As many of you may know, Lindsey and I went to Africa last month! We were asked to help lead a team from California there because we are so much closer than other leaders in the States. So we went to Arusha, Tanzania to work with Convoy of Hope Tanzania at a couple different program centers.
The difference in poverty was striking. We are used to poverty in the European context, and while there are places with similar needs, they are
less widespread. Convoy’s director for Tanzania, Michael, really put the impact of poverty into perspective for us over lunch one day. Michael approached Lindsey, myself, and another young member of the team as we were loading our plates with food and he asked us, “Where you come from, what do children dream of when they are young?”
I replied, “Well that depends on the child. I wanted to be neurosurgeon, Lindsey wanted to be scientist, but most kids want to be an astronaut, or a police or fireman.”
He nodded and said, “Do you know what I dreamt of? I wanted to be able to eat rice every day.” This took us by surprise but he continued. “When I grew up, we had rice once a year, around Christmas or New Years because it was so expensive. But I heard stories of people who had enough money to be able to have rice every single day, and that was what I dreamt of.”
We were shocked to hear that. Rice, around the world, is one of the cheapest foodstuffs. Yet it is such a treat in some parts of the world that children literally dream of it. Michael pointed out that his circumstances impacted his ability to dream and lowered his potential. It’s an important lesson to learn and remember no matter where we are in the world. The circumstances people are in changes their abilities to reach their true potential. That is why we do what we do. If we can alleviate some of the suffering and need, it raises the sights of the people and that can literally change the outcome of their life. That is exactly what happened with Michael and now his children will never have to dream of having rice every day, because it is a reality.