Q&A With The Creans

This week I’ve produced five 2 minute videos answering some questions about life in Africa.

1. Does everyone live in mud huts?

2. Isn’t it always hot there?

3. Everything is cheap there isn’t it?

4. Isn’t it dangerous being there?

5. Are there beggars everywhere?

Hopefully you feel better informed and see that Kenya is just like your place – just a bit different!

boy praying

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Solomon’s Choice

When people think of labels like ‘Third World’ or ‘Developing Country’ there’s this automatic picture we get in our mind of streets lined with beggars.

I can only speak on what I’ve seen here in Kenya – there aren’t that many beggars. Pete tells me that he was shocked when he went to Ethiopia and saw so many people begging on the streets. We see some regulars at their normal spot. A mother with a child, a legless man, an elderly bearded man and a bunch of kids (on the weekend). They’re all situated by shopping malls where traffic slows down or there’s an intersection. During the holidays there’s a whole stack of primary school boys who have a ‘pimp’ telling them how to get more money.

We’ve made it a general rule not to give out money to kids begging on the street. It’s a hard one because you know that these kids are from families that live on $2 a day. They wouldn’t be doing it if they didn’t have to. Most people here will find a way to make money, usually by selling some goods, clothing or services.

The reason we generally don’t give out money is that we don’t want to encourage the practice. There’s a huge assumption that because you’re a foreigner you have lots of money. It’s true, foreigners generally do have more money than a local. However, if you look at whose driving the BMW’s, Mercedes and Prados, many of them are driven by Kenyans.

Last Sunday our stance was challenged. Liz had stayed to hang with her mates at an after church event so Pete and I snuck out to a great Chinese restaurant by our house. The food there is ridiculously cheap and tastes fantastic. Sundays are the only time you can drive around the city and not get stuck in a traffic jam.

This is not the boy I saw begging

This is not the boy I saw begging

As we’re driving into the restaurant I notice a boy aged around 4 dressed in rags and looking like he hadn’t bathed in days. He was by himself which is unusual because they normally work in groups. He wasn’t actively begging, running up to cars and tapping on the window. He was simply standing as close as possible to the road with a vacant look in his eyes.

He was four.

Two hours later we drove out of the restaurant and he was still there, in the same spot.

As we refueled the car I just kept staring at this boy. Here, we had just spent hours eating, having a Coke and planning out the next few months. This boy had no future, he didn’t even have today. I had to make a choice – stick with the plan or give this kid a chance.

As we drove past I told Pete to slow down, wound down the window and handed the boy fifty shillings (around 50 cents). I said to him “Go buy yourself some food”. He probably hadn’t started school so didn’t know what I was saying but I’m sure he got the gist.

The reason I only gave him that amount is that he was by himself and if I gave him more someone would’ve snatched it out of his hand. If I had something like some fruit in the car I would’ve given him that. At least then there would be food in his stomach.

This is why I hate poverty. It makes people do things they normally wouldn’t. It stops them from having a life where they can go to school, find employment and have a future.

All I did was help for one minute. Imagine how many more we can help long term.

Would I do it again? Maybe. I’m not planning on making a habit out it but I am planning on helping a whole bunch more who can help themselves.

Want to help me achieve that?

http://makingadifference.gofundraise.com.au/page/TheGirlsProject

My Confession

I’m not Catholic, but I think there’s something healthy about confessing something. It may not change the situation but you feel unburdened and hopefully get a fresh start.

I am jealous. Not even a small amount, I mean jealous with a capital J.

 

1. The thing I’m really jealous of is that people have the capacity to earn money.

Gone are the days when we could redecorate someone’s house, paint a building or do a photo shoot to get some extra cash or travel overseas with. I really miss those days. Sure, it may not seem much to you, but to both Pete and I it’s a huge thing.

Instead we have become professional beggars, accosting friends and family around the world for donations to live off and do our work in East Africa.

begging

Even people here have that one on us. Sure, there is a huge unemployment rate but I really admire the people who even have a stall on the side of the road selling foodstuffs.

There is something about earning a good dollar. A friend who is a trained counsellor told me that job satisfaction is the top priority for people in their 40’s and 50’ and I can identify with that. However, the pay also makes it worth it.

Actually, it’s not about making money, but having the freedom to do so.

I think that’s like a lot of people here who have far less options than us right now. They feel like their hands are tied and unlike us they don’t have hope nor a good circle of supporters who are doing life with them. So, although I hate this feeling, I’m thankful for what we’ve had, do have and will have.

I am thankful for every single person who partners with us. This whole thing makes us rely on God and to be honest, it doesn’t get any easier. But if I can trust God to save me, I can trust Him to take care of us each day.

 

2. I get jealous of photos people put up of the beach.

We lived in Sydney for 11 years and loved every moment of it. For the first two years I would wake up and say ‘another day in paradise’. Not sure what happened after that but we really, really enjoyed it. I loved going for a run most days and then spending 30 minutes at the beach – a 4 minute walk away. If there’s anything I miss, it’s being able to get out the door and go for a good walk. Here it’s a high risk sport going for a run by the road. In our first week here we almost got hit by a person pretending they could drive. I’ve never seen a driver with such large eyes.

beachOur nearest beach is a 9 hour drive – and not an easy drive either.

There’s a place we drive by that has this large unused field lined with trees and Pete would say in our early days here ‘I’m just imagining that there is a beach behind those trees’.

This past week we finally got a coffee table and we indulged in spending $20 on this absolutely beautiful canoe shaped bowl. We bought it specifically to put in it shells we had bought from Hawaii (my favourite holiday destination) which have been packed for the last 12 months. I look at them with fond memories and yes, I’ve even put one up to my ear to hear the ocean.

That’s what it’s about though – gratefulness. We’ve travelled all around the world, have seen amazing things and met some incredible people. I’ve someone working in our office who has never been out of the country and until a few months ago hadn’t been to a town only 2 hours away.

It’s about keeping things in perspective.

photo

3. I get jealous that you get Mainland Cheese.

Pathetic I know, but man does it taste good. I mean, it’s creamy, soft and melts on toasted sandwiches.  Even when we lived in Sydney you could buy Mainland Cheese there. No wonder I couldn’t keep the weight off!

There are several times I wish people could bring back real cheese in their suitcase. The cheese here just doesn’t taste like anything. Apparently you have to leave it in the fridge for a couple of months to get anything decent out of it.

I long for the days of macaroni cheese, toasted sandwiches and a decent cheese sauce over the cauliflower. What’s the point of having cauliflower anyway if you can’t have cheese sauce!

Actually you can buy New Zealand cheese here, for $30 a kilo. Even then I’m not totally convinced that it’s the real deal. Liz is in NZ and told me she had nachos the other night with stacks of cheese on it. She asked my sister for a whole pile of cheese. Proof that it’s not just me!

However, I have found an okay Camembert cheese for the rice crackers people have sent us. Unfortunately it has to be a special treat every few months, which is probably good for my waistline.

cheese

4. I get jealous of those overseas photos on Facebook

Actually that’s a total lie. I don’t at all. It’s the same when people put up photos of their latest car, clothes or anything very cool. Some people feel bad that they get these things while we are ‘giving it all up to live in Africa’. Not at all. I love to celebrate every single adventure people are having.

We are so blessed to be able to do what we do and yet live in an online world that allows us to live with a global family. Please, please, please keep putting up those updates and photos of your adventures. There’s enough sadness in the world and we need to learn to celebrate what and when we can with those that we care about.

If I can say anything, it would be to get out of your comfort zone and go on an adventure.

I have a friend who is a little older than me who is travelling through Europe and she looks like she is having an absolute ball. I love seeing her smiling face enjoying the sites, people and ice cream sundaes. I love the fact that after all these years she is taking a well deserved holiday.

You see, jealousy can be a driving force to eat you up about what you don’t have or it can be an opportunity to enjoy what you actually do have. If I spend all my time whinging ‘I don’t have this, I don’t have that’ it takes my focus off the joy of the moment and appreciating what we do have.

Sure, I’d give my right arm to get on a plane and shoot to Dubai for the weekend, who wouldn’t. We could do that and not eat for two months – that’s not exactly a winning situation. Or, I can enthusiastically look forward to our 6 visitors this week, knowing we have a house big enough for them all. It’s probably the first time in our lives that we’ve had a place big enough that people don’t have to sleep on the floor when they come. Now that’s something to be happy about.

When we lived in Sydney one of our kids (who will remain nameless but it begins with H) would always complain about living in a ghetto – Dee Why. We would remind her that our 2 bedroom apartment rental was a half a million dollar ‘ghetto’. After taking her on her first trip to Africa she really saw the meaning of the word and we didn’t hear a peep out of her about it from that time on.

People tell me that I am so lucky doing what we do. But let’s hear it people – what are you jealous of?