How can they be happy without air conditioning when it gets so hot here? How can they be happy without takeout food, especially Chinese? How can they be happy without their own car? Many people travel by bus in Kenya and I have had several unpleasant experiences on bus trips to New York City many years ago.
It appears that most people in this part of Kenya have very little in the way of furniture, clothes, electronics or much of anything. When my daughter told me that there was lightness about them, maybe she was talking about their lack of stuff. I suppose that when you don’t have lots of stuff, you don’t have the burden of cleaning, storing and maintaining lots of stuff either. Can you imagine a world without all the modern conveniences that we all use every day? Maybe the people of Kenya who don’t spend so much time taking care of their stuff have more time to spend with each other as human beings. Without so many possessions each of us would have much more discretionary time.
Having a lot of stuff requires a big time commitment. Maybe when you have very little, that which you have and the surprises that you encounter along the way become much more meaningful. In America, many of us give ourselves so much that when we encounter a surprise gift of kindness it is nice but it does not rise to a level of fulfillment or great appreciation. I did not get to purchase things that I wanted all year round.
I know from my own readings that there are many challenges on the African continent and I would have concluded from those readings and pictures that people were very unhappy there. I was glad to learn that at least in the part of Africa that my daughter visited people seemed to be quite happy in spite of their lack of material wealth. My daughter said that the beautiful children that she encountered were especially happy and that happiness was apparent in their frequent laughter, radiant smiles and great appreciation of the simplest gift.
I would suppose that we all could learn a great deal from people living in the challenging circumstances of Kenya. Principally, how to experience happiness just because you are lucky enough to be alive; how to live a life that is more selfless and how to survive our circumstance whatever they might be.
Remember, all kids count.
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