to what I’m used to. This especially holds true for the women there who have little or no equal rights but are responsible for a great deal of the workload, exacerbated by antiquated, long-running, cultural beliefs & the lack of modern conveniences like dishwashers, stoves, washers and dryers, running water, flushing toilets, readily affordable, store-bought food and supplies, etc. But we humans become accustomed to what we have always known so we tend to create the quality in our lives in other ways which goes a long way in making life more bearable.
I also saw with great clarity & experiential taste, when a community grows its own food and remains industrious by creating ways to use readily available resources instead of depending on big corporations and other countries to supply it for them; it empowers them with their independence. Eating non-processed, organic veggies, fruit and meat… homegrown… antibiotic & growth-hormone-free… non-genetically modified in defiance of Mother Nature… allowed me to taste for myself how food is supposed to taste despite what we’ve grown accustomed to expecting for so long in this country. I ate heartily, enjoying good food, felt better and actually lost weight in the process. We’ve been asleep for far too long and we’ve forgotten what it feels like to simply feel good & satisfied… to have energy… to not have gluten
allergies, bloating & digestive issues. We blame it on a myriad of various things when so much of it can actually be attributed to the old tried and true “garbage in… garbage out” concept.
Maybe we’ve actually created our own ‘poverty” in our healthy food sources, community connectedness (think our infamous “Seattle-freeze”) & over-scheduling of our children in an effort to push them ahead more and more quickly instead of allowing them the gift of their own creativity and exploration as the children they are… you know, that space where great, new ideas eventually come from!
Every culture has poverty and abundance on some level. They vary by virtue of place but all are valuable and therein lies the lesson.
GET CURIOUS… REMEMBER…..