Today we worked with MaAfrika and most of my day was spent chopping onions, probably ten pounds of onions or more. We were chopping up vegetable for the next day's meal that is prepared in the soup kitchen for the clients in the family support program. Our table was in the courtyard where we could see the kids dancing so from time to time I would break and watch the kids and they have not stopped amazing me. Watching them interact with each other is nothing like working with kids their age in the US. They are the most courteous and mannered kids I've seen in a long time. There was a part of their dance lesion where they got into a semicircle and one child would go into the middle and do some sort of freestyle dance. They cheered and clapped for every single person that got into the middle. Back home you just don't see the same type of encouragement from kids. I figured by the end of the time we would be working with them we would have seen at least one fight or argument amongst them but that has not happened.
I know that this has to be a part of the culture. Though I was in a tearful state from the onions I could clearly see that there is a difference in the manners they these children embrace. Another interesting conversation that I had was from a woman named Michelle. She walked up to us while we were chopping onions and jumped right into conversation about everything, where we were from? What we were doing here and how we liked it thus far. So we engaged in the conversation and learned a bit about her as well. Her children play at MaAfrika she lives close to the center and she also does some volunteering there. She told us that she is so blessed because she has a job and she doesn't fear her children's safety. So because of her many blessings she volunteers her time and loves to give.
Michelle's statement hit me so strongly; she expresses her gratefulness for the basic necessities in a way that is truly appreciative. Whereas in America people don't realize that they are fortunate and decide to give up time and energy for people that are less fortunate. During this experience I felt great about the work that we are doing with MaAfrika but to hear this story was so touching and realistic. It truly makes me question what the hell are Americans are grateful for? All these thoughts coming from tears and onions.