Tuesday, June 12, 2007

This is Real Life

Cape Coast, Ghana, 4/9/05: "For the last few weeks, I've been gaining a greater sense of reality, as though the adventure aspect and novelty [of Ghana] have given way to the dep, intrinsic knowledge that this - is - real - life. For the people that live here, it is all they know, just as, before I came, Utah was all I knew. For Michael [a student at the orphanage school, pictured above], his everyday reality is hunger and cramped quarters and sleeping on concrete and a bamboo roof that leafs in the rain and he knows nothing else. And in a month, I'll go back to my everyday reality of fast food and five bedrooms and a daybed and red brick and shingles, and I'm so afraid that I'll forget, amidst the glamour of $10 DVD deals and the pink skirt I'm dying to have, that there is a village called Efutu where a 10-year-old boy and his family are still living just where I left them. And there is a part of me that wants to forget, the same part that wants the DVD's and the pink skirt and doesn't want to think about the ones who have nothing so I can enjoy my comparative wealth in the bliss of ignorance.

So the question becomes, where do I draw the line? I can't subject myself to poverty merely to dole out money to a world that needs so much-- for Efutu is one tiny village in Ghana, and Ghana is one tiny country amidst all those suffering in poverty. I can't save the whole world, much as my idealistic heart wants to, and it makes no sense to deny myself the things I wish for others. That being the case, I can't do nothing, not when I'm in a position to give. So I suppose that means for me to choose-- choose one aspect of the world that is within my power to help bring about positive change and progression."

I wrote this in my journal as I was nearing the end of my stay in Ghana. I grew afraid of forgetting, of returning home and doing nothing further to help. But I couldn't forget, not completely. Not when I had found a love for these children so deep it felt like it couldn't come from my own small heart. And yet, sometimes, I do get caught up in the $10 DVD deals, because that is real life too. I've realized that part of my fear of forgetting was the fear that as I forgot them, I would forget why it was so horrible to forget.

Then I remember the last paragraph of that journal entry. DVD's don't mean I have forgotten my children. I can't do it all, and I can't do it all the time, but I can still choose to remember, choose to do something. I have chosen a part of the world that I have the power to help, something that I chose to love, and I give out of that love.

So choose something. Choose someone. It doesn't have to be New Life Orphanage, or Ghana, or solving world hunger. Just choose one thing, one person, and make a difference in that person's life-- because it is as real as yours.

Photo: Michael (age 10) at a volunteer's goodbye celebration.


Emma said...

WOW... AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Emma said...

You should be a writer!