There are many experiences that make travel and living overseas valuable. One of the most humbling is to see true poverty. We’ve seen plenty of poor people in US cities. But the expansive slums of developing countries offer an opportunity to see entire communities of people living permanently in circumstances that are far below the US poverty line.
If our timing is right while on our way to our school in the morning, we pass by water trucks delivering to similar neighborhoods. Places where people have to walk for water. The nearest toilet may be quite a distance and not flush. Mosquitoes, rats and snakes can freely enter their dwelling… Most of us would be quite miserable.
But there are smiles from within. Honestly, the smiles on the faces of the children seem greater than the billionaires featured on some Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous episode.
A year an a half ago, after walking through a village in the foothills of the Himalayas, a student observed that the people in the village seemed so happy. They had nothing. The walls of their homes were just smoothed mud and it looked like they slept on the floor, yet they each had a smile and brightness that belied their circumstances. That student observed his own criteria for happiness shifting. I looked at my co-chaperon with hope for the world.
We paid PETE in Delhi for a tour of the slum that they work within. They provide educational opportunities for women and children in an effort to provide them with an opportunity to break the cycle of poverty. It doesn’t work often. But for less than the cost of 10 lotto tickets I found the potential imaginary return on investment exponentially more rewarding.
Ryan "Zieak" McFarland dabbles. Beards. Making things. Travel. Genealogy. Frugality and excessiveness. Fitness and fatness. He's a PE teacher in India, usually calls Alaska home and is a happy father to two boys and the husband to a suddenly crafty wife.