You may have heard the title before. Its a phrase that I have adopted from the Mocha Club- an organization commited to giving up the cost of a few mochas a month to support projects in Africa.
I am often reminded of how little the people of Africa (as a whole) have compared to Americans. Many experience levels of suffering that is impossible to describe until you have seen it for yourself, then when you see it, it is difficult to believe. One of the great impossibles is reconciling the joy they have with the suffering and difficulty they face. It is a joy that comes from somewhere deep, somewhere other than the framework I have experienced in life.
If you have never been to Africa you may have only seen the images on television, which many times depict sadness, depression, even misery. Prior to going to Africa I bought into that lie- that Africans were unhappy, discontent in some way with the place life had brought them. Reality is, in Africa I encounter a joy unmatched- a peacefulness to the trials and struggles- a place of family and fun, where people love to dance and sing. Where despair should thrive I see people laugh and play and children kick a soccer ball made from trash. In Africa they do not have reprieve from struggles by doing a "girls night" or getting a manicure- relationships and faith alone provide joy. Yet, more people in the world have cell phones than have toilets- many of whom are in Africa. 1 in 7 people do not have clean water in the world. The average total water use per day for 1 person in the United States is greater than 100 gallons. In Africa the average person struggles to find 5.
In my current reality I am stressed. I am quivering under the pressure of my responsibilities right now, but I know that my joy should have no regard for my circumstances. I'm ashamed at the lack of faith I have exhibited at times, but I also look forward to new beginnings and fresh starts. Its daunting. I'm uneasy with change and, it seems the older I get, more emotional over change and letting go; starting anew and letting little ones grow older. On the contrary, the thought of freedom and exploration of the new is exciting, for I love a good challenge. My prayer is that what I have learned in my head will begin to have a trickle-down effect to my heart. I do not want my desire for "the next thing" to determine my level of joy. I write this with tears forming at my eyes.
Hear me that I am not saying Africa does not need me, it does. It needs all of us. Mother Theresa once said, "We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean, but the ocean would be less because of that missing drop." I've come to know that "I need Africa more than Africa needs me". Africa has taught me that the possessions in my hands is not as valuable as peace in my heart. Join me on this journey.