Monday, March 18, 2013

Don't Lose Sight

Author Note: Kees is pronounced Case, rhymes with race.

It’s extremely important that awareness is brought towards the suffering of those less fortunate and to try in every way possible to help those in need.  But it’s easy to confuse the main stream media coverage of hunger crisis with the average African population.  There are 54 countries in Africa and I don’t feel it is one giant continent of fear, misery or suffering. Within the 37 African countries I’ve visited, the majority of people were friendly, hospitable and joked amongst each other.

Honestly, there are parts of their lives that I am jealous of, one of the main things being their huge families and respect for elders. Everyone has a hundred friends in the street, they know their neighbours and trust their community to protect them. Not once have I felt threatened or unsafe walking the streets in the day or at night. I feel less protected with my cellphone and “911” in Europe than I do with all the women and children outside running around, drinking tea, playing board games and sharing meals at night here. Kieta fled his African homeland with the preconceived notion that he was going to “the land of wealth and happiness” but instead found bitter cold; the hospitality and warm friendship he was used to was suddenly gone. Once our houses are built, I don’t doubt for a second that he will be moving back to Africa. 

Traveling has taught me that we do not need all of those materialistic things we think are so important. As long as the essentials are provided, people are more than capable of finding happiness in simplicity. People’s opinions of themselves are often mirrored by what others say and think about them, which is why it’s hard not to compete in a materialistic world. 

Competing with our families to be bigger and better should never happen. We should be helping each other up and standing together; we already have way more than we need. As far as I’m concerned, that is a fact. I know it’s unrealistic to expect people to suddenly downgrade their houses, flush their iPhones and sell their cars, but if there is just one message I can get across it’s to look at what you do have and at least be grateful. Don’t take for granted or lose touch with what is truly important in your life.
It’s impossible to be grateful 24/7 (unless you’re Mom, of course) and I constantly struggle with it, perhaps because I, of all people, should know better. I’m guilty of getting caught up in this circle again and losing sight of what's truly important. This life has been a gift for me and to forget that would be an insult. I strive to be better and try to remember how it is when living a simpler life, especially after a trip like this. 

Savannah Grace



At 7:15 PM , Anonymous Karla said...

I totally agree with you!

People who live a simple life are happier than those who live in the middle of clutter & useless things.

Travel has definitely opened my eyes and taught me that happiness is everywhere and in every person you meet.

What a lesson of humility!

Thank you for reminding me of that & share your experiences in Africa ;)

At 8:00 PM , Anonymous Sheila said...

Loved this post. I agree fully and consciously start and end each day in gratitude with alot of it in between throughout the day. When I have travelled to poorer countries, including parts of Mexico, I am moved by the joy I see in their smiles, even though they lack essentials like shoes & food. The children will hold a book as if it were a chunk of gold. I am envious of their strong family bonds and sense of community. Thank you for sharing your wisdom.

At 2:45 AM , Anonymous Kerri said...

Great post! it is so easy to get caught up in the gam of wanting more and more stuff. Before we left to travel, it was amazing how much stuff we had crammed in our tiny house. A lot of it I had even forgotten that I had. I had some boxes that I moved from one place to the next without even opening. It was so refreshing to just get rid of all that stuff!

I too love seeing the strong sense of family and community as we travel. I marvel at how truly generous and nice people.

At 7:49 PM , Blogger Savannah said...

Thanks guys for all of your support and knowing this small post had some impact really makes it all so worthwhile. Everyone have a great day. And smile 'cause we can :)
Savannah Grace

At 11:56 AM , Anonymous Pola (Jetting Around) said...

Good read. You're absolutely right about simplicity and that all African countries can't and shouldn't be thrown into one basket. And you've been to how many places there?? Impressive. :)

At 6:55 PM , Anonymous kle said...

Everything you said is so true Savannah!
Being just back from Cambodia i can now fully understand your words and i too feel guilty for not being always grateful for what i have. We need to keep our senses sharp and make the effort to stay focused on what's really important!

At 10:18 PM , Anonymous Andy said...

Great post Savannah, some wise words here. It is amazing the perspective that some have on the entire continent. Sure there are some significant problems, but the people are happy and most are very good people. Materials cannot be taken to the grave! Thanks for sharing your journey.


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