Friday, October 28, 2011

Cracked, broken and bare. . .

I live in a third world country. South Africa to be exact.
No, elephants do not roam our streets and we do not eat lion, to name some MAJOR misconceptions the rest of the world has about living in Africa.

There is something else though, something else that roams our streets. Poor people.

There is no such thing as a second world country, but I classify my country as one. We have incredible and beautiful cities with grand homes and quaint suburbs. We have five star hotels, restaurants and amazing schools with all their learners buttoned up in their blazers and briefs.
There is also immense poverty. Shacks line the outskirts of most main cities and with the instability of some of our neighbouring countries, refugees have poured in in the millions. Unemployment is a huge problem and government schools have hundreds and thousands failing per year.
Why do I chose to write on this today? Well, something I saw a few weeks ago hit a note for me and I've decided to share the pain of what I saw.

I am part of the privileged elite in my country. I go to a brilliant school, have enough food on the table every day and I have a proper home with my own room and a bed to sleep in every night. Nothing terrible has ever really happened to me, and what I saw that day kicked me the face with how amazingly blessed I am.

I was on the way back from an orchestra rehearsal and was looking out of the window when I saw a man begging for money in between the cars waiting for the robot to turn green. This was not an unusual sight to me as almost every robot has some kind of beggar asking for either food, work or money. I've seen children as young as 8 years old asking for food or money while their mother, holding her new born baby, leaned against the robot post. But this beggar had something else that was very distinctive about him.

He wasn't wearing any shoes.

He was a man of colour, but his feet were white from dryness and I could see the cracks in his heels as he walked over the stubbly tar towards the next car that refused to give him some sort of aide. I reluctantly looked down at my black school shoes and long blue socks, and to perfectly honest, I wanted to rip the them right off my feet and hand them to him through the window. I don't know if he would've accepted them, but I guess I'll never know. At this very moment in time - which happens to be at night - there is a huge storm over the whole city. My prayers are with that man and every other person in the same situation who is out there right now.

My dear readers, I want you to look at you shoes. Look at them closely, and think of them how a person with barely a shirt to cover their body with would. Think of them as the one way to stop the eternal pain that throbs upwards from your cracked, broken and bare feet. Look at your shoes, and never stop feeling grateful that they're there.