“I usually joke about my years spent in a West African village, as if they were simply a sweaty, stinky, rat eating, tummy cramping adventure, as if Africa and the villagers hadn’t given their homes, their laughter, their grooves, their children, their food, their lives, as if they hadn’t given and given and given their strength, their love, their spirit…”
(Monique Schmidt. Last Moon Dancing)
Malians give, and give, and give. I say the poor help the poor more than we do. They look after each other, as most never see an NGO or government program showing up to help anyone around them.
Papaya – I was in a small remote camp this week, and before I left they had bundled up two huge papaya in a sack and sent me home with them.
Cabbage – In the next village where we work with fifty families, the man in the field next to where we work came over and gave us two huge cabbage. He had already given us two the week before also.
Chicken – An elderly man gave me this chicken as a gift. I was humbled by his generosity. As he handed it to me, he actually apologized, saying,
“I am sorry the chicken is so small, but she is the only one I have right now.”
Talking about humbling. Receiving a poor man’s last chicken? But you dare not refuse, and thus insult him. But it’s hard to take.
But this kind of generosity, which we often see among the poorest of the poor, speaks volumes. We westerners think we give to the poor? The poor, in their generosity, give more to their fellow poor (and the rich) than we ever will. They keep each other alive. I’ve seen this generosity of the poor often, with my own eyes, and, unfortunately (or is it fortunately?) i am the recipient of it at times as well.