I truly have done nothing but reflect on the experience of Africa for the past 2 weeks. To witness people who have so little compared to American standards who are so happy and full of hope is a life changing experience that call into question all of our values and priorities. In America, many children walk away from their opportunity for an education, while African children strive to be able to afford an education. Young women have additional struggles to avoid leaving school for forced marriages and other family responsibilities that date back in time so far that we cannot conceive of the cultural history driving them. To see stagnate water being used as the water source for families and communities and to see primitive dwellings house complete families in the 21st century is not something I will soon forget.
We have much to learn from other cultures, just as we have much to share. While we can share more modern understandings of women’s rights and women’s role in an educated society, as well as promote social justice and equality for all people, we can also learn from the generosity and spirit of hope evident in the smiles of these children. The one act of generosity that will stay with me forever is from a young Maasai girl named Liemon. My oldest daughter had met this child on the trip last January (2016) and had sent a letter with me to give to the child. I finally found her, or rather she found me. She came up to me from a crowd of children and took my hand. I asked her name and she told me she was Liemon. I was so excited to meet her and deliver the letter from my daughter. In return for the letter and pictures, this sweet child took off the necklace that you see her wearing in this picture and put it around my neck and fastened it. She gave it to me as a gift. I have so much and she has so little, but this gesture of generosity will forever remind me of the gentleness of humanity that exists in all of us that connects us to each other no matter how different our cultures or our lives. A simple gift with a pure spirit that will forever be imprinted on my heart.