The sweetness in life

By Shehara de Mel

Have you ever complained or grumbled about life, a circumstance or something as insignificant as not having anything good to eat even when there are enough items in your fridge? I know I have complained about something or the other a countless number of times. We often moan or complain about things unknowingly, without giving any thought to it until we witness something different that changes our perception.

Travelling through rural and remote villages in the Northwestern province recently, the surroundings, although dry and extremely warm, were still, calm and peaceful. Maybe the only time it roared to life was when a herd of elephants passed through or so I liked to imagine. I noticed that houses, tiny brick blocks, were built amidst large thickets and overgrown foliage; tanks and wells were scattered sparingly and people had to walk quite a distance to fetch water or even take a bath. Some of the wells, (as I learned) contained non consumable water due to excessive amounts of salt, leaving them no choice but to walk further till another well or tank that contained good water was found. Rice was consumed sparingly in these parts given the extreme heat and dry weather conditions. Life was altogether different in this part of the country. Water and food are preserved and protected the way some of us protect our Macs or iPhones.

My discovery however was that although they dreamed of having more resources, finances or better opportunities for their children, they had a happiness about them that was indeed rare. It was a face of contentment despite the struggles they faced daily. They enjoyed time with their families and friends and even helped their fellow neighbours. People knew each other well, even those living 15-20 km away. It was a community within a region of communities. They didn’t complain or grumble about their life. Instead they applied the truth of taking just a little bit of sweetness in life to make the hard things a bit easier. Today, we still tend to live in our own comfort zones, complaining about trivial things not realizing that we are blessed with everything we need. We have enough food on our tables and sometimes even one plate of rice and curry a day is a lap of luxury to those who often have to be content with a handful of rice and biscuits.

This journey was not just a joyride; it taught me a valuable lesson, a lesson I had heard time and again, but often tend to forget when the ‘hardships’ of life come my way. Their lifestyles should be an example to us all. The busyness, worry and constant rush in our lives make us unaware, ignorant or even clueless about things outside our ‘world’. Although this may not link directly with volunteering, it is a revelation of the lives of people that movements like STITCH strive to help. Volunteering is not just a process that involves helping or reaching out to the helpless: it also a learning process, where those we help teach us something important. The few lessons I took to heart from this community were simply this: Firstly, we should be thankful for our lives; secondly, we should be content with who we are and what we have without wasting precious time griping about the things we don’t have; and finally, we should, like this community, take just a little bit of sweetness in life to make the hard things a bit easier.
STITCH is helping to make a difference in many communities today. To find out how you can get involved please visit www.stitchmovement.com

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