Monday, 19 March 2012

How much really IS enough?

Imagine living with your grandmother, uncle and little brother in a 3m x 4m one room, tin roofed mud-brick house. There are two small single beds, one for you and your brother, and one for your grandmother and uncle. In summer it gets so hot you can barely breathe inside the house, in winter you huddle close to your family for warmth. Dinner is cooked in a rust-stained pot on the floor under a spattering of twigs, while the chickens strut in and out of the house at their leisure.

Inside Dawits house

I don’t have to imagine this. I’ve seen it. Three years ago I visited my World Vision sponsor child, Dawit, in his home village of Samr√®, a picturesque town perched high atop a cliff in remote northern Ethiopia. Dawit’s family welcomed me so warmly into their home, cooking me a delicious meal with traditional Ethiopian coffee. I pointed at a hand-spun woven bowl adorning the wall and remarked at how beautiful it was, and in an instant they were taking it off the wall and offering it to me as a gift (I can still smell the wood-smoke embedded in it’s fibres).

Receiving a gift from Dawit and his family

The children at Dawits school kick a soccer ball made out of small rocks inside an old Coca Cola bottle, when their feet get too long for their shoes they cut off the top so their toes stick out, and when their clothes get holes in them from prolonged wear they sew the holes shut until the garment resembles a bullet riddled rag.

To the majority of westerners it would seem that these people have nothing, however I tend to disagree. Sure they don’t have reverse-cycle air-conditioning, or under-floor heating, but they have a roof over their head, they have the comfort of family, and they have a village community who share when times get tough.

Northern Ethiopia

It makes me question the ideal of our society that the more we have, the better off we will be. This idea to me is crazy! Just how many toys does one child need? How many pairs of shoes, how many DVD’s, how many clothes does one need in order to survive?

I think we're a society gone mad when I see babies in designer label onesies or toddlers wearing Peter Alexander pyjamas. What are we teaching our children about the value of money when we splurge on them with the basics of life? I myself am guilty of wanting the best of everything for my son, who wouldn’t, but what really IS enough for him? A designer label item that means nothing to him or something he has saved up to buy with his own money and then looks after and cherishes to death? And let’s face it; are we buying those fancy pyjamas for our children, or to make us feel better about ourselves?

What can YOU do without?

The rich industrialist from the North was horrified to find the southern fisherman lying lazily beside his boat, smoking a pipe.
“Why aren’t you out fishing?” asked the industrialist.
“Because I have caught enough fish for the day”, said the fisherman.
“Why don’t you catch some more?”
“What would I do with them?”
“You could earn more money” was the industrialist’s reply. “With that you could have a motor fixed to your boat and go into deeper waters and catch more fish. Then you would make enough money to buy nylon nets. These would bring you more fish and more money. Soon you would have enough money to own two boats… maybe even a fleet of boats. Then you would be a rich man like me.”
“What would I do then?” asked the fisherman.
“Then you could really enjoy life.”
“What do you think I am doing right now?”

Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a message!


  1. I agree whole-heartedly. And the more we give our children the more they want. The children of today seem to have much less respect for people and property - I think a little "going without"would be great for them.

    1. Thanks Melissa. You are so right (in my opinion!). My husband and I have a goal- when our youngest child turns 10, we want to take the family on a trip to Africa, to see how they live. I think it would give our children an immense appreciation for all that we have and are given here in Australia.

      And yes, sometimes "going without" can actually give you so much more