You know you’re not in the states when…
Living in Burkina Faso (West Africa) you see some pretty crazy things – well, at least according to what I was used to. For example, I’ve seen ALL of the following (and more):
- A guy carrying a glass window on his motorbike – this was like an industrial-size window!
- A guy with motorbike full of eggs – like, right between his legs, probably over 700 eggs on a little 110cc bike!
- A man carting a motorbike full of chickens – dead, tied and hanging from their feet; probably a good 100 chickens
- A man on a motorbike with goats…yes, they were alive, just hanging on as they drive to their destination.
- Women bent over sweeping up fallen tree branches and leaves to gather for a fire
- Children as little as our two year olds selling wares to help the family – Kids there are WAY smaller than my daughter, who is 3, but they think she’s 6.
- Men and women chewing on a stick because as it frays they can use it as a toothbrush.
As I reflect back on my experience in Ouagadougou over the past ten months, I realized something. If the locals need to do something, like make a living for their family, they will do it. And, they will do it with the means they have.
We, as Americans (in general), seem to have lost that understanding:
Things don’t make a better man.
Instead, we’ve fallen into this trap:
- Don’t have the best car, go finance it.
- Want the best house, go finance it.
- Need (I use this term loosely) to have the best phone, go finance it.
- Don’t have the best XYZ, go finance it.
We have become a consumeristic society that no longer seems to value people over things. To quote the best principal I ever worked for,
“Love people, like things; not the other way around.”
But what we’ve truly forgotten is that we were once one nation under God. And, He does not value materialistic things. Neither do most people living in third world countries. Now, let me tell you, it’s those poor people from those places that are the happiest that I’ve ever seen! I’m talking about genuine happiness. We witnessed the exact same thing in Colombia.
Just to prove my current point – We wanted to treat our house help with something from the States. So, we asked our maid and nanny what we could bring them back from the States over summer break. And do you know what they asked for? You’ll never guess…
Crunchy peanut butter is what will make them happy.
That’s it. Out of everything they could have asked for!
If the roles were reversed, what would you have asked for? This is a loaded question, because unlike them, who have a pretty decent idea of how we live, you have no idea about how they live. Most do not have running water or electricity, and make less than $500 a month. How happy would you be in that situation?
Your Challenge: Get rid of superfluous STUFF. If you haven’t used it in the past, eh, I’ll give you six months to get rid of it.
As always, I would love to hear your thoughts below.
P.S. I didn’t even touch on the ridiculousness of HUGE kids’ birthday extravaganzas, taking out loans to go on vacation, etc…
P.P.S. If you missed it, check out this post to find out if you’re cut out for international life.
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