A Different World: Ethiopia | Teen Ink

A Different World: Ethiopia

April 29, 2008
By Anonymous

Every teenager complains. We don’t have the cell phone we want, our room is too small, we aren’t allowed out to hang with friends. Nothing ever seems to go the way we want it. Before this year complaining was a part of my every day life, but once I got a glimpse into a world very different from my everyday life I gained a new out look.

In February I went on a trip to Ethiopia in Africa. Everybody told me that it was going to be a life changing and amazing experience. I kind of assumed that it would be; yet I did not know what it would entail. The way we live, the way the poor people in our country live, is far better than the living conditions of even the working class in Ethiopia.

My best friend and I were both overwhelmed by the amount of poverty and the low level of education we saw. The people smelled horrible, they looked malnourished, they walked 4 hours each morning to sell their month old fruit at markets with hundreds of others, they lived with dozens of family members, and begged in order to pay 20-dollar rents. They have next to no opportunities. They work in desperation so that they can continue to live in small huts reeking not only of unclean bodies, but also of lost hopes and dreams. Or what seem to be lost hopes and dreams.
I know that I take life for granted, we all do. School is stressful and annoying. Most of the time I do not want to go, I find it frustrating. In Ethiopia, school is the only way you can have a flicker of a chance to climb up from street begging to something like cab driving. When my friend and I interviewed people of the Shandi towns the most important thing to every single one of them was getting a good education so that they could support their families. Their younger siblings will try to do the same as them and maybe, but unfortunately not possibly, they can rise from poverty.
I cannot even begin to understand how one can continue to be positive and reach for hopes and dreams when they live with nothing. I don’t know how I could continue on, not just because I wouldn’t have the comforts I automatically obtain by living in America, but because I wouldn’t have the necessities to survive; food, water, safe shelter, family, faith.
Faith. That is what keeps me going (besides my parent’s constant nagging). I found that faith is the key to the people living, what seems to me, a horrible life. The people in Ethiopia are all incredibly religious and whether they have a stable life or not they all believe in a higher power, and that god’s own will will lead them.

It was beautiful to realize this. When we went into a mosque my friend was freaking out because she felt uncomfortable. It is uncomfortable to walk in on people in such powerful service, in such strong prayer. But it is also beautiful. The street rats and men in suits beside each other because they all believe in god.
I cannot tell you that you shouldn’t take life for granted, for you will only understand so if you figure it out for yourself, but that faith is one of the most powerful things you can hold on to. You may question a faith in god or a religious figure, but as long as you have a belief and trust in a higher power or something beyond yourself, you will be rich and full with love and life.

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