We can’t choose… When, where or how we come into the world. Today, I pay attention to what’s worth complaining about. This is why.
*For the record, this article contains no links to organizations, and does not ask you to donate. It simply asks that you truly grasp these facts.
Not too long ago, I woke up disoriented in the middle of the night around 3am. I came to realize that one of the most heart-wrenching forms of existence I had ever seen, was speaking to me clearly and directly. The narrator had a soft and careful way of forever imprinting her voice, and her message deep into my heart. I think about that night every day, and I have truly come to view life, freedom, safety, shelter, water and food in an entirely new light.
Raised in a country, where for the most part, we always have a way to survive and meet our basic necessities, somehow or in some way, I had no idea that most of the world was not this lucky. It took me a life of twenty-six years to fully comprehend that people are starving, sick, dehydrated, and struggling on a minute-to-minute basis to simply survive. Small children and babies don’t get to have a happy childhood where everything is magical, and where exploring life and who they are is full of dreams and content. Why it took so long for me to grasp this tragic truth, I am unsure. Maybe it’s because the documentaries are only airing in the middle of the night. I don’t recall learning of this in school as I grew into a young adult, either. America is a beautiful place to live, and I must say that I now feel somewhat of a disappointment that the harsh poverty, prominently existing in the world, is not something that is on our agenda to lend a helping hand, let alone recognize. Our government has spent billions of dollars on a war that caused so much pain and suffering, in the attempts to solve a problem that will probably never be fully solved. Yet if we spent that money to feed and provide medicine to those who desperately need it, it is very possible that starving children could have more than boiled water for dinner to take the hunger pains away. The next time we feel upset, negative, or that we just don’t have “enough”, think of this; In America, if we are truly starving, and often times if we are not, we have the opportunity to qualify for food stamps, W.I.C., and cash assistance. If these benefits are used correctly, they can be more than enough to stay nourished for the allotted month. America defines poverty, for example, as a family of four earning $23,850 a year. America sets the cutoff level based on income. Other countries set that level based on the ability to meet basic necessities, because they have no money to base the income level on. One Million Children die every year because they are so malnourished. Thirty-four Million Children suffer from severe acute malnutrition, which is deadly if not treated. That is thirty-four MILLION. I don’t know about the person who is reading this, but the thought of my baby girl, who is only fifteen months old, starving to the point of death, is one that I can’t hardly fathom.
I am going to recall the vivid and deeply disturbing message that I was awakened to witness that night. Not only has it changed my view on all that I do have in life, but it has opened my eyes wide to what many people don’t have in life. And let me say this. As soon as I am capable, and my books and business make me millions, I’ll be taking a trip to Guatemala, and I won’t be leaving until I have done as much as I possibly could, to give to the people who need it to the point of survival. I hope that you’ll make this a goal of your own. I would sacrifice my cell phone, laptop, and even my home, if it meant that these broken people had a better chance to not only survive, but thrive.
A young man in his twenties was just deported back home to Guatemala. He had been arrested, along with several other young men working in a meat factory in America. He was deported only two months after his arrival. For months, this young man and his poverty-stricken family had planned his hopeful journey to America. He needed to work and earn money, because his mother had cancer, and desperately needed the tumor removed before her illness became irreversibly terminal. As the young man was transported back to his home, his family greeted him with a look of defeat and pain. They all gave him hugs and pats on the back for trying. His mother was in tears, fearing that she may lose her life. His father was in tears, saying “All of this work, all of this planning, was for nothing!”
The family used every last bit of resources that they had to send their son, who was also a brother, nephew, uncle and friend to the land of the free, so they may have a fighting chance. They had risked absolutely everything, to work for only seven dollars an hour. This is more than what the lucky workers in Guatemala will make in one day of hard labor.
A ten-year-old boy spends his days digging in a landfill, looking for anything and everything that may be of value. When he was nine, he was so malnourished that his size and weight were that of a three or four-year old child. His tiny body is covered with infected open wounds which have turned into abscesses, he is constantly sick every day of his life, and he regularly has a fever and trouble breathing. Yet this little boy still manages to get up to work for hours on end, every day, and still offer a shy smile of hope. His parents passed away from illness, and he lives with his Grandmother who is also very sick, very poor, and very sad. Their home is made up of a hard floor which turns to mud in the rain, used and torn couches and chairs, with a black tarp tied securely to trees and branches-turned-posts. For breakfast and lunch, his only available food source is beans. He lives in what would resemble a dumpster without the front wall. He has no shoes, and must walk for miles every day to find water. He still remains full of hope, and says that he wants to be a police man when he grows up so he can help the people of his country.
These children never get to be children. They must help their family with as many chores as they can, at the earliest age possible, just to stay alive. One mother who lost her husband in a work-related accident, who was left to grieve with three children and an infant, said that her greatest fear is the death of herself or her children. Tears were streaming down her face as the realistic thought came to her mind. She worked for eight hours one day, hoping to make a sale for a local bakery. She did not make the sale, so she did not earn money. She brought home a half-loaf of bread that evening, and broke it into tiny pieces to divide among her children. The infant was crying out of pain from hunger, and her only remedy was to boil the little amount of water that she had left, and give a warm drink to her baby to ease the pain. Her older daughters, ages nine and eleven, were crying because they just wanted to go to school, but it wasn’t an option.
This is only a brief summary of what other people in the world are forced to face every day, every hour, every minute, of every second. They literally have to fight to stay alive. They aren’t blessed with simple things like air-conditioning, water, food, toilets, showers, electricity, heat, shelter, medicine and education. They are sad, tired, miserable, sick, hungry and defeated.
Next time you have a bad day, make it a goal to pass this message on and accept the humbling opportunities that Americans are fortunate enough to have. Remind yourself that you are lucky to have been born here. They didn’t get to choose their life. But with our resources, we can choose to make a difference.