“Like, oh-my-god, this whole, like “not shopping” thing is, like, so hard.”
While I go on struggling with my lamentable attempts to cut down on caffeine and consumables, the “Make a Difference” service at my church is a fantastic opportunity to get some perspective on things.
Last Sunday, Julian Page, from the Livingstone Tanzania Trust (LTT), came to talk. A legacy fund from Holy Trinity has been supporting the Trust, and Julian came to talk to us about what had been achieved over the past year with the money given.
I found the talk extremely moving; I’d been having a bad day, mulling over everything that was wrong in the world, and hearing about the work of the Trust both exacerbated and alleviated this. Oxymoronic, I know.
Well, it made me even more sad and angry, because the problems faced by those the LTT helps are still so basic. Consider, for a moment, that people in Britain have just spent days queuing for the latest iPhone. Then consider that in Tanzania nursery-aged children are being given substandard education in rooms such as this:
On the other hand, I was cheered by how much has been done to improve things. Julian was emphatic in the “hand up not hand out” philosophy of the Trust, and made it clear that they were not going over to Tanzania to impose our “better” way of life on the people there.
In any case, would you argue that the consumerist, western ways are “better”?
Just look at the smile on this child’s face (thanks to the LTT for this photo):
Julian’s presentation reminded me of my own visit to a country bordering Tanzania to the south, Malawi.
Although it was now quite a few years ago, I remember my trip to Malawi as one of the most privileged, eye-opening and rewarding times of my life.
During his talk, Julian mentioned how happy people are in Tanzania. (Happy, remember, without the iPhone 5. . .) I experienced the same thing in Malawi. I was humbled by how people could have such warm, bright smiles on their faces amidst such grinding, apparently unending, poverty.
Me at the Open Arms Orphanage in Blantyre, Malawi (before Madonna came along. . .)
It’s important, I feel, to keep putting things into perspective, especially while writing this blog.
I may come across as materialistic, possibly narcissistic, in my shallow existence. So it’s crucial to show the other side; to remind myself (and others) that struggling not to buy x, y or z, is just nothing. Nothing.
When you see the state of the classrooms that young children are being educated in (if they get schooling at all), how can you possibly dither over buying something else that you don’t even need?
Thanks for reading. xxx
With many thanks to Julian Page, Director of Operations and Trustee of the Livingstone Tanzania Trust
You can find out much more about the Trust’s work at their website:
If you’d like to donate to the Livingstone Tanzania Trust, please visit: