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Life among People who don’t Have Anything, but Nonetheless Have Everything
Tuesday, 22 January 2013 Written by Sebastijan Glasnović

Children in RwandaIt’s not easy to come from an urban setting where, for example, uneaten food is thrown away or where every three months people buy new clothes, to a place where people have almost nothing to eat.

It’s also not easy to see people walking around barefoot (especially kids), while at the same time it’s officially not allowed to go barefoot in Rwanda. Of course, here it’s the same as back home: how much you work equals how much you have!

Their advantage is that the land is so fertile - they practically have spring the entire year - so it’s possible for them to live off the land. Because, you see, almost everything you’d like to buy is very expensive here, and the salaries are very low (for instance, a crate of beer costs a teacher’s monthly salary), so people have to live from what they plant themselves.

Every day, just like others in the friary, I eat food from their garden. I’m not sure when the last time was that I ate fresher and finer food (beans, tomatoes, zucchini, cabbage, onion, avocado, bananas… only meat and rice is bought; they even have their own milk and eggs)... In a way, it’s a luxury here, because for all that, you need to have a lot of land, which people don’t usually have, and you need someone to tend it! But nothing is thrown away, because you didn’t buy it cheaply, and you worked hard for it, so you appreciate it more! I have come to the conclusion that, back home, many things that we break, throw away or can find in every corner of our homes are considered by these people to be treasures. Pencil and paper! – while kids back home break their expensive toys or cell phones, here the children are happy when they get even a piece of paper and a pencil they can write with! It’s a real treat when a kid gets candy - a lollypop for example - let alone something else.

But you have to know that the white person is seen here as someone who has come to “save” them, so they expect to get money, gifts, anything, from you. It is not advisable to hand out gifts here for a very good reason: as our fra Ivica always says, one doesn’t live from handouts, but from work! That’s why both they (as with any of us) have to be aware that in life we have to learn to fend for ourselves! But far from not being assisted – when it comes to education and other areas - a great deal is being done, thanks to this community... and it is a genuine and very real help. Even those of us, outside this community, can help to advance their education and anything else that creates a better future for these people.

I go back to my title, “Life among People who don’t Have Anything, but Nonetheless Have Everything.” It means that they have very little material wealth, but nonetheless have the most important things in life: freedom, joy, love, simplicity… they have faith in God!

I applaud those individuals who have made the lives of these people happier and better - our Bosnian Franciscan Missionaries - people with big hearts… Some of them have, I’m sad to say, passed away, while others have continued what was started.

Those of us from around the world should help them in our simple way, as much as we can. If every person helped in a small way, everything here would become better and easier… So let us not be indifferent, let us notice and help these people! Philanthropy doesn’t care about linguistic, religious, or ethnic differences… it doesn’t care about skin colour… it doesn’t care about national borders.

Nobody can do everything, but everyone can do something
Author Unknown

Translated by: Branimir Mlakić
Edited by: Valerie Kae Ken

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