Saturday, July 11, 2009

Seeing the world through another's eyes

Our view of life or our perspective has a huge impact on how we feel about life. It affects whether we are happy, satisfied, content or unsatisfied and anxious or worried. It is easy to get so focused and wrapped up in our own circumstances that we only see things from our point of view. Every once in a while we need a good reality check. Seeing life through someone else’s eyes can help put our perspective in check as we recognize that our worries and concerns look quite trivial when compared to others.

A couple of weeks ago I met Jameston. He is one of the students benefitting from a secondary school scholarship program that is part of our orphan care program in Nathenje. As we unpacked his story I became unsettled. I was reminded of the very basic problems that many Malawian struggle with daily and the impact that even a small amount of assistance can make. I know the tough realities of life here, especially life in the village, but each time it is personalized as I stare someone in the face telling me about their life I find myself trying to crawl into their shoes to see the world as they do. I am not sure if I would have the same positive perspective on life as Jameston if I was forced into similar circumstances.

Jameston’s father passed away in 2004. Since that time, he has been the main bread winner in his family. He tries to provide for his mom, and four other siblings as well as go to school. He works odd jobs such as helping others prepare their fields for planting, weeding, digging as well as harvesting. This seasonal work only helps for part of the year. The government assists one of his brothers with school fees, but an over stretched government is only able to help one child per family. In January of this year Jameston had to drop out of school because he could not find money enough to both assist the family and pay school fees. This is where our program came in. Jameston was happy as he told us that now that his school fees are covered and he has a uniform, shoes and notebooks his worries are much less. He just has to look for money to help the family eat.

It is humbling to talk to someone whose primary concerns are so basic and they are grateful for the difference a bit of assistance is making. I wonder if I would see the world as full of potential. When asked what he wants to do after school, Jameston responded, “I want to be a lawyer.”

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