I don’t want to exhaust the teaching element of the $2 day, I am sure that all of you who participated had your own “learning moments” and that you are as frustrated as I am today about the plight of the poor in the world. No doubt about it, the challenge was much harder than I had anticipated it would be, but the lessons that came with it are ones that my family will not soon forget.
I do have a few short takeaways from our experience that I wanted to share with you. Things that I felt were being reshaped inside my own heart during the day.
1. It’s no fun. The one topic that we heard over and over again from our kids throughout the day was. “How do people do this?” Truthfully I don’t know, watching my four year old daughter stand up on her chair, lean over the empty bowl of rice on the table and ask “Why is it all gone?” was too much for me. (We broke down and gave her a banana, by the way) I don’t honestly know how someone could wake each day, and struggle to feed their own children.
2. Living on so little is a lot of work. Not only do the poor likely spend most of their day earning the little bit of money that they have, but trying to take that little and create a sustainable diet for your family is extremely complicated. This was a surprise to me, for some reason I always thought of poverty in terms of the struggle to earn, and had not really considered the struggle to feed as well.
3. The answers are complicated. The other thing that we discussed many times during the day was what we can actually do to help. Living here in Ethiopia, poverty is all around us, yet we have also seen first hand the debilitating effects of handouts. Watched as perfectly capable young men made “friends” with foreign visitors and then lost their drive to succeed. If you can get it for free why work? Right? At the end of the day we came to the conclusion that the best possible thing we can learn, and then takeaway from this experience is to lean closer into God, and listen to his heart for the poor and needy. If He tells us to give, if He shows us a need, our ears and hearts are now wide open. We will give where He leads, and look towards sustainable solutions that will solve the long term problem not just the immediate issue.
For us there is a extremely poor family who lives across the street that we feel called to help. We are going to be giving them small jobs that they can do to earn money, and speak with them more about the future and what they (we) are doing to improve their situation. We are looking for ways to help in a sustainable manner.
We are also that much more excited about the project here in Ethiopia and the widows who will now not only be given food each day, but a new family made up of orphans to look after. The future is looking very bright for these women and children!
I know there are many more lessons here, and for each of us who participated I am sure God was working on a different area of our hearts. I pray that we all become softer through this lesson, that our hearts have been expanded and that we will give freely where he leads. I know I see things in a whole new way now.