Freedom Blog

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Poverty Keeps You In The Present!

No Limits | The Freedom Coach
Poverty Keeps You In The Present!

Written by Steven Griggs |

My sister just returned from Ethiopia after living there for 19 months. She went over to take a position as President of a 3000 student college. Many things transpired during her stay which is a story in of itself. 

She learned a lot about the corruption and mind set of the local business people towards westerners.

The people of Ethiopia are wonderful, quick to smile or laugh and big hearted.  When I visited for a month last year I experienced this every day.

My mother and I had many adventures on our two week trek through the north and northeast parts of the country.

We went in a Toyota 4x4 on dirt roads almost all the way,we had many adventures, with many breakdowns, fantastic historical spots and ancient ruins. It was an unbelievable trip!

What I came to see was that because the people live at the subsistence level, their days are filled with fetching water, gathering firewood or dung, moving their flocks of goats or sheep to forage along the roads, harvesting crops or doing whatever they can to make a few Birr.

They are entirely focused on survival. There is little or no future thinking, no media to speak of. Most people live in shacks with no running water or electricity.

So they only know about the outer world from relatives who have moved away or live in the few big cities. They don’t really have the concept of “a better future” . Because they live basically the way their ancestors have lived for millennia, there is no “future” to dream about and plan for, their focus is on simply meeting their needs for that day.

This it seems, is the secret, they are only focused on the “now”, and this leads to their lighter outlook on life and more happiness. They are only dealing with getting enough food, taking care of the the family, and making sure they all make it through another day. Simple. Fulfilling. No future thinking.

My sister became this way when after losing her driver (you would never want to drive on the streets of Addis!) and cook, she was forced to ride in the blue Volkswagen type buses that run all over Addis Abba, creating a kind of unofficial transportation system. They are all tightly packed with riders, all crammed in for the short run up to the next cluster of blue buses.  Most of the time she was the only westerner in sight.

There wasn’t prejudice, they treated her like she was one of them, they spoke to her in Amharic and expected her to understand and know what to do….. Those are big assumptions! My sister understood a little Amharic and could get her message across and survived, but she eventually developed the same mind set.

Get through the day! After a while, she was so absorbed in just living that day that she became calmer, more accepting. At peace.

You don’t have to live in Ethiopia to get this, you just have to stay in the present, be appreciative and thankful for what you have.  

Don’t forget to say thank you every day.