This morning our daughter Sarah sent a short editorial I want to share with you. It has to do with the Avon Lady.
But first, I’d like you to taste a little of what we see here every day. Rather than editorialize, let’s just take a silent tour of Uganda so you can see and imagine how challenging life can be. See the children and give ’em a hug. See how the workers transport their goods, what an ambulance from a leading hospital looks like, where the children go every day to haul water to their homes (which have none), the food they eat with bare hands, where they shop, what an outhouse (called a long drop) looks like, and their handicrafts. Take your time. Go slow. Then, when you end the photo tour, read Sarah’s insightful comments about our pursuit of stuff. Enjoy.
Now, from Sarah:
We have this Avon lady who comes into the library every other Wednesday. I tend to completely ignore her. As she was there showing some new items to the ladies I work with yesterday, I couldn’t help but think of you out there in the bush and wondered what those Africans would make of an Avon lady. She’s got this little bunny that plays a rock tune and struts to the music, a large stuffed Anna doll from Frozen who sings a cutesy song, and there’s the new clothes and the jewelry you’ve just got to have and of course there are the serving dishes. Just felt like all this meaningless clutter she’s trying to sell and it’s all such an illusion, such an utter waste. I flipped through her magazine and thought, There’s not one thing in this little book that would make me feel better about my life, better about who I am. I may have my vices but the Avon lady and I will never be friends :-). Nothing against her personally, but isn’t there a greater hunger out there? A greater need for substance and truth than Avon could ever sell you? That’s my soapbox for the day.
Here in Uganda, you can see what a person must do to get enough for just one meal of Posho and beans. You see the shoeless children (with Jiggers in their feet), the lean, sweaty men who toil all day for a few schillings. You watch tiny women street sweepers with their bush brooms, constantly sweeping the red dirt at the roadside every day. Then things begin to come better into focus.
Try this on for size: Uganda has about 80% unemployment. The average monthly income in Kampala is 250,000 schillings (about $95 U.S. dollars). As you go to smaller towns and villages, that average drops dramatically. Most people here have a subsistence garden where they grow most of what they eat or they go hungry. One teacher here got a job at a local school for 100,000 schillings per month ($38 US). Her rent is 80,000 schillings. That leaves just 20,000 schillings per month for food, clothing, transport (few own cars so they use taxis). Can you imagine what she can do with that each month? And this is a college-educated professional woman.
Whatever your circumstances, be grateful. That is actually one of the most significant keys to the happiness here in Uganda – their gratitude for the simplest things. Just this morning in our office meeting, the Ugandan office worker offering the prayer thanked God for the gift of life. May we be blessed with a little more gratitude and a little less lust for more and more stuff.