Author Note: Kees is pronounced case.
Continuation of Guinea posts–>
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. Of the 37 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 trusts 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 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. 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 living a simpler life, especially after a trip like this.