Poverty, Gratitude, Compassion
Writing this now makes me feel like I am an ingrate. I have sometimes felt that my family is poor. I would ask my father or mother to buy something for me and often they would go for the cheaper and more economic option. I would compare my possessions such as clothes with those of my friends and feel bad because I do not get the latest fashion like my friends. I come to the realisation that the more we focus our energy on things that are less important in life, the less we see the good life we have. Because we fail to see how fortunate our lives are by focusing on things that are less important, we fail to show appreciation for the kind of lives we live.
The documentary, “Zimbabwe’s Forgotten Children” we watched during one of our Margin sessions on Poverty opened my eyes to see the people on the other side of society. We watched how Obed hustled in life by panning gold to get money for his school fees. And for Esther, she could not even consider an education for herself because she had to take care of her little sister and cope with her mother who was sick with HIV/AIDS. I have often thought of the many children who, like Obed, are out there struggling, on a daily basis, to either get food to eat or some money for their school fees. I also think of the many other children, who, like Esther, have to care for their younger siblings and become breadwinners at tender ages and do not have the opportunity for basic formal education. I asked myself: How many times have my parents left me hungry until I cried for food? How many times have I been sent away from school for not paying fees? How many times have I slept under a make-shift shed? The answer to all these questions is NEVER. My parents have shielded me from the ugly side of life and have provided me with all that I need.
We tend to be excited about people and things we feel are in our class in society. In doing so, we often neglect things that are more important and dearer in life. We attach importance to frivolous things and spend so much time on things like keeping long nails and long hair, etc. while neglecting the humane aspect of life such treating others fairly and being compassionate to others. We even feel compassion for and cry over fictional characters in movies created for our entertainment as far as they are in line with our thoughts. I still recall vividly how most of the students who watched the movie, “Five Feet Apart” cried over the two fictional characters, Stella Grant and Will Newman, who were both in love and suffered from cystic fibrosis. And I asked myself, if our hearts could move in compassion for fictional characters created to entertain us, how come for many of us our hearts are not moved to the point that we could cry over the lives of real people in challenging conditions shown to us during the Margin? In fact, during the Margin, some of us would rather engage in side talks totally unconnected with the videoclips being shown and the ongoing discussion!
We can learn a lot from the Margin, if we truly pay attention to its lessons. We can learn to be grateful for the opportunities we have and to the people who made them possible. We can be more compassionate to those in need if we give our time to the programme. We can also be more committed in our studies since through them we hope to be better leaders who would change the face of the world for good.